In an excerpt from an ABC News documentary released on Monday, Steele said he decided to sit down for an interview now because he wanted to “set the record straight” on his role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
“Most people first heard your name about five years ago, but you’ve been silent until now. Why speak now? asked host George Stephanopoulos.
“I think the first and most important (reason) is that the problems we identified in 2016 have not gone away, and probably got worse, and I thought it was important to come and set the record straight. on time, ”Steele said. .
Mueller’s report also concluded that another allegation made by Steele – that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in 2016 to meet with Russian officials – was false.
Steele reinforced his belief that most of the claims made on the record are correct.
“I stand by the work we did, the sources we had and the professionalism we applied to it,” Steele said.
Mueller, Steele explained, “worked at a level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases and prosecutions. And in most intelligence work, you never get to the point where you are 99% certain evidence to get a conviction. “
In the interview, Steele insisted that the information from his sources was credible, although the FBI was unable to verify the salacious details of the case. Steele said the confidential sources that are uncovered may seek to “downplay and underestimate” what they said previously, suggesting that is what happened with his source.
When asked if anything had happened to any of his sources after the file was disclosed, Steele replied, “Yes, but I can’t really go, I’m afraid.”
Stephanopoulos asked if the source was still alive.
“Yes,” Steele replied.
Steele said he thinks Russia is probably keeping a “kompromat” against Trump, and when pressed by ABC if he thinks Russia has a Trump gang with prostitutes at a Russian hotel, Steele said said the tape “probably exists”, but that Russia assessed “he did not need to be released.”
“And today, do you still believe that this tape exists? asked Stephanopoulos.
“I think it probably is, but I wouldn’t put 100% certainty on it,” Steele said.
“So how do you explain that if the tape does exist, it has not been broadcast?” »Asked Stephanopoulos.
“Well it didn’t need to be released,” Steele said. “I think the Russians thought they got good value from Donald Trump when he was President of the United States.”
Steele backed many of the claims made in his original brief, including Cohen’s trip to Prague. Cohen has denied under oath that he visited the Czech Republic during a congressional hearing in 2019 and has cooperated with investigators investigating Trump. A 2019 report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General showed that the FBI proved Cohen did not visit Prague in 2016.
Steele explained that Cohen could still lie about his trip to Prague despite his cooperation with investigators on other matters, saying the trip to Prague would be “very self-incriminating to a very large extent.”
“Ever since he went to jail, since he turned on President Trump, he’s been telling all the stories. Why wouldn’t he admit it?” Asked Stephanopoulos.
“I think it’s so incriminating and demeaning,” Steele said. “And the other reason is that he might be afraid of the consequences.”
In a statement to CNN, Michael Cohen refuted Steele’s claims, saying, “I look forward to his next secret file which proves the existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and that Elvis is still alive.”
When asked if he thought the credibility of his case had suffered after the Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice was unable to prove his claim regarding Cohen’s trip to Prague, Steele said that he was “not yet convinced” that Cohen had not gone to Prague.
“Do you think this damages your credibility and that you won’t accept the FBI’s findings in this particular case?” »Asked Stephanopoulos.
“I am ready to accept that everything on the record is not 100% accurate. I have yet to be convinced that this is one of them,” Steele said.