By the time he had uncovered significant intelligence regarding the Trump campaign's connections to Russia and presented his findings to the State Department in September 2016, dossier author Christopher Steele believed the U.S. was facing an electoral crime the likes of which history had never seen -- and he was confused as to why U.S. officials were not treating the issue with more urgency.
But unbeknownst to Steele, officials within the U.S. intelligence community were already on the case in August, having received pertinent intelligence from officials in the U.K.
According to an article by the Washington Post, that month the C.I.A. sent what the paper described as “an intelligence bombshell” to President Obama, warning him that Putin was directly involved in a Russian cyber campaign aimed at disrupting the Presidential election—and helping Trump win.
The information came from British intelligence and indicated that the Trump campaign was in regular contact with Russians:
Robert Hannigan, then the head of the U.K.’s intelligence service the G.C.H.Q., had recently flown to Washington and briefed the C.I.A.’s director, John Brennan, on a stream of illicit communications between Trump’s team and Moscow that had been intercepted.
But, as the Post noted, the C.I.A.’s assessment that the Russians were interfering specifically to boost Trump was not yet accepted by other intelligence agencies, and it wasn’t until days before the Inauguration that major U.S. intelligence agencies had unanimously endorsed this view.