Former FBI Director James Comey refused to comment publicly on any of the allegations made against President Donald Trump in the controversial, so-called Steele dossier during his highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Chair of the committee, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), was the first to question Comey on the so-far unsubstantiated document that alleges the Russian government has compromising material on the president.
“In the public domain is the question of the Steele dossier, a document that has been around now for over a year. I’m not sure when the FBI first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the Steele document?” Sen. Burr asked.
“Mr Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting,” Comey replied. “It goes into the details of the investigation.”
The 35-page intelligence dossier contained several uncorroborated allegations that the Russian government possessed compromising information on President Trump. The dossier was researched and written by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele and published by BuzzFeed News in January.
The bundle contains a number of graphic and potentially embarrassing claims, in particular, a sexual encounter that allegedly took place in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow involving Trump, urine, and prostitutes.
This ‘kompromat’ material, the dossier alleges, was held by the Russian government in order to blackmail the president.
Trump has always denied the authenticity of the document and, then-president-elect, took to Twitter to condemn its publication in January.
FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is "A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE." Very unfair!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Trump, according to Comey’s own opening remarks to the committee, published on Wednesday evening, allegedly sought to convince the former FBI director that “he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia” during a phone call on March 30—amid efforts to get Comey to drop the Russia probe.
Comey’s unwillingness to publicly confirm or deny the Steele dossier before the committee, however, will likely serve the belief that it may hold some truth.