Thursday, March 15, 2018

Identifying Steele's sources. Plus: A criticism of David Corn and Michael Isikoff

In the preceding post, I repeated something I've mentioned in these cyber-pages several times: An anonymous reader said that the likeliest candidate for the Steele Dossier's "Source E" is Boris Epshteyn. The Corn/Isikoff book Russian Roulette mentions another possibility: Sergei Millian. The WP tentatively identified him as Source D.
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.

An examination of Millian’s career shows he is a little of both. His case lays bare the challenge facing the FBI as it investigates Russia’s alleged attempts to manipulate the American political system and whether Trump associates participated.

It also illustrates why the Trump administration remains unable to shake the Russia story. While some of the unproven claims attributed in the dossier to Millian are bizarre and outlandish, there are also indications that he had contacts with Trump’s circle.

Millian told several people that during the campaign and presidential transition he was in touch with George Papadopoulos, a campaign foreign policy adviser, according to a person familiar with the matter.
More here:
President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was copied on emails sent to the Trump campaign last year from Sergei Millian, the Belarus-born businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization and was reportedly a key source in the explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia.

Senate Judiciary Committee leaders said on Thursday that Trump campaign officials had handed over "communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner," that Kushner had apparently failed to disclose voluntarily. Kushner also received an email that discussed a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" from Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of Russia's central bank, according to NBC.

Jared Kushner's lawyer told the committee that the "communications" with Millian were between Millian and Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which Cohen was urging Millian to stop speaking to the press.
Epshteyn and Millian link up through our old friend Papadopoulos:
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.
Just to refresh your memory, here is the actual text of the Steele dossier:
3. However, there were other aspects to TRUMP's engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable 'kompromat' [compromising material] on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP's (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and OBAMA {whom he hated] had stayed on one other official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

4. The Moscow Ritz Carlton episode involving TRUMP reported above was confirmed by Source E, [REDACTED] who said that s/he and several of the staff were aware of it at time and subsequently. S/he believed it had happened in 2013. Source provided an introduction for a company ethnic Russian operative to Source F, a female staffer at the hotel when TRUMP had stayed there, who also confirmed the story. Speaking separately in June 2016, Source B (the former top level Russian intelligence officer) asserted that unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years had provided the authorities there with enough embarrassing material on the now Republican presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.
Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source B, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership.
Inter alia, Source E, acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform.
Shortly after Buzzfeed bestowed the Dossier upon the world, the WP published a story indicating that Source E was an "ethnic Russian" in Trump's inner circle. These words describe Epshteyn. To some degree, they also point to Millian, although I would hesitate to say that he was a member of the inner circle.
In the wider context campaign/Kremlin co-operation, Source E claimed that the intelligence network being used against CLINTON comprised three elements. Firstly there were agents/facilitators within the Democratic Party structure itself; secondly Russian emigre and associated offensive cyber operators based in the and thirdly, state-sponsored cyber operatives working in Russia. All three elements had played an important role to date. On the mechanism for rewarding relevant assets based in the US, and effecting a two-way flow of intelligence and other useful information, Source E claimed that Russian diplomatic staff in key cities such as New York, Washington DC and Miami were using the emigre 'pension' distribution system as cover. The operation therefore depended on key people in the US Russian emigre community for its success. Tens of thousands of dollars were involved.
The allegation about agents within the Democratic party receives insufficient attention. The reader may decide whether Millian or Epshteyn is more likely to be privy to this information. For my part, I would -- hesitantly -- suggest that Source D could be Millian and Source E could be Epshteyn. Obviously, this guess may be wide of the mark.

Now go here:
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.
From the Dossier:
Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years.
The suggestion is that Erovinkin was either A or B.

A couple of nights ago, Rachel Maddow reported that Mike Pompeo has commanded the CIA's Countintelligence Center to report solely to himself. This claim intrigued me. Regular readers will known of my fixation with James J. Angleton, who headed the CIA's counterintelligence effort from the Agency's founding until 1974. It was named the Counterintelligence Center in 1988; in Angleton's day, it was called the Counterintelligence Staff, and it took up the second floor of CIA headquarters. The famously paranoid Angleton erected a CIA-within-the-CIA, with its own filing system and even its own assassination capability.

Nobody outside the intelligence community really knows how the counterintelligence center operates now. I don't even know who is in charge at present, aside from Pompeo himself. All of the post-Angleton heads of counterintelligence have been rather mysterious figures.

A side note: After reading about the JFK assassination for many years, I have formed the opinion that Jim Angleton masterminded the crime. I've no faith in my ability to convince others to share this conclusion; doing so would require the writing of a very long book. If, in the short time remaining to me, I ever do write a book, it won't be that one. Thus, the "JJA did it" theory is just one man's private conclusion; feel free to deride it, if doing so gives you pleasure. I make public mention of my belief only because there is a small possibility that one reader will decide to research the matter for himself or herself -- and perhaps write the book that I can't.

Let us now return to the present day.

In Russian Roulette, Corn and Isikoff reported that Tillerson became Secretary of State because Russia approved of him. If that claim is true -- and I think it is -- then it stands to reason that Pompeo also has the Moscow stamp of approval.

For reasons given in the preceding post, I suspect that Pompeo is a Russian agent. If so, then Russia would now know everything about CIA's counterintelligence efforts. Russia would know about our moles in their system, and would be able to compromise American efforts to uncover Russian agents in this country.

Absolutely terrifying.

Speaking of the JFK assassination:
In Russian Roulette, Corn and Isikoff blunder badly when they suggest, at one point, that the entire JFK assassination controversy was a Russian disinformation effort.


Right-wingers have made this claim for may years, most notoriously in a book called The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report. That exercise in calumny doesn't bother to present anything resembling evidence. Look it up for yourselves, if you can find a copy of the book. (It's now rather rare; I stumbled across it at UCLA.)

I could write a post twice as long as this one explaining why this claim is a canard. The bottom line is simple enough: If there were any proof that the Russians had a hand in fomenting distrust of the Warren Report, we would have seen that proof long ago.

The Warren Commission critics have long been subject to attack through fair means and foul. Nobody can claim that the first generation critics received soft treatment -- hell, they were accused of every imaginable sin. Yet no-one has ever presented any evidence linking them to the Soviets.

The history of how the JFK assassination research community came together in the 1960s is well-documented. If you seek granular detail, John Kelin's Praise From a Future Generation scrupulously reconstructs how that community originated and how it interacted. These people were citizen investigators whose names, occupations and sources of income are all known or easily discoverable. Much of their private correspondence still exists. (A surprising amount of it is online, via the Harold Weisberg and Mary Ferrell collections.)

It's no secret that those in the critical community loved to gossip about each other. It's also no secret that their interactions were marred by bickering and backstabbing. All dirty laundry received an airing, even if the "dirt" amounted to a few tiny particles of soot.

Whether you admire those "first generation" critics or consider them contemptible, two facts are beyond dispute: 1. Their history is on the record. 2. The USSR played no role in that history. There is not a single anecdote suggesting that anyone in that community spoke to or gained information from any Russian agent. And I can assure you that the Russians didn't fund anyone.

The sole exception is this highly dubious smear-job directed at Mark Lane. The source -- predictably enough -- is a document written by William Sullivan, who was Angleton's man in the FBI. Please note that this document was released only after Lane was no longer around to defend himself. The CIA had targeted Lane for attack back in the 1960s and would not have kept secret any provable damaging information about him. The footnotes for Lane's books are copious and demonstrate that he depended entirely on material in the public record.

There have been JFK assassination books which I consider disinformation -- and these efforts all came from non-Russian sources. By "disinformation," I refer to works such as Hugh McDonald's Appointment in Dallas or Edward Epstein's Legend. Epstein was close to Angleton. I cannot think of a single title in the literature even suspected of having a Russian origin. (A faction of French intelligence created a strange work called Farewell America, which caused a stir back in the day.)

The Corn/Isikoff book is, in many other respects, quite fine. But this gratuitous, evidence-free dig at the JFK research community required a correction.
I'm just hoping that Stormy says that #donnysmallhands likes golden showers.
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