On February 4, 2018, Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama Administration went on Face the Nation and made the following comment:
During the Ukraine crisis in 2014-15, Chris Steele had a number of commercial clients who were asking him for reports on what was going on in Russia, what was going on in Ukraine, what was going on between them. Chris had a friend [Jonathan Winer] at the State Department and he offered us that reporting free so that we could also benefit from it. It was one of, you know, hundreds of sources that we were using to try to understand what was going on.
Then, in the middle of July, when he was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.
Nuland said the State Department received the Dossier directly from Steele in mid-July 2016, whereupon the State Department turned it over to the FBI (segmented video here).
Which is right around the time Susan Rice began showing increased interest in National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence material – including “unmasked” Americans’ identities. From a Circa article:
Intelligence sources said the logs discovered by National Security Council staff suggested Rice’s interest in the NSA materials, some of which included unmasked Americans’ identities, appeared to begin last July around the time Trump secured the GOP nomination and accelerated after Trump’s election in November launched a transition that continued through January.
Nuland’s comment came in response to news that that there would be a second phase of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ investigation into Russian interference – this time focusing on the State Department.
Nunes sent a questionnaire to about two dozen current and former intelligence, law enforcement and State Department officials.
My guess is Nuland was one of them. Former Secretary of State John Kerry may have been another.
The New York Times had earlier reported that the FBI received the Steele Dossier directly from Christopher Steele on July 5, 2016 – the same day as Comey’s infamous exoneration of Hillary Clinton during a news conference:
The reports came from a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele, who was working as a private investigator hired by a firm working for a Trump opponent. He provided the documents to an F.B.I. contact in Europe on the same day as Mr. Comey’s news conference about Mrs. Clinton. It took weeks for this information to land with Mr. Strzok and his team.
This claim was recently repeated in a lengthy article in the New Yorker.
In this version, the Steele Dossier was given to the FBI on July 5, 2016. By ~July 20, 2016, Comey had seen it and Strzok had the Dossier in his possession.
There is a third version of events, provided by Jonathan Winer in a Washington Post Op-Ed:
In 2009, I met and became friends with Steele, after he retired from British government service focusing on Russia. Steele was providing business intelligence on the same kinds of issues I worked on at the time.
Over the years, Steele and I had discussed many matters relating to Russia. He asked me whether the State Department would like copies of new information as he developed it.
I contacted Victoria Nuland, a career diplomat who was then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and shared with her several of Steele’s reports. She told me they were useful and asked me to continue to send them. Over the next two years, I shared more than 100 of Steele’s reports with the Russia experts at the State Department, who continued to find them useful.
In the summer of 2016, Steele told me that he had learned of disturbing information regarding possible ties between Donald Trump, his campaign and senior Russian officials. He did not provide details but made clear the information involved “active measures,” a Soviet intelligence term for propaganda and related activities to influence events in other countries.
In September 2016, Steele and I met in Washington and discussed the information now known as the “dossier.” Steele’s sources suggested that the Kremlin not only had been behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign but also had compromised Trump and developed ties with his associates and campaign.
I was allowed to review, but not to keep, a copy of these reports to enable me to alert the State Department. I prepared a two-page summary and shared it with Nuland, who indicated that, like me, she felt that the secretary of state [John Kerry] needed to be made aware of this material.
In this third version, Nuland and the State Department received the Dossier in September 2016.
Nuland made her comments on February 4, 2018. Winer wrote his Op-Ed on February 8, 2018.
Winer has known Steele since 2009. Nuland has known Steele since 2014 – during the Ukraine crisis.
Victoria Nuland is famous for an interesting conversation with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt on or before February 4, 2014 (transcript here):
During the call, which was intercepted and leaked, the two appear to be discussing replacing Ukrainian President Yanukovych with opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Some excerpts:
PYATT: I think we’re in play. The Klitschko [Vitaly Klitschko, one of three main opposition leaders] piece is obviously the complicated electron here.
NULAND: Good. I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.
PYATT: Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together.
NULAND: I think Yats [opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk] is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside.
PYATT: The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.
NULAND: Sullivan’s come back to me VFR, saying you need [Vice President] Biden and I said probably tomorrow. So Biden’s willing.
Here’s what actually happened:
On or before February 4 2014 – Call between Pyatt and Nuland.
February 22, 2014 – Yanukovych was removed as President of Ukraine.
April 18 2014 – Hunter Biden was appointed to the Board of Directors for Burisma – one of the largest natural gas companies in Ukraine.
April 22 2014 – VP Biden travels to Ukraine and offers support and $50 million in aid for Yatsenyuk’s shaky new government.
On January 11, 2017, Politico published an investigative article, Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
That Ukrainian-American was DNC operative Alexandra Chalupa.
Manafort’s work for Yanukovych caught the attention of a veteran Democratic operative named Alexandra Chalupa, who had worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the Clinton administration. Chalupa went on to work as a staffer, then as a consultant, for Democratic National Committee.
The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records, though she also was paid by other clients during that time, including Democratic campaigns and the DNC’s arm for engaging expatriate Democrats around the world.
Some actions taken by Chalupa (sources from Politico article unless otherwise linked):
January 3 2014 – Leaders representing more than a dozen Ukrainian-American organizations, including the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, met at the White House with President Obama’s senior national security staff to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
The non-partisan meeting held on January 3 was initiated by the co-chairs of Ukrainian-Americans for Obama, Julian Kulas, Andrew Fedynsky and Ulana Mazurkevich, as well Alexandra Chalupa, co-convener of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee.
This was approximately one month prior to Nuland’s call with Pyatt regarding the installation of Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister of Ukraine.
2014 (undetermined) -Chalupa begins to investigate Paul Manafort.
Chalupa, a lawyer by training, in 2014 was doing pro bono work for another client interested in the Ukrainian crisis and began researching Manafort’s role in Yanukovych’s rise, as well as his ties to the pro-Russian oligarchs who funded Yanukovych’s political party.
Late 2015 – Chalupa expands her opposition research into Manafort to include Trump’s ties to Russia.
Chalupa told Politico she had developed a network of sources in Kiev and Washington, including investigative journalists, government officials and private intelligence operatives. When Trump’s unlikely presidential campaign began surging in late 2015, she began focusing more on the research, and expanded it to include Trump’s ties to Russia, as well.
She occasionally shared her findings with officials from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign
January 2016 – Chalupa informs a senior DNC official that she feels there is a Russia connection with the Trump Campaign.
Chalupa told a senior DNC official that, when it came to Trump’s campaign, “I felt there was a Russia connection,” Chalupa recalled. “And that, if there was, that we can expect Paul Manafort to be involved in this election,” said Chalupa, who at the time also was warning leaders in the Ukrainian-American community that Manafort was “Putin’s political brain for manipulating U.S. foreign policy and elections.”
March 25 2016 – Chalupa shared her concerns with the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.
She said she shared her concern with Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, and one of his top aides, Oksana Shulyar, during a March 2016 meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy. According to someone briefed on the meeting, Chaly said that Manafort was very much on his radar, but that he wasn’t particularly concerned about the operative’s ties to Trump.
March 29 2016 – Chalupa briefs DNC Communication staff.
The day after Manafort’s hiring was revealed, she briefed the DNC’s communications staff on Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia, according to an operative familiar with the situation.
A former DNC staffer and the operative familiar with the situation agreed that with the DNC’s encouragement, Chalupa asked embassy staff to try to arrange an interview in which Poroshenko might discuss Manafort’s ties to Yanukovych.
While the embassy declined that request, officials there became “helpful” in Chalupa’s efforts, she said, explaining that she traded information and leads with them.
Chalupa said the embassy also worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions.
April 4 – April 12 2016 – Ukrainian Parliamentarian Olga Bielkov has four meetings – with Samuel Charap (International Institute for Strategic Studies), Liz Zentos (National Security Council), Michael Kimmage (State Dept) and David Kramer (McCain Institute).
Doug Schoen files FARA documents that show he was paid $40,000 a month by Ukrainian Billionaire Victor Pinchuk (page 5) to arrange these meetings.
Schoen attempts to arrange another 72 meetings with Congressmen and media (page 10). It is unknown how many meetings took place.
April 6 2016 – Chalupa holds a meeting with an assistant of Representative Marcy Kaptur.
Chalupa confirmed that, a week after Manafort’s hiring was announced, she discussed the possibility of a congressional investigation with a foreign policy legislative assistant in the office of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who co-chairs the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.
April 26 2016 – Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff publishes story on Yahoo News about Paul Manafort’s business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
April 28 2016 – Chalupa appears on a panel to discuss her research on Manafort with a group of 68 Ukrainian investigative journalists gathered at the Library of Congress for a program sponsored by a U.S. congressional agency called the Open World Leadership Center.
From a Wikileaks email sent by Chalupa to Luis Miranda, Communications Director of the DNC:
I spoke to a delegation of 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine last Wednesday at the Library of Congress – the Open World Society’s forum – they put me on the program to speak specifically about Paul Manafort and I invited Michael Isikoff whom I’ve been working with for the past few weeks and connected him to the Ukrainians.
Open World is a supposedly non-partisan Congressional agency.
Michael Isikoff is the same journalist Christopher Steele leaked to in September 2016:
The Carter Page FISA application extensively cited a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focused on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This information was used to corroborate the Steele Dossier.
Steele leaked to Isikoff who wrote the article for Yahoo News. The Isikoff article was then used to help obtain a Title I FISA grant to gather information on Page. This search was then leaked by Steele to David Corn at Mother Jones.
Isikoff accompanied Chalupa to a reception at the Ukrainian Embassy immediately after the Library of Congress event.
Remember when we learned last week that Michael Isikoff’s Fusion GPS-supplied “reporting” was used as evidence to confirm supposed veracity of TrumpRussia dossier?
He was simultaneously recruited by DNC/Clinton to dig up anti-Trump dirt.
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) February 6, 2018
May 3 2016 – Chalupa emails Luis Miranda, Communications Director of the DNC (same email referenced above).
A lot more coming down the pipe…More offline tomorrow since there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I’m working on you should be aware of.
Late July 2016 – Chalupa leaves the DNC to work full-time on her research into Manafort.
Chalupa left the DNC after the Democratic convention in late July to focus full-time on her research into Manafort, Trump and Russia. She said she provided off-the-record information and guidance to “a lot of journalists” working on stories related to Manafort and Trump’s Russia connections.
August 4 2016 – Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. writes op-ed against Trump.
August 15 2016 – CNN reports that Manafort is named in a Ukrainian probe over potentially illegal payments received from Ukraine’s pro-Russian ruling party.
August 19 2016 – CNN reports the FBI is conducting an inquiry into Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s payments from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine in 2007 and 2009.
August 19 2016 – Ukrainian parliament member Sergii Leshchenko holds news conference to draw attention to Paul Manafort and Trump’s “pro-Russia” ties.
September 19 2016 – At UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Ukrainian President Poroshenko meets with Hillary Clinton.
November 28 2016 – McCain associate David Kramer flies to London to meet Christopher Steele for a briefing on the Dossier. Upon Kramer’s return, Fusion GPS provided McCain with a copy of the Dossier.
July 24 2017 – Senator Charles Grassley sends a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding the actions taken by Chalupa.
According to news reports, during the 2016 presidential election, “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” and did so by “disseminat[ing] documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter.
At the center of this plan was Alexandra Chalupa, described by reports as a Ukrainian-American operative “who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee” and reportedly met with Ukrainian officials during the presidential election for the express purpose of exposing alleged ties between then-candidate Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and Russia.
Chalupa’s actions appear to show that she was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S voting population but U.S. government officials.
Aside from the apparent evidence of collusion between the DNC, Clinton campaign, and Ukrainian government, Chalupa’s actions implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Chalupa reportedly worked directly with Ukrainian government officials to benefit Ukraine, lobbying Congress on behalf of Ukraine, and worked to undermine the Trump campaign on behalf of Ukraine and the Clinton campaign.
The January 4, 2018 Grassley Memo – made public on February 6, 2018, made clear that both the State Department and the Clinton Campaign directly contributed information used by Steele in the formation of his Dossier.
I’m curious if Chalupa met directly with Christopher Steele. It’s clear her research was funneled by the DNC to Steele’s Dossier.
Former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland must have known about all of this. People above her had to know as well.
On March 6, 2018, Sara Carter reported that the House Intelligence Committee is now investigating former Secretary of State John Kerry:
The House Select Committee on Intelligence is now investigating former Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s possible role into the unverified dossier paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton Campaign.
The climb up the Obama Administration hierarchy appears to have finally begun.
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