A flurry of new stories are out about the investigation of possible ties between Russia and President Trump, and specifically about the controversial dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer at the heart of the matter. One name in particular is gaining prominence, that of Mikhail Kalugin, a Russian diplomat who worked in DC but is now back in Moscow. The BBC thinks he's a Russian spy who coordinated the financing of Russian hackers. A look at the coverage:
- Overview: Vanity Fair has a lengthy primer on how Christopher Steele, the former British agent, compiled his dossier and then decided to put it in the hands of reporters when he felt it wasn't being taken seriously by the FBI. The piece also recounts a clandestine meeting between Steele and a former State Department official, who received the dossier and turned it over to John McCain, who in turn handed it over to the FBI. Read it here.
- Kalugin: Steele wrote of him in his dossier, though he misspelled the name: "A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there."
- His role: A BBC report says it has confirmed that Kalugin was, in fact, no mere diplomat but a Russian spy. McClatchy previously reported that he went back to Moscow in August as federal investigators examined his role in the hacking. He allegedly hid payments to the Russian hackers through veterans' pension benefits, though he denies all of this.
- Trump connection? The BBC quotes anonymous sources as saying that once hackers got information on Democrats, along with voter rolls, the Russians would have needed to coordinate with the Trump campaign to disseminate the information to carefully targeted groups of voters. "This is the 'big picture' some accuse the FBI of failing to see," writes Paul Wood.
- Source D: One of Steele's key sources, identified as "Source D" in his dossier, is Sergei Millian, a Belorussian-American businessman profiled by the Washington Post. He provided Steele with some of the more volatile accusations, including claims that Moscow was blackmailing Trump. How trustworthy is he? "By his own evolving statements, Sergei Millian is either a shrewd businessman with high-level access to both Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin, or a bystander unwittingly caught up in a global controversy," per the Post. Its conclusion is that "he is little of both." Read the full piece here.
- Steele to DC? The Senate Intelligence Committee is negotiating to have Steele come to DC to testify, though Steele is apparently worried about his safety if he leaves London, reports NBC News.
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