"As President Trump begins his historic détente with Vladimir Putin, it seems a good time to check in with five other men who, along with Trump and Putin, were mentioned in the explosive ‘Steele Dossier’ that hit U.S. media several weeks ago and has since been largely forgotten. The dossier, which accuses Mr. Trump and members of his campaign staff of treason against the United States, was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former high-ranking agent for Britain’s MI6 intelligence service—and the head of that service’s Russia desk.
Intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic say Steele is highly competent and thoroughly credible.
Reviewing the fates of the five men below, we find that, since their alleged involvement in the activities detailed in the Steele dossier, one of these men was fired from his job, while another was promoted. A third man was found dead in the back of his car the day after Christmas, while the whereabouts of a fourth are unknown—as he’s gone into hiding for fear of his own and his family’s safety.
A fifth met with Vladimir Putin as recently as two weeks ago.
This list of five men does not include former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was mysteriously pushed out by Trump after reports emerged that Manafort indirectly assisted Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine—the very international crime the Trump administration now opposes leveling sanctions to punish. Prior to his departure in August, it was widely reported that Manafort had also been behind the Trump campaign’s efforts, at the Republican convention in July, to amend the party’s platform to adopt a more favorable view of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Carter Page. On March 21, 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump told the editorial board of The Washington Post that Carter Page was a key member of his foreign policy team. To be clear, Trump cited Page, unprompted, by name—indeed, Page’s was one of the very first names Mr. Trump could think of in offering up his roster of foreign policy advisers. Four months later, Page travelled to Moscow to give a speech at the Higher Economic School. It was at this point, according to the Steele dossier, that the CEO of Russia’s national oil company, Igor Sechin, offered Page brokerage of a 19 percent stake in the oil company if he would convince Mr. Trump to lift U.S. sanctions on Russian oil.
Four days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Russia sold a 19.5 percent stake in its oil company to an undisclosed buyer.
U.S. media, which has repeatedly asserted that it cannot confirm any facts in the Steele dossier, seems to have done virtually no investigation of this uncanny coincidence.
Will the media change its tune, now that intelligence agencies have announced, this week, that in fact they can confirm some of the dossier?
In any case, the source for Mr. Steele’s inclusion of the Page-Sechin meeting in his dossier was ‘a trusted compatriot and close associate’ of Sechin—now believed to be one of Mr. Sechin’s top aides, Oleg Erovinkin. Steele is no longer the only person to report on the meeting; last July, further confirmation of the meeting came from a U.S. intelligence source who spoke to Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff.
Politico reports that while in Moscow Page may also have met with Sergei Ivanov, the then-chief of Putin’s presidential administration. And Isikoff’s sources claim that Page also met with a third man—a senior Kremlin internal affairs official named Igor Diveykin.
Steele’s dossier, which also contends that Page met with Diveykin in Moscow, suggests that it was at this third meeting that Diveykin revealed to Page that the Russian government held compromising material (called kompromat in Russia) on Mr. Trump.
Page’s Moscow speech condemned—shockingly—the United States for its purportedly ‘hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change’ in its Russia policy. Page was dumped from the Trump campaign in September—two months after his Russia trip—and President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer now insists that Mr. Trump ‘does not know’ Page.
That appears to be a lie.
We needn’t take Donald Trump’s statements to The Washington Post as proof of this, however. Why? Because Page himself has spoken on the issue. Page now says that ‘I’ve certainly been in a number of meetings with Trump, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him.’
This wouldn’t be the first time high-level officials in the Trump administration have lied about who they know or have talked to; indeed, it was just revealed this week that Michael Flynn—Mr. Trump’s top adviser on Russia policy—seemingly lied to the vice president of the United States, the chief of staff to the president, and the White House press secretary about whether he was negotiating with the Russians prior to Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Did Mr. Flynn go rogue? Or did Mr. Trump—who now claims to be mystified about the news of Mr. Flynn’s pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.—order the conversation and then deny knowledge of it, much like he had many conversations with Carter Page and then denied knowing him at all?"