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Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary released Sunday.

Why it matters: The FBI drew on former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government, which led to former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

  • Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded in 2019 that while Steele's report didn't play any role in the FBI's opening of its investigation, it was a key factor in the surveillance of one Trump campaign adviser, and the bureau had fallen short in ensuring that details in the dossier were accurate.
  • But in his first on-camera interview since the dossier was revealed in 2017, Steele told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: "I stand by the work we did, the sources that we had, and the professionalism which we applied to it."

Of note: Steele said in the documentary, "Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier," that he did not accept findings by Mueller, the FBI and Horowitz that the dossier's claims that Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen secretly met with Kremlin officials in Prague were false.

  • Stephanopoulos asked Steele why Cohen would continue to maintain that the claim was false despite turning on Trump after he was convicted and sentenced in 2018 over charges stemming from Mueller's probe.
  • "I think it's so incriminating and demeaning," Steele said. "And the other reason is he might be scared of the consequences."
"I'm prepared to accept that not everything in the dossier is 100%. I have yet to be convinced that that [the Cohen allegation] is one of them."
— Steele

What else he's saying: While Mueller and Horowitz cast doubt on the veracity of salacious claims in the dossier about an alleged meeting between Trump and prostitutes at a Russia hotel, Steele said he believed a tape of this "probably" exists, but he "wouldn't put 100% certainty on it."

  • When Stephanopoulos asked why such a tape had not been released, Steele replied: "I think the Russians felt they'd got pretty good value out of Donald Trump when he was President of the U.S."
  • Steele told Stephanopoulos he decided to break his silence because "the problems we identified back in 2016 haven't gone away, and arguably have actually got worse, and I thought it was important to come and set the record straight."

Flashback: Research firm Fusion GPS commissioned Steele in 2015 to conduct opposition research for the conservative Washington Free Beacon. Steele's work was later funded by the Democratic National Committee.

  • Mueller discovered more than 100 contacts among members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials and brought dozens of indictments for various crimes. Ultimately, he found insufficient evidence to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia's government to interfere in the election.

The other side: Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress and was released from federal prison last year due to the pandemic, tweeted Sunday that Steele's allegations about him had been "debunked by every one of our intelligence agencies."

  • Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

GOP Sen. Barrasso declines to criticize Trump for defending threats to "hang" Pence

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), during an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, declined to criticize former President Trump's apparent defense of Jan. 6 rioters who threatened to "hang" former Vice President Mike Pence.

Driving the news: The Wyoming Republican's remarks come after the former president, in a taped interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl that was shared with Axios, said it was "common sense" for his supporters to threaten the vice president.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Nov 15, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

New poll of Iowa voters signals Trump has edge over Biden in 2024

Photos: Scott Olson, Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The majority of likely Iowa voters would vote for former President Donald Trump (51%) over President Joe Biden (40%) in the 2024 general election, according to the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

Between the lines: Independents in Iowa are giving Trump the edge over Biden, favoring him 45% to 37%, the poll published Saturday shows.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.