According to multiple sources, the FBI reportedly planned to pay Christopher Steele (the ex-MI6 spy who compiled that explosive dossier about Trump's alleged ties to Russia) to continue to dig up information on the then Republican presidential nominee, the Washington Post reports.
Although the bureau did not ultimately end up paying Steele for his services, the deal—which was reportedly made last October—suggests that the government was taking his reporting at least somewhat seriously and was interested in investigating his findings.
The partially unverified dossier, which was published in full on BuzzzFeed in January, alleged that Trump's associates colluded with Russia on the DNC hacks and the country had compromising information that could have made him susceptible to blackmail. After the report was made public, Trump dismissed the findings as "fake news."
"It's phony stuff. It didn't happen," Trump said in January. "It was a group of opponents that got together—sick people—and they put that crap together."
Steele, a former British spy with 20 years experience, turned over his findings to the FBI in July after originally working for anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats during the campaign, NBC News reports. The bureau then reached out to Steele in September and brokered a deal in October, offering to pay him to continue his work. At the time, the FBI was beginning to probe Russia's alleged involvement in the 2016 election.
Steele, who has now gone into hiding, reportedly pulled out of the deal after the New York Times reported in late October that sources in law enforcement said they hadn't yet found a "conclusive or direct link" between Trump and Russia. In February, CNN said that US investigators had been able to verify some aspects of Steele's dossier, specifically surrounding "conversations between foreign nationals."