Trump-Russia dossier: One of Christopher Steele's key claims 'has been verified'

Mikhail Kalugin posed as a diplomat but was a spy, intelligence sources say

Will Worley
Thursday 30 March 2017 12:28 BST
Mikhail Kalugin, who was based in the US and has reportedly been confirmed as a Russian spy by US officials
Mikhail Kalugin, who was based in the US and has reportedly been confirmed as a Russian spy by US officials

A key detail of the infamous intelligence report on alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign to influence the US election has reportedly been verified.

US officials have apparently confirmed a Russian diplomat who was working in Washington was actually an intelligence agent.

His name, Mikhail Kalugin, was misspelled in the report by former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, which collected damning information suggesting the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Burr: The investigation into Russia's involvement in the election will go wherever the intelligence leads

Despite knowledge of the the report reaching the highest levels of US intelligence services and government, it was not independently verified.

But insider sources told the BBC Mr Kalugin had been identified as a spy and was being monitored prior to his return to Russia in August 2016 – separately from Mr Steele’s report.

Mr Kalugin allegedly posed as head of the Economics Section at the Russian embassy while in fact working for Russian intelligence.

Despite the senior diplomatic position Mr Kalugin held, "nobody had met him", a source told the broadcaster, adding it was a “classic” Russian intelligence move.

US publisher McClatchy reported similar allegations about Mr Kalugin earlier in March.

Mr Steele's report said: "A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN [sic], had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement-in the US presidential election operation ... would be exposed in the media there."

Mr Kalugin denied being a spy and complained to the press about “lies and fake news” told about him.

The BBC also reported Mr Steele had previously provided the US separate intelligence relating to Russia and Ukraine from 2013 - 2016.

The former MI6 agent is held in high regard in the UK, this increasingly appears to be the case among his US colleagues as well. The FBI reportedly reimbursed Mr Steele for some of the expenses incurred by his work Mr Trump and Russia.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is now discussing the possibility of interviewing Mr Steele, NBC reported yesterday.

The Independent first revealed that US politicians wanted to speak formally with Mr Steele, perhaps on neutral territory, earlier this month.

The former spy is apparently reluctant to leave London for safety reasons and is wary of how President Trump would react to him visiting the US.

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