For previous entries in this series see:
Part 3: Digging Deeper Into the Memos
Report 102 suggests that a goal of the Russian campaign was to turn Bernie Sanders supporters into Trump voters and the memo names Carter Page as the impetus for the move. The reason for the release of the DNC emails had now shifted, as if they needed Russian troll farms to do this. The truth of the matter is that the DNC emails caused the resignation of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, but were of little interest outside the DC beltway.
The next memo- #105 on August 22- discussed consternation in the Kremlin over Paul Manafort. Not only is he identified as a means of backchannel communication between the Kremlin and Trump campaign, but also a liability. The memo states that Putin is concerned that Manafort and former Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych had not covered their tracks in a multi-million dollar kickback scheme.
But a week prior to this memo, the New York Times had detailed Manafort’s ties to Russia, Yanukovych, and oligarchs like Deripaska. With reports of Russian meddling, Manafort became a liability to the Trump campaign and was let go. Steele further alleges in the memo that it was Corey Lewandowski who urged Trump to let Manafort go.
There is no record of a meeting between Putin and Yanokovych in Volgograd as alleged. Putin traveled there on August 15 to inspect a new airport. Yankovych was in Volgograd on August 18- three days after Putin had departed. Instead we are to believe that the meeting did take place outside the prying eyes of anyone in the press.
Report #111 is dated September 14, 2016 and deals with more Kremlin intrigue and the recall of a diplomat given their alleged involvement. But there is a more realistic reason for the shuffle in the PA- Russia’s own parliamentary elections that month. According to Steele, Putin is surrounded by two factions- one that urges caution and one that does not. On the cautious side are Sergei Kislyak, the ambassador to the US, the foreign ministry, and Yuri Ushakov, a foreign policy adviser. Steele asserts that the cautious side proved correct which is why Putin demotes Ivanov and replaces him with Anton Vaino of the Foreign Ministry whose forte is Asian-Japanese relations. But, the interference campaign is proceeding and how someone versed in Asian-Pacific relations helps in such a project is undetermined.
That same day comes report 112 which discusses the Alfa group, a huge Russian banking concern headed by Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan. All three are said to be close to Putin and may even have compromising information on him. The links to the Trump campaign are never explained, although it was later discovered that there was strange communications, or pings, between a Trump Organization server and that of the Alfa bank which will be explained later. The Alfa executives are described as “being on good terms with Putin” with Putin doing favors for Alfa and Alfa returning the favors. The intermediary between Putin and Fridman is Oleg Govrun, a PA official who formerly worked for Alfa. Yet, Putin’s relationships with the Alfa executives is well-documented and open sourced.
Steele was not finished because a third report- #113- is dated September 14, 2016 also and outlines some more alleged sexual escapades by Trump while visiting St. Petersburg. The sourcing is rather flimsy and could be just about anyone, but we know they are not linked to any Russian official because they would be “sourced” by a letter. Steele does state that Araz Agalarov would have more details.
The Washington Post describes Source D as Sergei Millian, but Steele describes Source D in his memos as someone who helped Trump arrange his trips to Moscow which would infer the Aragalovs. Further, Source D is also close to the campaign; Millian has questionable connections.
We have to wait almost a month before the next report on October 12th which discusses Putin’s supposed “buyer’s remorse” over supporting Trump and laments the fact the DNC leak publication did not have a greater impact. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is said to be next on the hit list to be sacked by Putin. Obviously, that never happened.
We need to harken back to a previous memo where Steele asserts that Putin put his eggs in Trump’s basket because he both “hated and feared” Hillary Clinton. The “hatred” part one can understand. Putin held a grudge against Clinton for the State Department’s role in fomenting protests in Russia over the 2011 parliamentary elections and his election in 2012. He also rightly believed that the State Department was behind the Ukrainian Maidan protests that ousted Yanukovych. Politically, Clinton was a status quo globalist while Trump was not.
However, it boggles the mind to suggest that Putin “feared” Clinton. Here, after all, was a man who was allegedly interfering in a US election, had apparently orchestrated the Brexit vote, had brazenly annexed the Crimea and sent his stealth troops into Ukraine, had entered the Syrian civil war on the side of Assad, was ordering the killing of dissidents and journalists- in other words, he was one mean sucker- but we are led to believe that Putin feared Clinton?
Further, one has to look at this supposed fear factor in terms of the Russian economy whose life blood is energy revenues. On this issue, Trump and Clinton could not have been more divergent with Trump adopting a full steam ahead energy policy with the goal of making the United States a net exporter of energy, or, in other words, a rival to Russia. If Putin was deciding on his preferred candidate in the US based solely on economics, it would be Clinton. Regardless, when Clinton was at the State Department, Russia pretty much did whatever they wanted geopolitically so what was there to fear?
In report #134 on October 18, we get more details on the alleged meeting between Carter Page and Igor Sechin that occurred in July, and Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is introduced into the mix. Steele suggests that Sechin was offering some portion of a 19% stake in Rosneft. At the time, Sechin was finalizing a deal to sell 19.5% of Rosneft to a joint venture between Qatar and a Swiss commodities trader.
First, there is no proof that Page met with Sechin while in Moscow in July, but the memo now slightly changes that rendition and says it was “an associate” of Sechin, most likely Andrei Baranov. Whoever Steele’s source is for this information, they make some errors. The description of Page’s July lecture mentions the wrong entity. Second, the Rosneft deal was a tightly-held secret. Third, no matter the amount, a brokerage fee to Page would have been huge and would be almost impossible to hide no matter how many offshore accounts the money moved through. The alleged payoff to Page would be several times more than the net worth of Donald Trump. The deal went through on December 8 and no Americans were involved at all.
In the next memo- one day later- Cohen is looked at more closely. In late September, Carter Page took a leave of absence from the campaign given the media exposure of his ties to Russia. Steele seems to suggest that Cohen picked up the ball and met with Russian officials in an unnamed EU country. The next report names that country as the Czech Republic and that Cohen met with Russian officials in Prague, possibly Duma deputy Konstantin Kosachev. Czech officials, later investigating this meeting, said that if Cohen entered the Republic, he did not fly in since there would be a passport record. It is possible that Cohen could have entered the Czech Republic by car or train without having his passport checked since they are part of the Schengen zone.
Cohen was in Italy in July and returned to the US on August 29th. It is conceivable he could have flown to Prague without a passport stamp but for two facts. First, because Czech authorities would not stamp his passport does not mean they would not check his passport and record it, yet there is no record of his entry into the Czech Republic. Unless they turned a blind eye- and there is no logical reason they would- Cezch police and their intelligence services likely would have monitored any meeting between an American and Russian in Prague, yet there is no evidence of that. There is also the fact that the last time Kosachev, who is mischaracterized in the memo also, was in Prague was in September 2012.
The final memo is #166 dated December 13, 2016- well after the election- and adds more detail to the alleged Cohen trip to Prague where he mentions Cohen was with three colleagues (unnamed, of course) and that they discussed payoffs to cover up the supposed collusion if Hillary Clinton won the election. Steele is more specific about the involvement of Romanian hackers and that there was an alleged problem with a cyber operation out of Plovdiv, Bulgaria that needed to be addressed. However, the only known hackers in Plovdiv was a criminal gang of 37 hackers later arrested for the attempted hack of the Bulgarian government.
Next: Putting it all together and no other conclusion: it’s all bullshit.