The story reads like a James Bond movie screenplay.
A former British spy quits the service after MI6 loses interest in his area of expertise: Russian intelligence.
He decides to pursue lucrative work in the private sector, but meanwhile, he preserves his sources, keeps shaking hands and taking notes, until one of his reports, circulating for months in the American government, leaks to the public through the press.
The report accuses the president-elect of shady business deals and rendezvous with Russian prostitutes, all caught on tape by wires and hidden cameras.
The story? Real. The report? Unsubstantiated. The public? Not convinced.
Congressman Bill Keating joined WGBH’s Boston Public Radio to talk over the allegations being made against President-elect Trump by the former British spy, Christopher Steele.
Congressman Keating says while the claims haven’t been corroborated by major news sources, some elements of the report aren’t out of the question.
“These tactics are tactics they do employ,” he said. “[The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow] is wired and it’s videotaped and that’s known to just about anyone with any background.”
The report alleges that Donald Trump made unusual requests of Russian prostitutes in the presidential suite in Moscow. It claims the encounters were secretly taped and the evidence being held over Trump’s head as blackmail.
While Keating didn’t say he believed the report, the congressman talked about the “mind games” he experienced while visiting Russia.
“They wanted to keep us in the rooms they had assigned because they were wired,” Keating said. “They knock during the night to sleep-deprive [visitors] for meetings. They have spies going around.”
Keating went on to say he wasn’t pleased with the way Donald Trump has responded to the press in the wake of the leak.
“The attack on CNN, calling them fake news-- That’s disconcerting going forward, because one of the last defenses we have in our country is having a free press,” he said. “What makes our country different is the freedom of the press and the ability to criticize.”
Trump’s press conference yesterday carried a combative tone as the president-elect called out media outlets, including CNN, for carrying the story.
BuzzFeed News has come under fire for publishing the report in full despite its allegations being unsubstantiated, while CNN declined to publish the specific claims because they could not be verified.
Trump called BuzzFeed News “a failing pile of garbage” and CNN “fake news.”
Keating said he’s noticed during his trips abroad that the nation's legitimacy is hurting because of Trump’s behavior.
“We’re trying to export this sense of democracy and freedom around the world, and when people are seeing what’s going on now here-- to say that it undercuts that message is an understatement,” said Keating.
Congressman Bill Keating is a senior member on both the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees. To hear his interview on BPR in its entirety, click on the audio link above.