IG Report Shows Dossier Author Chris Steele Told Internal Watchdog he was 'Favorably Disposed' to the Trumps

The author of a controversial dossier that was once believed to be the partial basis for the FBI to open a counterintelligence probe into members of the Trump campaign in the run-up to the 2016 election met with a Trump family member years prior and considered himself "favorably disposed" to the family, according to a new government watchdog report.

"He stated that if anything he was 'favorably disposed' toward the Trump family before he began his research because he had visited a Trump family member at Trump Tower and 'been friendly' with [the family member] for some years," the report said about the author, Christopher Steele.

Steele, a former British intelligence agent, was responsible for the so-called "Steele dossier"—a trove of information he collected during the 2016 election, including narratives about potential connections Trump and his campaign may have had with prominent Russians. The report stated that the FBI's probe was not the result of the dossier.

"He described their relationship as 'personal' and said that he once gifted a family tartan from Scotland to the family member," the report continued, failing to name the Trump family member.

The information on the Steele dossier came as part of the 480-page report from the Department of Justice's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, about the origins of the Russia probe. It was released Monday.

ABC News reported Monday that the unnamed family member is Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter and a senior administration official.

Michael Horowitz report
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz (L) and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 18, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Republicans long believed that Horowitz's investigation would reveal the FBI counterintelligence probe of Trump campaign officials, which eventually led to former special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian election interference, was a partisan inquiry by Obama-era Intelligence Community officials who sought to undermine Trump's victory by accusing him of "colluding" with Russia.

But the internal government watchdog undercut that narrative. Horowitz concluded that despite serious mishandlings by the FBI when seeking privilege from a secret national security court to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, no "political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open" investigations into several former Trump campaign officials.

However, the FBI's surveillance program and how it obtained a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant were riddled with errors, the report stated, including "17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications." As a result, the inspector general slammed the agency and advised that they establish new guidelines when conducting probes involving political campaigns.

Steele further told Horowitz and his office that his reports "were not designed to be 'finished products' and instead were 'to be briefed off of orally versus consumed as a written product.'" Steele described his reports to the IG as "mostly single source reporting" and "uncorroborated intelligence 'up to a point,'" but included "background research and his judgment as an intelligence professional."

The Dossier was funded partially by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee to unearth damaging information on then-candidate Trump, something supporters of the president have said renders Steele's claims inaccurate and politically motivated.

"He denied 'tailoring' his reporting to meet the needs of his clients and explained that doing so ultimately was not a good business practice because it would result in loss of reputation. We also asked Steele whether his research was 'opposition research' and biased," the report elaborated. "He provided a similar response and explained that his firm would not be in business if it provided biased information. Steele called the allegation that he was biased against Trump from the start 'ridiculous.'"

Democrats and Republicans were quick to claim Horowitz's report was a slam dunk victory for their respective camp.

Democrats argued it "debunks the conspiracy theories" touted by Trump and his congressional allies about the validity of the Mueller report and the FBI's counterintelligence probe.

Republicans and at least one Trump appointee, meanwhile, said the report's conclusion backed Trump and Attorney General William Barr's claims the government "spied" on the Trump campaign.

"The Inspector General's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," Barr said in a statement. "It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump's administration."

Horowitz is slated to testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he will likely be grilled by lawmakers on the both sides of the aisle about the findings laid out in his extensive report.