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US probe met ex-British spy over Trump claims: CNN

[WASHINGTON] US investigators have met with a former British spy who compiled a salacious dossier on President Donald Trump's alleged campaign ties to Russia, CNN reported on Thursday.

The investigators for independent special counsel Robert Mueller met with Christopher Steele this past summer, the news network reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Former FBI director Mueller leads a sweeping probe into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"CNN has learned that the FBI and the US intelligence community last year took the Steele dossier more seriously than the agencies have publicly acknowledged," the network reported on its website.

The Wall Street Journal earlier identified former MI6 officer Steele as the author of the 35-page political research dossier which Mr Trump branded as "fake news."

The dossier includes unsubstantiated claims that Russians possess videos involving prostitutes, filmed during a 2013 visit by Mr Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel for the Miss Universe contest, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail.

It also alleges that Trump advisors including his lawyer Michael Cohen maintained regular contact with Russian officials and others linked to Russian intelligence during the election and were exchanging information for "at least" eight years.

US intelligence chiefs who briefed Mr Trump on alleged Russian interference in January reportedly included a two-page summary of the most credible claims from the collection of memos.

They were compiled before and after the November 8 election which Mr Trump won.

The president has described Russian interference in the election as a "total fabrication." Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, leading a separate investigation, said on Wednesday that Moscow had successfully sown "chaos at every level" in the 2016 election.


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