Update, November 12, 2021: An earlier version of this article noted that Sergei Millian was reportedly a source for the Steele dossier, as reported by the Washington Post in 2017. In 2021, the Post retracted part of its reporting on Millian and the dossier and said it “could no longer stand by the accuracy of” that report. The article has been appropriately updated.
The BBC’s Paul Wood writes today about the infamous “dossier” that claims a substantial connection between Russian officials and the Trump campaign team:
The BBC has learned that US officials “verified” a key claim in a report about Kremlin involvement in Donald Trump’s election — that a Russian diplomat in Washington was in fact a spy.
….At one point [the dossier says]: “A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there.”…Sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.
….I understand — from former officials — that from 2013-16, Steele gave the US government extensive information on Russia and Ukraine….One former senior official who saw these reports told me: “It was found to be of value by the people whose job it was to look at Russia every day”….Another who dealt with this material in government said: “Sometimes he would get spun by somebody. [But] it was always 80% there.”…In light of his earlier work, the US intelligence community saw him as “credible” (their highest praise).
….Members of the Obama administration believe, based on analysis they saw from the intelligence community, that the information exchange claimed by Steele continued into the election.
“This is a three-headed operation,” said one former official, setting out the case, based on the intelligence: Firstly, hackers steal damaging emails from senior Democrats. Secondly, the stories based on this hacked information appear on Twitter and Facebook, posted by thousands of automated “bots”, then on Russia’s English-language outlets, RT and Sputnik, then right-wing US “news” sites such as Infowars and Breitbart, then Fox and the mainstream media. Thirdly, Russia downloads the online voter rolls.
The voter rolls are said to fit into this because of “microtargeting”. Using email, Facebook and Twitter, political advertising can be tailored very precisely: individual messaging for individual voters….This would take co-operation with the Trump campaign, it is claimed.
Hmmm. Thousands of bots? Apparently so:
Intel chairman says Russia hired more than 1000 hackers to create fake, anti-Clinton news in key states, won by Trump. @jeffpeguescbs, now pic.twitter.com/mmRBcE4qCu
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 29, 2017
Put all this together and it’s easy to see why the Trump-Russia story won’t go away. The FBI believes Steele to be credible, and other intelligence corroborates much of the alleged Russian activity.
This isn’t going away anytime soon.