The indictment and subsequent guilty plea of George Papadopoulos have provided some interesting insights into the allegations in the Trump Dossier, that catalog of mischief that Mueller is supposed to be investigating rather than looking into decade-old instances of failure to file tax returns. One of the most convoluted is the links between Papadopoulos and one of the unnamed sources in the Trump Dossier.
Source D and Source E
Some of the most serious and all of the most salacious allegations in the Trump dossier come from two sources. Source D is identified as “a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow.” Source E’s identifying description is redacted but we are informed the source is an “ethnic Russian” and a “close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump.” And the source is referred to as “s/he.”
Back in January, the Wall Street Journal reported on the identity of both sources:
Some of the most explosive parts of a dossier containing unverified allegations that President Donald Trump had secret ties to Russian leaders originated from the Belarus-born head of a Russian-American business group, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Sergei Millian, a 38-year-old American citizen who has claimed he helped market Trump properties to Russian buyers, wasn’t a direct source for the 35-page dossier, this person said. Rather, his statements about the Trump-Russia relationship were relayed by at least one third party to the British ex-spy who prepared the dossier, the person said.
There are several small problems presented by this. Millian is not an associate of Trump, close or otherwise. He’s had his picture taken with Trump at a couple of Meet-and-Greets but that is about the limit of it. And having Source E validate Source D’s story, when they are the same person is not considered the best intelligence work, though it could explain the demise of the British Empire.
The Papadopoulos Link
The Washington Post ran this story yesterday–you should read the whole thing to get a feel for Papadopoulos — it is damned few campaign volunteers who’ve gone on television to demand that the prime minister of an allied nation apologize to their candidate:
In September, Papadopoulos emailed another Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn, and told him he planned to be in New York and hoped to set up meetings around the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
The email was described to The Washington Post in August of this year and is among 20,000 pages of documents that the Trump campaign has turned over to the White House, Congressional committees and defense attorneys.
Papadopoulos wrote that he wanted to connect Epshteyn with a friend, Sergei Millian of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce, the emails said.
Millian would later be identified as a major source for the author of a dossier that included unsubstantiated salacious allegations about Trump’s activities in Russia, a claim Millian has denied.
Epshteyn said he never met Millian and declined to comment further. Asked in August to describe his relationship with Papadopoulos, Millian responded by email, “I can meet and talk to any person. . . . It’s none of your business.”
Millian did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
This opens an interesting possibility into the sourcing for the dossier.
We know, via the dossier author Christopher Steele’s own description, that he did not interview the sources himself. He used intermediaries. This is former Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell from a March 2017 interview:
About the dossier, Morell said, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.”
The dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think,” he said.
He continued: “I had two questions when I first read it. One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.
“And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more.
“I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.”
This explains the sloppy validation of claims. More interesting is that the email quoted by the post is Papadopoulos trying to set up a face-to-face meeting with Millian and a top Trump campaign official. This implies a certain level of familiarity on the part of Papadopoulos and Millian. If they were friends. it looks like, at least to me, that a plausible explanation for the core of the dossier is a very junior staffer shooting the crap with a newfound Russian friend in order to inflate his position on the campaign. And the Russian is inflating his own Trump credentials while peddling the information to an intermediary working for Christopher Steele. Who is selling this to the Clinton campaign, the DNC, Obama’s OFA, and the FBI.
How much of the strategic insights of the campaign as articulated in the dossier were developed in a very similar manner?