Christopher Steele breaks silence: We have a duty to ‘speak unpalatable truths to power’

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele is taking a subtle swipe at President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israeli capital, won't move embassy Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law MORE, saying that the media has a key responsibility to keep a "distorted" and "one-sided" U.S. government accountable. 

Steele, the author of the controversial dossier about Trump's alleged ties with Russia, made the comment in an email to an editor of Vanity Fair after he was selected to be featured in the magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the media, politics, entertainment and finance, according to Sky News. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"In these strange and troubling times, it is hard to speak unpalatable truths to power, but I believe we all still have a duty to do so," Steele wrote. "I salute those on your list, and otherwise, who have had the courage to speak out over the last year, often at great personal cost.

"At a time when governance is so distorted and one-sided, as I believe it currently is in the United States, the media has a key role to play in holding it accountable."

Sky News noted that the comment serves as the first time Steele has spoken publicly in 18 months.

Steele has become a highly scrutinized figure over the Trump-Russia dossier he compiled. The documents include many salacious allegations about Trump's ties to Russia. 

They've also attracted skepticism from Republicans and Trump over the fact that the Democratic National Committee helped pay for the research that eventually led to the dossier.

Among other things, Republican lawmakers have charged that the FBI improperly obtained a search warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page because authorities were not transparent about the dossier's origins. 

Sky News notes that Vanity Fair ranks Steele No. 38 on its list.

"The former head of MI6's Russia desk compiled the infamous dossier that raised the possibility Donald Trump was vulnerable to Russian blackmail," Vanity Fair said. "Steele even grew a beard and went into hiding - merely adding to his mythic reputation on the left."

Sky News added that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who is leading the investigation into Russia's election interference, is ranked No. 1. 

Trump, who has repeatedly labeled the investigation a "witch hunt," is not on the list.