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State Dept. Conduit For British Spy Also Worked With Russian Oligarch, Flip-Flopped During Testimony

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A former senior State Department official that had close ties to former British spy Christopher Steele and operated as a conduit for his debunked dossier suggesting President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election, also worked as a lobbyist for Russian aluminum magnet and oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is also a controversial figure in the RussiaGate saga.

Jonathan Winer, a top aide to former Secretary of State John Kerry, worked with Deripaska prior to his involvement with Steele in the RussiaGate scandal targeting President Trump but he didn’t reveal that to lawmakers the first time they interviewed him, according to the final volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report.

It was Steele’s dossier, which was not verified by the FBI, that allowed agents within the bureau to obtain a warrant to spy on Carter Page, an American, whose name was tarnished in the media. Page is now suing and has recently written a book titled Abuse of Power, How An Innocent American Was Framed In An Attempted Coup Against The President.

In the report’s footnotes the Senate details:

Jonathan Winer, a decade-long professional contact of Steele’s, also worked for Deripaska, but 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. In a second interview, Winer clarified that Deripaska hired Alston & Bird, specifically Senator Bob Dole, in 2003, to help with an immigration issue. Winer, in his capacity as an attorney at Alston & Bird, provided assistance to Senator Dole. Winer cited attorney-client privilege in declining to provide details on his work for Deripaska, but he did give a general example: “For exampie, 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 ofthings you might have to do ifyou want to be able to come to the United States, and they’re real; they’re not bogus. It’s not a matter of doing it half-heartedly, and these are the consequences, positive and negative. That’s the kind ofthing that someone like me might tell an oligarch.” Winer Tr., pp. 23, 88-89; SSCI Transcript ofthe Second Interview with Jonathan Winer, April 18, 2018, p. 4. Winer also said that Bill Browder was one of his clients.

As you can see in the footnotes Winer originally told lawmakers that he never met Deripaska. He later flip-flopped and changed his answer, suggesting that he met the Oligarch in 2003, after Deripaska hired the law firm of Alston & Bird where Winer was working.

Alston & Bird could not be immediately be reached for comment regarding Winer’s role with Deripaska. Winer also worked on behalf of a lobbying firm in Washington D.C. that lobbied on behalf of the Russian governments energy companies, as first reported by Real Clear Politics.

However, as I originally wrote in October 2017, that company had close connections to the Clinton Foundation and others in the Obama Administration. In fact, the “Russian company, whose former executive was the target of an FBI investigation and who admitted to corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation, paid millions of dollars in consulting fees in 2010 and 2011″ to an American lobbying firm, to lobby the U.S. regulatory agencies on behalf of Russia. Read the story here.

But do you see the difference in how Winer has been treated by the Senate lawmakers versus the treatment received by Roger Stone, who also testified to lawmakers and was accused of lying to the House. He wasn’t given a second chance to clarify. In fact, he was charged with lying under oath to lawmakers and was taken into custody by an armada of federal law enforcement officials, who leaked his arrest to CNN so that it could be televised to the world.

That’s the difference between those who have power and those who don’t. Apparently the bureaucracy protects its own. Winer was working for a Russian Oligarch and was great friends with Steele, a foreign spy who was paying Russian intelligence officials for lies against President Trump. By the way, Steele was also working for Deripaska during his long and illustrious career as an investigator after leaving Britain’s spy agency MI6. Steele’s private company Orbis Intelligence, which he cofounded in 2009, was central to the majority of the former British spy’s contacts throughout the world. His work was mainly to assist businesses access the security and financial outlooks in foreign countries of interest.

What led to his involvement in a U.S. election and targeting of President Trump almost reads like a fictional spy thriller but the tragedy is that it was very real.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Let’s look at what the Senate Intelligence Report says about Fusion GPS, the company that hired Steele for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee:

Several other people who appear in this section also have ties to Deripaska. Simpson told the Committee he had written stories about Deripaska for The Wall Street Journal. Simpson Tr., pp. 147, 181. Simpson also said that “I believe that I have reached out to his companies and employees on numerous occasions when I was a journalist. And beyon~ that, I don’t think I’ve knowingly had any contact with his organization.” Ibid., p. 88. However, David Kramer said that Simpson had once worked for Deripaska. He said: “Actually, I know Simpson had….just that he had been hired .to do some work for Deripaska in the past. I will tell you that call:sed me a little consternation.” Kramer Tr., p. 12. The Committee was not able to rectify this discrepancy.

Moreover, the lawmakers question Steele’s description of Deripaska and the role he had as an alleged source in the dossier.

For example, the Senate Intelligence Committee “found ample evidence to dispute Steele’s assessment that Deripaska is “not the leadership tool some have alleged.” Rather, Deripaska is a key implementer of Russian influence operations around the globe.”

And what about this mysterious Orbis report that no one in the U.S. government has been able to locate?

“So I destroyed them,” said Jonathan Winer about Steele’s emails. “I basically destroyed all the correspondence I had with him.”

Jonathan Winer, a former top State Department Aide for former Secretary of State John Kerry

“Multiple witnesses, to include Simpson, Ohr, and Waldman, either told the Committee or implied to the Committee that Steele had a business relationship with Deripaska,” states the report. “One recognized link between the two men was a pair of lawyers: Deripaska’s London-based attorney, Paul Hauser, and Waldman, Deripaska’s D.C.-based attorney. This email suggests that Steele planned to share the Orbis report with the United States Government, initially through contact and handling agent. The Committee notes that neither Steele (through counsel), Ohr, Department of Justice have been able to locate that report or produce it to the Committee.”

Interesting that this report is still missing. Even more daunting is Winer’s admission to the Senate that he destroyed all his email correspondence with Steele before leaving the State Department. It seems to be a theme with the former administration, as Clinton also admitted to destroying her phones, using a personal server to transmit government emails (including classified ones) and bleach biting what she needed to be permanently erased from her computers.

Winer distributed these reports. He helped Steele, who helped the Russians through Deripaska to spread lies about Trump.

Winer admitted that he destroyed all the reports.

“So I destroyed them,” Winer told Senate lawmakers. “I basically destroyed all the correspondence I had with him.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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