A secret report authored by Christopher Steele alleges that a former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin was assassinated in Washington, D.C., and did not die by accident as the Department of Justice ruled, BuzzFeed News reported.
Four sources familiar with the document told the news outlet that the former British intelligence agent's report concludes that Mikhail Lesin was beaten to death by individuals working for a Russian oligarch close to Putin. The individuals were instructed not to kill Lesin, the report continues, but went too far and murdered him, BuzzFeed added.
Steele reportedly provided the report to the FBI during its investigation.
The Justice Department, however, concluded in 2016 that Lesin's death was due to injuries sustained in an accidental fall, with "acute ethanol intoxication" as a contributing cause of death.
"As a result of the almost year-long investigation, the Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia has amended Lesin’s manner of death from 'undetermined' to 'accident,' " the department wrote in a statement at the time.
Lesin served as Russian minister of press, television and radio broadcasting before he founded the state-sponsored news agency RT, then known as Russia Today in 2005. Last year, the U.S. government forced RT to register as a foreign agent, citing the channel's "strategic messaging for [the] Russian government."
BuzzFeed quoted a current FBI agent who told the website that no one at the agency believes Lesin's death was truly an accident.
“What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died,” the unidentified agent said. “Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”
Steele was the author of a controversial dossier alleging ties between President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE and the Russian government that Republicans have claimed was the impetus for the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.