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Ex-State Department official to testify about deleting Christopher Steele communications

Ron Johnson subpoenas ex-State Department official to testify about deleting Christopher Steele communications

 

A top Republican senator issued a subpoena this week for testimony from Jonathan Winer, a former State Department official who helped British ex-spy Christopher Steele spread Trump-Russia allegations within the Obama administration in 2016.

 

“Among other issues, Mr. Winer’s admitted destruction of his records related to his contacts with Christopher Steele is concerning and deserves an explanation,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson told the Washington Examiner. “I am looking forward to learning more from Mr. Winer in spite of Democrat attempts to further delay our investigation.”

 

The subpoena came after a Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian election interference released this week revealed that after the Steele dossier was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017, Steele asked Winer to "make note" of their correspondence and then "either destroy all the earlier reports Steele had sent the Department of State or return them" to Steele.

 

“So, I destroyed them, and I basically destroyed all the correspondence I had with him," Winer said about information that was on his personal devices. Winer claimed Steele “didn't want [the Russian intelligence services] deconstructing his network.” Before the dossier, between late 2013 and January 2016, Steele provided at least 110 reports on Ukraine and Russia to Winer.

 

The Senate panel said that the State Department was able to use its archives to find many Steele memos from 2015 and some from 2016, but most from 2014 remain missing. “I also, in the same period of time, by the way, in accordance with State Department strictures, destroyed essentially every email I had from the State Department during my tenure," Winer said.

 

Johnson is conducting a sprawling investigation that includes scrutiny of the government’s handling of allegations of Russian interference. He said he wants Winer to testify about his interactions with the former MI6 agent. Although the committee successfully voted along party lines in June to give Johnson the power to issue subpoenas to dozens of Trump-Russia investigation figures, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan called the proposed deposition a “direct and clear violation” of the committee rules, according to a letter obtained by the Hill. In a retort, Johnson said that Peters “wants to keep the American people in the dark by not letting us ask Jonathan Winer about his correspondence with Steele.”

 

A Republican staffer told the Washington Examiner that the claims by Peters were “obstructionist."

The Wisconsin Republican subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide documents related to the FBI’s reliance on Steele’s dossier earlier in August, and Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, are seeking access to records from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation.

 

The intelligence panel's report said that Steele shared allegations in the dossier with a number of State Department officials, “apparently motivated by a concern that the FBI was not moving quickly enough to investigate.” Steele first shared his information, in summary form, with Winer, who gave the summary with then-Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, then-Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson, and then-Chief of Staff to the Secretary and Director of Policy Planning Jonathan Finer, who the Senate panel said “likely briefed” then-Secretary of State John Kerry on the Steele allegations.

 

Finer said he told Kerry about the allegations, but Kerry told the Senate that “he did not recall being briefed or otherwise learning about the existence of the dossier prior to its publication,” which was “a discrepancy the Committee was unable to resolve.”

 

Winer and Steele had known each other “for nearly a decade” by the 2016 election, “and the two would pass each other business leads occasionally,” according to the Senate report. Winer also said he “perhaps” introduced Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to Steele. Winer told Senate investigators “that he did not disclose to security officers at Department of State his ongoing relationship with Steele.” The Senate said Winer “had done occasional private sector work for, and against, Russian oligarchs” but that Winer was serving as the State Department’s special envoy to Libya when Steele showed him the dossier in September 2016.

 

Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, worked for Putin-linked Oleg Deripaska in early 2016, helping recover millions of dollars the Russian oligarch claimed Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had stolen from him when the Republican operative worked for him. Steele sought help in this effort from Fusion GPS, which hired Steele to conduct anti-Trump research soon after.

 

Winer “told the Committee in his first interview that he never met Deripaska in person and has not been in touch with him for 15 years,” but “in a second interview, Winer clarified that Deripaska hired Alston & Bird, specifically Sen. Bob Dole, in 2003, to help with an immigration issue," the intelligence panel report said. Winer “cited attorney-client privilege” about his Deripaska work but told the committee that “if someone, anyone, wanted to travel to the United States and couldn't travel to the United States, I could tell somebody, these are the kinds of things you might have to do if you want to be able to come to the United States … that's the kind of thing that someone like me might tell an oligarch."

 

Beyond Steele’s dossier, the Senate panel said it received two other memos from the FBI titled “The Compromised Candidate” and “FSB Interview,” saying that Steele got them from Winer, who got them from longtime Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal, who in turn received them from Clinton family operative and “sometimes freelance journalist” Cody Shearer. Winer “did not mention the existence of these documents … in his first interview with the Committee,” but he described them in a Washington Post op-ed in February of 2018. The committee “then called Winer in for a second interview to discuss this issue and other follow-up questions.”

 

After talking with Steele in September, Winer asked the heads of Fusion GPS to read the Steele memos, and Fusion GPS let him take notes. "I created a two-page document of the highlights from it for sharing with key people at the Department of State I thought would need to know," Winer said.

During an early October 2016 meeting with the FBI, Steele told the agents that he had given information to “a longtime friend at the State Department" — Winer — "to be sure it's getting to the right place in the USG," the Senate report said. The FBI told Steele to “stand down” on further dossier dissemination and to deal just with the FBI, but “the content of this conversation later became a point of contention between Steele and the FBI.”

 

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign associate Carter Page and for the bureau's reliance on the Democrat-funded dossier compiled by Steele. Declassified footnotes from Horowitz’s report indicate the bureau became aware that Steele’s dossier may have been compromised by Russian disinformation, and FBI interviews show Steele’s primary subsource undercut the credibility of the dossier.

 

Steele also met with Winer and then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec in September 2016 and then at the State Department in mid-October, “conveying to her an overview of the allegations in the still-growing dossier.” Steele sent written responses to the committee that said that “they talked about the substance of the dossier, but Steele did not show Kavalec the memos nor did he bring them to the meeting.” Kavalec's notes “reflect that substance” and also mention that a "Tatyana Duran" from "Orbis Security" attended the meeting.

 

“In his first interview with the Committee, Winer discussed how he shared a summary of Steele's reports within the Department of State and his other activities in September or October of 2016, but he omitted facilitating meetings between Steele and U.S. Government officials during September and October 2016,” the Senate report stated. “However, in his second interview, when shown visitor logs from the Department of State listing Steele as his visitor, Winer said he remembered bringing Steele to the Department of State but did not recall when.”

 

Johnson has fended off criticism of his committee’s investigation by the Right and the Left and released an 11-page defense of the inquiry last week, saying that Democrats “have once again decided to weaponize a false ‘Russian disinformation’ narrative as a tool for attacking their political opponents” while arguing that “it is Democrats who have sought out and disseminated Russian disinformation."

 

 

 

VIMTSTL
Regular Social Butterfly

There's so many crooked things the dems have done.  I don't understand the hold up on convictions.  The average citizen would be in prison for doing a lot less then what hillary, mueller, comey and all the others have done. They must have better and sneakier crooks then the Republicans. lol  But like lying to and stealing from the American people, they've had years of practice.  😡

 

 

TRUMP-PENCE 2020!!! To Save This Country From The Insanity of The Dems!
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