Photo: Andrew Harnik, STF
FILE – In this June 21, 2017, file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. MuellerÂs team of investigators has recently questioned a former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations about President Donald TrumpÂs ties to Russia. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE – In this June 21, 2017, file photo, special counsel Robert…
WASHINGTON – Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators has recently spoken with a former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The meeting with Christopher Steele took place in Europe in recent weeks, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The dossier, which contends that Russia amassed compromising personal and financial allegations about Trump, was turned over to the FBI last year. It was developed by Steele, a former British spy who was assigned to look into Trump’s Russia ties by a private American firm.
The document of allegations, which circulated in Washington last fall before the presidential election, received public attention in January when it was revealed that then-FBI Director James Comey had privately briefed Trump on a summary on the document’s findings.
Trump has called the allegations in the dossier “phony stuff” even as the FBI has been investigating and working to corroborate the document’s claims.
The conversation with Mueller’s team, which is investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, suggests that investigators continue to take the document seriously.
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CNN first reported the interview with Steele.
At a news conference Wednesday, Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee, said that his panel had been unsuccessful in its efforts to question Steele.
“The committee cannot really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like who paid for it, who are your sources and subsources?” Burr said.
“My hope is that Mr. Steele will make a decision to meet with either Mark or I, or the committee or both so we can hear his side of it,” said Burr, referring to Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s top Democrat.
Also Thursday, a government official confirmed that Russian hackers obtained classified information about National Security Agency cybersecurity programs after breaching a personal computer used by an agency contractor in 2015.
The contractor, who wasn’t identified, took the classified material home, where Russian hackers stole it by exploiting vulnerabilities in Kaspersky Lab Inc. software on his computer, according to the person, who asked not to be identified.
The breach, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the latest to plague the NSA involving the use of government contractors. Harold Martin, who was contracted to work at the NSA, was arrested last year and told investigators that he knowingly took home documents and digital files that contained highly classified information.
Martin’s case followed the 2013 revelations of Edward Snowden, who fled his job as an NSA contractor in Hawaii for Hong Kong and then Russia after stealing and releasing a trove of data on classified programs. While both Martin and Snowden were employed by Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., the official wouldn’t say who employed the contractor in the latest breach.
The U.S. government last month banned all use of Kaspersky Lab software in federal information systems, citing concerns about the Moscow-based security firm’s links to the Russian government and espionage efforts.