Victoria Nuland’s name keeps turning up.
Nuland is the former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs – serving under John Kerry at Obama’s State Department
It now appears that in mid-2016, Nuland gave the green light for FBI Agent Michael Gaeta to meet with Christopher Steele in London.
This wasn’t the first time Nuland encountered Steele’s name. Nuland had known Steel since 2014 through Jonathan Winer.
Some background from a November 15, 2017 Guardian article:
Steele embarked on a separate, sensitive new assignment…England was bidding to host the 2018 soccer World Cup. Its main rival was Russia…His brief was to investigate the eight other bidding nations, with a particular focus on Russia.
Steele discovered that Fifa corruption was global…It was a stunning conspiracy…The US indicted 14 individuals.
The episode burnished Steele’s reputation inside the US intelligence community and the FBI…Steele was regarded as credible.
Between 2014 and 2016, Steele authored more than 100 reports on Russia and Ukraine.
These were written for a private client but shared widely within the US state department, and sent up to secretary of state John Kerry and assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, who was in charge of the US response to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and covert invasion of eastern Ukraine.
Many of Steele’s secret sources were the same people who would later supply information on Trump.
Here’s what Nuland said on the matter during a February 4, 2018 appearance on Face the Nation:
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.
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 comments on Face the Nation came in response to news that that there would be a second phase to Devin Nunes’ House Intelligence investigation into Russian interference – this time focusing on the State Department.
Nuland’s timeline narrative is somewhat different than the one more widely discussed.
The New York Times reported 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.
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 FBI Agent Peter Strzok had the Dossier in his possession.
A third version of events was provided by Jonathan Winer in a Washington Post Op-Ed:
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.
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.
According to a new book, “Russian Roulette,” by Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones magazine’s David Corn, Nuland personally gave permission for the FBI to meet with Steele.
Isikoff and Corn were two of the most prominent journalists Steele leaked to while working for the FBI. Both events are mentioned in the House Intelligence Memo.
From a Washington Times article on the Isikoff and Corn book:
Mr. Steele was excited over his findings about Mr. Trump’s supposed dalliance with Russian prostitutes and purported collusion with the Kremlin. He pressed his handler, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, to let him go to the FBI.
Mr. Simpson agreed. Mr. Steele telephoned Michael Gaeta, an FBI agent with whom he worked on soccer league corruption who was then stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Rome.
“I can’t discuss it over the phone. You have to come here. Believe me, Mike, you have to come to London,” Mr. Steele told him that summer.
Says “Russian Roulette,” “There were a few hoops Gaeta had to jump through. He was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Rome. The FBI checked with Victoria Nuland’s office at the State Department: Do you support this meeting? Nuland, having found Steele’s reports on Ukraine to have been generally credible, gave the green light.”
“Within a few days, on July 5, Gaeta arrived and headed to Steele’s office near Victoria station. Steele handed him a copy of the report. Gaeta, a seasoned FBI agent, started to read. He turned white. For a while, Gaeta said nothing. Then he remarked, ‘I have to report this to headquarters.’”
Ms. Nuland’s name surfaced in January as Senate investigators under Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, turned up evidence that Mr. Steele met with another Obama State Department official, Jonathan Winer.
He worked as a middleman to bring Mr. Steele together with Sidney Blumenthal, a fierce Hillary Clinton defender. Mr. Winer spoke with Ms. Nuland, who gave a heads-up to Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
None of these details were disclosed in Nuland’s description of events. But her timeline proves quite interesting.
The FBI was given the Dossier on July 5, 2016. FBI Agent Gaeta received it via Nuland’s permission.
All reporting and information I’ve seen has consistently stated FBI leadership received the Dossier in late July 2016 – two to three weeks after Gaeta met with Steele.
From Nuland’s description of events:
In the middle of July, when he [Steele] 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.
Again, Nuland says she and the State Department received the talking points of the Dossier in mid-July 2016 – either directly from Steel or via an intermediary – and they passed the information to the FBI.
The implication seems to be that Nuland received the talking points before FBI leadership ever saw the information.
Nuland approved the FBI meeting with Steele. Did she also require that she be presented information from the Steele meeting ahead of anyone else.
Nuland and Winer have both stated the information was given to Secretary of State John Kerry.
From Winer’s Op-Ed:
In September 2016, Steele and I met in Washington and discussed the information now known as the “dossier.”
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.
The real question is when did Kerry receive the information – and from whom.
One scenario that could explain Winer’s differing timeline is relatively simple.
Nuland never told Winer that she had given Gaetz permission to meet with Steele in early July 2016 – nor did Nuland inform Winer that she had already seen Steele’s information.
Perhaps Winer behaved exactly as he detailed in his Op-Ed – unknowing that Nuland was ahead of him by at least two months.
Which raises the question. Did Nuland share the Dossier with anyone other than the FBI.
My guess is we will be hearing more from Victoria Nuland.