Looks like the Steele Dossier pissed off Putin even more than the Republicans?

Was This Russian General Murdered Over the Steele Dossier?

The notorious dossier on Trump that Republicans want to discredit may well have been credible enough in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes to get at least one person killed

Gen. Oleg Erovinkin of Russia’s State Security Service (FSB)

The dossier on Donald Trump compiled by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele—which made headlines for its salacious, unconfirmed passage about Trump and hookers performing for him in a Moscow hotel room—has been denounced by the president’s people as fake news, of course.

But the document was a mixed collection of information and allegations far more precise than the rumors about compromising sexual activities, and some of what’s in it may have unnerved not only Trump, but the Kremlin, where hunting down leaks can take a fatal turn.

During his recently released August 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Glenn Simpson was asked about sources for the sensational dossier, which Simpson’s firm, Fusion GPS, commissioned. Responding for him, Simpson’s lawyer, Joshua Levy, blurted out a surprising warning: “Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier.”

In his subsequent November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, which was made available last Thursday, Simpson denied knowing specific cases of people being killed because of the dossier, but he then noted cryptically that “people literally risked their lives to tell us some of this stuff.”

In fact, there is evidence that at least one Russian was murdered because of Steele’s revelations: Gen. Oleg Erovinkin of Russia’s State Security Service (FSB). On the morning of Dec. 26, 2016, Erovinkin, age 61, was found dead in his car in central Moscow. Life News, known to be a Kremlin mouthpiece, first claimed on its website that Erovinkin had been “killed,” but then quickly changed its story, saying simply that Erovinkin had “died.” FSB investigators were called immediately to the death scene, and news outlets soon reported that Erovinkin had succumbed to a heart attack. There was no more official Russian mention of him.

Erovinkin, who joined the KGB (the FSB’s predecessor) in 1976, had in the mid-1990s worked in the Russian Presidential Administration, where his job was to monitor compliance with security procedures. (He was known as “the keeper of the Kremlin’s secrets.”) He then served under Igor Sechin when the latter was deputy premier and subsequently followed Sechin to Rosneft in 2012, after Sechin became CEO of the state oil giant.

Of all the officials who serve under Putin, Sechin is the most powerful. Erovinkin, as chief administrator at Rosneft, was Sechin’s right-hand man and must have known everything about Sechin’s contacts with Americans. Those included the former head of ExxonMobile, now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Sechin once said he felt thwarted by U.S. imposed sanctions that kept him from riding motorcycles in America with his friend Tillerson.)



Repeat a lie over and over and over again then it becomes true, right?

You know how if you repeat a word over and over, eventually it starts to sound strange to your ear, like merely a random collection of sounds? That is apparently what President Trump is doing with the word “collusion.” Say it often enough, and perhaps it will lose all meaning. (Collusion has already been established its proof of conspiracy that Mueller is looking for )

That’s just one of the things that comes through in this bizarre and disturbing interview Trump conducted at the Trump International Golf Club with Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, apparently on the spur of the moment and with no aides there to protect him. As we’ve almost come to expect by now, when Trump speaks at length without a script, he skitters back and forth along the line that divides the comical from the terrifying, telling one obvious lie after another, making endless digressions that devolve into incomprehensible word salad, and generally sounding like someone with only the most tenuous grip on his faculties.

But there’s one thing he’s very clear about wanting everyone to know: He and his campaign did not collude with Russia during 2016. In fact, without being prompted he returned again and again to the topic, repeating the word “collusion” no fewer than 23 times:

“Frankly there is absolutely no collusion…Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion…I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion…I can only tell you that there is absolutely no collusion…There’s been no collusion…There was no collusion. None whatsoever…everybody knows that there was no collusion. I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion [note: not true]…The Republicans, in terms of the House committees, they come out, they’re so angry because there is no collusion…there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion…There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign…But there is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party…I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime(conspiracy is a serious crime), but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion. And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion…There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion…when you look at all of the tremendous, ah, real problems [Democrats] had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion.“

It should go without saying that no Democrats have said there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Some have said that we don’t yet have definitive proof that there was a conspiracy at work, but none have proclaimed Trump exonerated in the way he’s claiming. And Trump’s claim that Democrats were the ones colluding with Russia is simply nonsensical, likely plucked from an attempt Republicans and the conservative media made a couple of months ago to execute an “I know you are but what am I” strategy on this scandal that was so ludicrous it isn’t worth revisiting in any detail (you can read about it here if you care).

This is one of those moments when you are reminded that the president has the majestic resources of the U.S. government at his disposal, yet prefers to learn the truth of what’s going on in the world from the trio manning the couch on “Fox & Friends.” So perhaps it’s unsurprising that he thinks he can convince America of his innocence by merely repeating the words “There was no collusion” again and again. What is blindingly obvious is that Trump is very, very concerned that people might be thinking he and his campaign colluded with the Russians.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they did and he’s desperate to cover it up; it could also mean that he regards such collusion as a terrible betrayal of the country he loves and wants to make sure no one falsely concludes he would countenance such a thing. But we already know that officials on his campaign (and in his own family) had repeated contacts with representatives of the Russian government and others connected with the Russian government. That’s not in question. We also know that the topic of many of those conversations was whether Russia would provide the Trump campaign with damaging information on Hillary Clinton (see here, here and here). The most generous interpretation of those contacts is that people on both sides were interested in colluding but the operation never got off the ground.

There are a hundred questions that need to be answered before this is all over (to take just one: If Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were routine and appropriate, why did he feel the need to lie to the FBI about them?). What we don’t know is where Trump himself fits into this picture. So far, the only point at which we know of his involvement is that the president personally dictated the ham-handedly misleading statement Donald Trump Jr. released after the news broke of that fateful meeting that he, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a group of Russians.

Did every other contact the campaign had with Russia happen without Trump’s knowledge? It might have. He may be so insistent that “There was no collusion” because he himself is utterly innocent. It’s also possible that he sees the collusion question as his area of greatest political and legal danger, which it may or may not be; at the moment there’s more evidence that he committed obstruction of justice, which is a separate question.

But there’s something important to keep in mind when we’re interpreting Trump’s words and actions: For someone who fancies himself a genius, he is almost completely lacking in any real guile. He doesn’t play eight-dimensional chess. His lies are obvious and straightforward, clearly false at the moment they leave his lips. His strategies require no deconstruction or disentanglement to understand. He’s almost always doing exactly what he appears to be doing.

So if he sounds like a pathetic perp on “Law & Order,” crying “I don’t know the guy! I wasn’t there! I didn’t do it!,” and it looks as though he thinks if he just says he’s innocent over and over then you’ll believe him, that’s probably what’s happening. But sooner or later, we’re going to find out the truth.

Legal brief explains how the Kremlin used local actors to interfere with US election in 2016

Former high-level officials submit ‘unusual’ Russia brief in lawsuit against Trump and Roger Stone

Among the former officials are John Brennan, a CIA director; James Clapper, a director of national intelligence; and Michael Hayden, a director of the National Security Agency.

The brief explained how the `, including the one targeting the US election in 2016.

John Brennan. Thomson Reuters

Fourteen former national security, intelligence, and foreign policy officials who have served at senior levels in Republican and Democratic administrations recently wrote an amicus brief as part of a lawsuit brought against President Donald Trump’s campaign and Roger Stone, his longtime confidant.

The lawsuit was filed in July by three private citizens — Roy Cockrum, Scott Comer, and Eric Schoenberg — whose personal information was stolen in hacks of the Democratic National Committee and published by WikiLeaks. The plaintiffs have argued that the Trump campaign, Stone, “and those they conspired with arranged for the hacked information to be provided to WikiLeaks.”

The Trump campaign and Stone have filed motions to dismiss the complaint. The plaintiffs responded on December 1, laying out, among other things, a “motive to collaborate” between the campaign and Russia, as well as points of contact.

Among the former officials who filed the amicus brief on December 8 are John Brennan, a CIA director; James Clapper, a director of national intelligence; and Michael Hayden, a director of the National Security Agency; Avril Haines, a deputy national security adviser; Michael McFaul, a US ambassador to Russia; and Michael Morell, an acting CIA director.

The former officials emphasized in the neutral brief that they could not disclose classified information. But their message was clear: The Kremlin uses local actors to help amplify the scope and impact of its influence operations, including the one targeting the US election in 2016.

The cutouts can range from “the unwitting accomplice who is manipulated to act in what he believes is his best interest, to the ideological or economic ally who broadly shares Russian interests, to the knowing agent of influence who is recruited or coerced to directly advance Russian operations and objectives,” the former officials wrote.

Cutouts can be anyone, they explained, from journalists and academics to “prominent pro-Russian businessmen.”

These local actors help the Kremlin further its foreign influence operations and “active measures” campaigns, they wrote. Those operations often involve the spread of disinformation and conspiracy theories and cyberattacks — all in an attempt to “undermine confidence in democratic leaders and institutions” and “discredit candidates for office perceived as hostile to the Kremlin.”

This type of brief is ‘certainly unusual’

It is “certainly unusual” for a group of such high-profile former officials to write and submit a brief to a district court, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

But it is a way for the former officials to “draw attention” to an issue they believe is important for the public to understand, Mariotti said, even if the point they make “doesn’t really move us far down the road to establishing a conspiracy.”

Michael Carpenter, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia who helped write the brief, said the goal was “to inform the court, and by extension the American public, about the subversive character of Russian ‘active measures’ campaigns.”

“One of the key points we make,” Carpenter said on Thursday, “is that active measures campaigns are almost always carried out using local actors who enable Kremlin agents to get closer to their target and gather information on how best to achieve their desired goal (for example, establishing a corrupt relationship that can be later exploited for purposes of blackmail or manipulation).”

Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was a top Trump campaign surrogate, pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to FBI agents about the nature of his conversations last December with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the US at the time.

A young foreign policy adviser to the campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in October to a similar charge.

Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, and his longtime associate Rick Gates were indicted in October on charges that included money laundering, tax fraud, and failure to register as a foreign agent. Much of their money, the government said in court filings, came from Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.

Read Full Brief Here:




Russians here and Russians there, more confirmation of the Steele dossier

Carter Page’s bizarre testimony before the House Intelligence Committee supported some key elements of the infamous dossier compiled by a former British spy.

The former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign told lawmakers last week about his visits to Russia before and after the election, when he met with government and business leaders, reported Business Insider.

Page confirmed he had emailed campaign adviser J.D. Gordon July 8, 2016, from Moscow — on a trip approved by former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — to say he had gotten “incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”

That seems to confirm findings by former British spy Christopher Steele, who reported in his dossier that “official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. Ivanov, confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, Divyekin (nfd) also had met secretly with Page on his recent visit.”

According to Steele’s source, Diveykin told Page the Kremlin had damaging information on Hillary Clinton that they wanted to turn over to the Trump campaign.

Page denied meeting with Diveykin and told the committee that “senior members of the presidential administration,” as described in his email, was actually just a brief chat with deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich.

He also claimed his reference to legislators meant only a few people shaking his hands in passing during the trip.

Page also confirmed that he “possibly” had contacted the head of investor relations at the Russian oil company Rosneft in advance of his July 2016 visit.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the committee’s ranking Democrat, pointed out that Rosneft’s CEO, Igor Sechin, was under U.S. sanctions as part of the Magnitsky Act.

A U.S. intelligence source claimed in September 2016 that Page met with Sechin, who raised the issue of lifting those sanctions after the election.

A Russian source told Steele that Sechin and Page held a secret meeting to discuss “the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia.”

Steele alleged that Sechin offered Page the brokerage of a 19 percent stake in Rosneft in exchange for getting U.S. sanctions lifted against oligarchs close to Russian president Vladmir Putin.

Page denied “directly” expressing support for lifting sanctions, but he admitted

that Andrey Baranov, the head of investor relations, “may have briefly mentioned” the sale of a significant percentage of Rosneft in July.

A 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft changed hands in December under mysterious circumstances, and Page returned to Moscow the day after the deal was signed to meet with “some top managers” at the company.

He has denied meeting with Sechin while there, but agrees it would have been “a great honor.”


J.D. Gordon Quote from NBC news “ I discouraged Carter from taking the trip to Moscow in the first place because it was a bad idea. Since I refused to forward his speech request form for approval, he eventually went around me directly to campaign leadership

No matter how much you don’t like Hillary, the Uranium story is still BS

The claim that Russia obtained 20 percent of American uranium is still not true

More than a year ago, Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate, made a slew of claims about Hillary Clinton’s alleged role in the approval of the sale of a Canadian company, Uranium One, with mining rights in the United States to Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy agency. The Fact Checker labeled it false at the time.

But this claim seems to resurface whenever news about the Russia investigation heats up. After Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), head of the House Intelligence Committee, announced Congress would lead a probe into the deal, the Fact Checker delved into the tale again. In an interview with Fox News, Nunes said, “How is it that our government could approve a sale of 20 percent of our uranium at the same time that there was an open FBI investigation?”

The 20 percent figure has long been in wide circulation. It comes from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of the agencies that approved the deal in 2010. It stated that as of 2010, the licenses “represent approximately 20 percent of the currently licensed uranium in-situ recovery production capacity” in the United States. But that did not mean 20 percent of U.S. uranium reserves. In-situ recovery is one of two ways uranium is mined and is generally used for low-grade ore that would otherwise be too expensive to mine.

Plus, the 20 percent number was an estimate. Today, the Uranium One represents only 2.3 percent of all U.S. production. And uranium produced in the U.S. represents a very small section of the world’s total. In 2016, it accounted for 1,126 tons of the world’s total 62,266.

So, the overwrought claims that Clinton “gave away” 20 percent of the U.S. nuclear supply or that Russia controls that much U.S. uranium are simply absurd. Clearly, the number is woefully out of date.

Wahington Post

Sinister new White House – Russian “Collusion”?

Prominent anti-Putin whistleblower Bill Browder says he was barred from entering the US

Bill Browder. CNN/screenshot

Banker turned human-rights activist Bill Browder says his authorization to travel to the US using his British passport via an ESTA visa was revoked on the same day that Russian prosecutors issued an Interpol warrant for his arrest on charges of tax evasion and murder.

Browder tweeted over the weekend that Russian President Vladimir Putin had managed, on the fifth attempt, to place him on the Interpol list after four previous rejections by the International Police Organization.

Interpol did not immediately return a request for comment. But Browder said Russian officials had used a “loophole” known as a diffusion notice to bypass scrutiny by Interpol HQ. A diffusion notice is similar to, but less formal than, a red notice, which is “the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today,” according to the Justice Department.

The same day the warrant was issued, Browder said, he was notified that his ESTA had been revoked. Browder gave up his US citizenship in 1998 and became a British citizen.

ESTA, or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is an automated system that allows tourists from a Visa Waiver Program country to travel to the US for business or pleasure for 90 days or less.

It is still unclear why Browder was effectively barred from the US following the Interpol warrant. A spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Protection Agency said in a statement following this article’s publication that Browder’s ESTA “was manually approved by CBP on Oct. 18—clearing him for travel to the United States.” The spokesperson said it “remains valid.”

But Browder told Business Insider that he “got the message from DHS of my Global Entry revocation and my ESTA (visa waiver) cancellation on October 19th.”

He also said the Department of Homeland Security “refused to provide any answers” when he initially asked last week why his ESTA had been revoked.

“They suggested I file a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request and wait for the answer, which can take as long as six months,” Browder said. Browder explained that he first discovered the visa problems after receiving an email from DHS about “a change in global entry status” — his global entry pass had been revoked, according to the website. He then tried to book a flight to the US to check whether his ESTA authorization was still valid, but United Airlines “refused to check me in because of visa problems.”

“I checked with law-enforcement contacts and learned that Russia added me to the Interpol system via a diffusion notice on October 17,” Browder said.

Russian investigators have accused Browder of several crimes over the past decade, including tax evasion and a scheme to bypass the Kremlin to buy up Gazprom shares for foreign investors, in an effort to undermine his credibility.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya detailed Browder’s alleged misconduct in a memo that she brought with her to a meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner at Trump Tower last June. The document closely mirrored a memo written by the Russian prosecutor’s office months earlier that was given to US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher while he was in Moscow.

Browder spearheaded the 2012 sanctions legislation known as The Magnitsky Act, which was passed to punish high-level Russian officials suspected of being involved in the death of his tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

A memorial for Sergei Magnitsky in Russia. AP

Magnitsky is believed to have uncovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme in 2008 on behalf of Browder’s company, Hermitage Capital, which quickly snowballed into one of the biggest corruption scandals of Putin’s tenure. Putin on Thursday called the Magnitsky Act the product of “anti-Russian hysteria.”

Magnitsky was jailed by some of the same Russian officials he had accused of corruption, Browder has said, and was beaten to death by prison guards after failing to receive medical treatment for pancreatitis and other serious ailments.

Russia has claimed Magnitsky died of natural causes and, in a new twist, is now accusing Browder of colluding with a British spy in 2009 “to cause the death of S. L. Magnitsky by persuading Russian prison doctors to withhold care,” according to The New York Times.

“The new accusation is made all the more sinister for its absurd and at times cartoonish details,” The Times reported.


The “Dossier” by former UK intelligence official Christopher Steele is casting an ever darker shadow over Trump


former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele

Nine months after its first appearance, the set of intelligence reports known as the Steele dossier, one of the most explosive documents in modern political history, is still hanging over Washington, casting a shadow over the Trump administration that has only grown darker as time has gone by.

It was reported this week that the document’s author, former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele, has been interviewed by investigators working for the special counsel on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are, meanwhile, asking to see Steele to make up their own mind about his findings. The ranking Democrat on the House committee, Adam Schiff, said that the dossier was “a very important and useful guide to help us figure out what we need to look into”.

The fact that Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators has far-reaching implications.

Originally commissioned by a private firm as opposition research by Donald Trump’s Republican and then Democratic opponents, they cite a range of unnamed sources, in Russia and the US, who describe the Kremlin’s cultivation over many years of the man who now occupies the Oval Office – and the systematic collusion of Trump’s associates with Moscow to help get him there.

The question of collusion is at the heart of the various investigations into links between Trump and Moscow. Even a senior Republican, Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, admitted this week it was an open question.

Burr said his committee needed to talk Steele himself to assess the dossier properly and urged him to speak to its members or staff. According to an NBC report on Friday, Steele had expressed willingness to meet the committee’s leaders.

In his remarks this week, Burr said his committee had come to a consensus in supporting the conclusions of a US intelligence community assessment in January this year that Russian had conducted a multi-pronged campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, in Trump’s favor.

It is a finding that echoes the reports that Steele was producing seven months earlier. Trump has called the assessment a “hoax”, but there is no sign the three agencies that came to that conclusion, the CIA, FBI and NSA, have had any second thoughts in the intervening months.

“Many of my former CIA colleagues have taken [the Steele] reports seriously since they were first published,” wrote John Sipher, a former senior officer in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service on the Just Security website. “This is not because they are not fond of Trump (and many admittedly are not), but because they understand the potential plausibility of the reports’ overall narrative based on their experienced understanding of both Russian methods and the nature of raw intelligence reporting.”

Sipher emphasised the “raw” nature of the reports, aimed at conveying an accurate account of what sources are saying, rather than claiming to be a definitive summary of events. There are spelling mistakes and rough edges. Several of the episodes it described remain entirely unverified.

But as every passing month brings more leaks, revelations in the press, and more progress in the investigations, the Steele dossier has generally gained in credibility, rather than lost it.

The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya,: Yury Martyanov/AFP/Getty Images

Trump Tower meeting

One of the more striking recent developments was the disclosure of a meeting on 9 June 2016 in Trump Tower involving Trump’s son, Donald Jr, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with a Russian lawyer closely tied to the government, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

After the meeting was first reported on 8 July this year, the president’s son claimed (in a statement dictated, it turned out, by his father) that it had been about adoptions of Russian children by Americans.

The next day that was exposed as a lie, with the publication of emails that made it clear that Veselnitskaya was offering damaging material on Hillary Clinton, that an intermediary setting up the meeting said was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump”.

“If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer,” Donald Trump Jr replied.

Just 11 days after that meeting – but more than a year before it became public – Steele quoted a source as saying that “the Kremlin had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton”, for several years.

A later report, dated 19 July 2016, said: “Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between them and the Russian leadership.” The report said that such contacts were handled on Trump’s end by his then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who participated in the 9 June Trump Tower meeting.

Manafort has denied taking part in any collusion with the Russian state, but registered himself as a foreign agent retroactively after it was revealed his firm received more than $17m working as a lobbyist for a pro-Russian Ukrainian party. He is a subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and in July the FBI raided his home in Virginia.

Other key protagonists in the Steele dossier have surfaced in subsequent disclosures and investigation. Two of them, an Azeri-Russian businessman Araz Agalarov and his son Emin, are described in emails released by Donald Trump Jr as offering to serve as intermediaries in passing on damaging material on Clinton and is reported to have help set up the Trump Tower meeting.

Carter Page

Another key figure in the Steele dossier is Carter Page, an energy consultant who Trump named as one of his foreign policy advisors. Steele’s sources describe him as an “intermediary” between Manafort and Moscow, who had met a Putin lieutenant and head of the Russian energy giant, Rosneft, and a senior Kremlin official, Igor Diveykin. Page denied meeting either man on his trips to Moscow, which he has said were for business purposes and not connected to his role in the Trump campaign.

Nonetheless, he has become a focus of investigation: it was reported in April that that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an order last year for his communication to be monitored. To obtain the order, investigators would have to demonstrate “probable cause” to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. Page has said he welcomed the news of the order as it demonstrated he was being made a scapegoat of the investigation.

Elsewhere, a Steele memo in September 2016 mentions a “Mikhail Kulagin” who had been withdrawn from the Russian embassy in Washington because of his “heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation”.

There was no diplomat of that name at the mission, but there was a Mikhail Kalugin; five months later, it emerged that he had left the embassy in August 2016.

McClatchy reported he was under investigation for his role in Russia’s interference in the campaign. The BBC reported that the US had identified Kalugin as a spy.


More recently, there has been a slew of revelations about the role of disinformation spread by Russians and other eastern Europeans posing as Americans on social media. The New York Times reported that hundreds and possibly thousands of Russian-linked fake accounts and bots on Facebook and Twitter were used to spread anti-Clinton stories and messages.

Facebook disclosed that it had shut down several hundred accounts that it believes were fabricated by a Kremlin-linked Russian company to buy $100,000 in ads that often promoted racial and other divisive issues during the campaign.

This week, Facebook handed over to Congress 3,000 ads bought by a Russian organization during the campaign, and it was reported that many of those ads, some of them Islamophobic, were specifically targeted on swing states, Michigan and Wisconsin.

A Steele memo from August 2016 states that after Russia’s hand had been discovered in the hacking of Democratic party emails and passing them to WikiLeaks for publication, another avenue of influence would be explored.

The memo says “the tactics would be to spread rumors and misinformation about the content of what already had been leaked and make up new content”. The Russian official alleged by Steele’s sources to be in charge of the operation, Sergei Ivanov – then Putin’s chief of staff – is quoted as saying: “The audience to be targeted by such operations was the educated youth in America as the PA [Russian Presidential Administration] assessed that there was still a chance they could be persuaded to vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump as a protest against the Washington establishment (in the form of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton).”

The Steele dossier said one of the aims of the Russian influence campaign was to peel off voters who had supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and nudge them towards Trump.

Evidence has since emerged that Russians and eastern Europeans posing as Americans targeted Sanders supporters with divisive and anti-Clinton messages in the summer of 2016, after the primaries were over.

The startling claim that Trump was filmed with prostitutes while staying at a Moscow hotel in November 2013, when he was staging the Miss Universe contest there, has not been substantiated in any way.

Nor has the allegation that Trump’s lawyer and vice-president of the Trump Organisation, Michael Cohen, traveled to Prague in August 2013 to conspire with a senior Russian official. In a letter to the House intelligence committee, Cohen said he never went to Prague and took issue with a string of other claims in the dossier.

It has however emerged that Cohen was involved in exploring a real estate deal in Moscow for the Trump Organisation while the campaign was in full swing. He has been summoned to appear in open hearing before the Senate intelligence committee later this month.

The Steele dossier, its author and the firm who hired him, Fusion GPS, have become favored targets for Trump’s loyalists on Capitol Hill. They point to the fact that the genesis of the documents was a paid commission to find damaging facts about Trump.

But the dossier has not faded from view. Instead, it appears to be growing in significance as the investigations have gathered pace.


by Julian Borger in Washington