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



jonathan winer state department

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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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims



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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”

Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.

RELATED: ‘Let’s play strip poker’: Fmr. Cuomo aide accuses NY governor of sexual harassment

Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.

RELATED: De Blasio ‘sickened’ by Cuomo sexual harassment claims

“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”

“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”

This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”

RELATED: Cuomo responds to sexual harassment claims, saying he ‘may have been insensitive’

During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.

“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”

“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”

Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.

RELATED: ‘Eat the whole sausage: Gov. Cuomo in hot water for resurfaced video

Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.

“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.

“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”

He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.

Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”

“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.

MORE ON CUOMO: NY dem says state legislature is ‘inching toward’ Cuomo impeachment probe

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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