There is perhaps no lie more damning and central to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation than that of “Sergei Millian as Dossier Source”. No other lie is so lacking in evidentiary support, and so transparent in its criminal deceit. It was a lie borne of desperation in the middle of an FBI interrogation, and then eagerly repeated for profit by pliant, uncritical media colleagues for three years running.
Can there be a lie more cold, repugnant, and traitorous than that of the intelligence community burning its own CI asset Carter Page to claim him an agent of a hostile foreign power? To begin to examine this question, we must reaffirm the central importance of PERSON-1 as it relates to this crime. As Inspector Horowitz notes, the Carter Page FISA wouldn’t exist without the Dossier claims, and those necessary Dossier claims don’t exist without a PERSON-1 (aka Source D/E).
THE ARCHITECT – GLENN SIMPSON
Let’s wipe the slate clean and start over from the beginning. In the Fall of 2015 Glenn Simpson was scouring for information on Donald’s nascent campaign. He primarily worked the web and other open sources in a process he dubs: “boning up on Trump.” (p67). Some of Simpson’s early targets are Felix Sater, Bayrock, Trump’s business affairs, the Agalarovs, Tavfik Arif, Sergei Millian, etc. * Any foreigner ever mentioned in proximity to Trump or his family is game.
Simpson had distributed early proto-dossiers to several media colleagues by this time which already included accusations of Trump’s sexual impropriety, long predating any work by Steele. A former Trump staffer recounts that a “Politico reporter” was cold-calling Trump associates in the fall of 2015 trying to confirm stories of “sexual orgies”with Moscow prostitutes. When the staffer asked “who had told them” such stories, the reporter responded “no one”, and that they had got the information from a “document made by Fusion GPS that’s been floating around”. *
A few months later in the Spring of 2016, Cody Shearer was disseminating his own document entitled “The Compromised Candidate,” which was a loose cannon of various journalists and media personalities explaining how they’ve heard the same Fusion GPS-inspired rumors, Shearer quotes a conversation with Brian Ross from ABC News who said that he too also heard Trump was “compromised sexually in Moscow”.* As detailed extensively elsewhere, Brian Ross was shown to be surgically affixed to Glenn Simpson’s hip from 2015 until the end of his career in 2018.
Thus, by Spring of the Election season it was Glenn Simpson who had already implanted the sexual kompromat story to incubate inside media’s dark womb before Steele was ever in Fusion’s employ. Simpson’s chief correspondent Brian Ross even came to understand additional details about the young tale, for instance that the kompromat “occurred right before the beauty contest he [Trump] was hosting.” *
The “beauty contest” was in reference to Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow to host the Miss Universe pageant. This is where the sexual kompromat story is supposed to have transpired. By public record, the trip was conceived, setup, and financed to the tune of $20M by one Emin Agalarov.* The Emin trip in 2013 is the only time Trump has been to Moscow recently, and Emin is the one who “arranged recent trips” & “was present” w/Trump during his trip there. These specific facts happen to coincide exactly with the description of Source D in Christopher Steele’s initial Dossier written June 20th shortly after his hiring (Dossier 6/20, para 2). Moreover, by September in subsequent memos, Steele writes of additional Russian sources that are pointing to Sr. Agalarov by name (Dossier 9/14).
Finally, and as if to leave nothing to chance, the former MI6 officer inserts some “very helpful” signals-intelligence intercept evidence directly tying the younger Emin Agalarov to the scheme directly as Source D, by quoting language straight out of an email sent on his behalf “also in June 2016” (Dossier 6/20, para 2)
FACTS: Sexual kompromat claims are initiated by Glenn Simpson in Fall 2015 and alleged to have transpired in the company of Emin Alagarov during the hosting of 2013 Miss Universe Pageant. Christopher Steele continues this narrative in June through September, where the Dossiers assign Emin Agalarov in both description and name, as Source D for kompromat claims.
WHY LIE? – COLLAPSE OF THE WAVE FUNCTION
After receiving some of the Steele memos in September, the FBI wished to leverage them for the Carter Page FISA application. Needing to corroborate some of the source allegations, they arrange a meeting with Steele in early October. The OIG provides us a generous amount of interview details, illustrating a surprised and semi-hostile witness who is less forthcoming than the FBI would prefer.
Here we see the first evidence of tension between Steele and the FBI. It is likely that the Dossier claims were never meant to sustain serious investigative scrutiny. Rather they were meant only to generate it for publicity sake. Steele’s work product is political propaganda, not real intelligence. And this crucial distinction is illustrated at every step in the contrasting ways that Steele interacts with the press versus the FBI. Steele’s mission was to cast damaging aspersions upon real-world cutouts associated with the Trump Campaign. Unconfirmed innuendo is what drives the narrative, especially in the Media. In contrast, the FBI’s mission is to corroborate facts pursuant to probable cause for their FISA. Steele wants to keep facts amorphous, and the FBI needs them particularized. Their aims are thus fundamentally at odds, and the tension will spark a surprise.
Steele held out on providing the level of detail about his source network that the FBI had hoped to obtain. However, the FBI was adamant, and after pressing for an identity of the source most relevant to the FISA, the FBI was able to force Steele to turn over the identity of a sub-source Sergei Millian (PERSON-1) who Steele said was in direct contact with Steele’s primary source (Primary Sub-source, PSS).
Sergei Millian was “attributed” by Steele in the October meeting to be the author of the most descriptive information in the FISA application of alleged coordination between Page and Russia found in Steele’s Report 95, which tied the information to a “Source E.” However, Millian was also alleged to have provided information contained in Steele’s Report 80 that the Kremlin had been feeding information to Trump’s campaign for an extended period of time which had been “very helpful,” and which we already painstakingly tied to “Source D” Emin Agalarov.
As if aware of inherent contradictions and intent to build a sufficient layer of deniability for his actions, the FBI noted that Steele immediately caveated this information by explaining that Person 1 is a “boaster” and “egotist” and “may engage in some embellishment.”* p.110) This was just the first of several layers of plausible deniability that Steele pre-built into his work product (more on this later re: Primary Sub-Source). This is to allow maximum flexibility to weave politically damaging narratives, jettison problematic ones as they are debunked, and claim zero responsibility for any consequences after the fact.
Setting aside an entire litany of other problems with the “attributions” that Steele made in the October meeting, the question looming since 2018 is why Team Fusion abandoned Emin Agalarov in favor of Sergei Millian as alleged favored Cutout for Dossier claims? Motive is always a difficult question, but we can speculate.
It’s likely that in Steele’s world of probability targets, under the pressure of an FBI interrogator hungry for corroborated and not invented investigative leads, Steele was forced to name what he thought was the weakest link in his lineup. Pressed to “collapse” his amorphous probability-cloud of slander onto a single, particularized source of a human being, like a lightning-bolt searching for an escape through the atmosphere, he chose the path of least resistance, and landed on Millian.
Sergei is an attractive patsy for many reasons: he’s far more mysterious than Emin or various other subjects, and Sergei also doesn’t have a billionaire father with teams of attorneys to fend off baseless accusations from ex MI6 spies. Additionally, Millian was out of country on business in the 2016 October-November timeframe, which Steele argued was evidence of a possible “flee” attempt. We can never be sure why Steele chose to name Millian as PERSON-1, but the fact remains that he did choose to name him, and we will soon see that this choice was disastrous.
The corroborated reliability of Steele and his source network was critical to the legal inclusion of Dossier allegations in the FISA application. Steele had just characterized the principal sub-source Milian as a “boaster” of tales. Worse, Steele would not reveal the identity of his Primary Sub-source to the FBI for further corroboration.
Undaunted, the FBI Leadership “pushed” forward to apply for FISA warrants in October and January without any mention of Steele’s caveats on the “boasting” nor any interview of PERSON-1 Millian or the PSS.
JANUARY – IT ALL FALLS APART
On January 10th, the Dossier is public. Media is in a frenzy trying to verify or disprove factual claims. CNN debunks “Cohen in Prague” within hours. Days later, a staffer from the Trump campaign not only refutes the “sexual orgies” claim, but states that he had put the same rumors to rest as early as Fall 2015 due to “a document made by Fusion GPS that’s been floating around.” * Christopher Steele is revealed as the author of the inflammatory Dossier, and he immediately goes into hiding, according to the BBC.
All of a sudden, at the same exact moment that Steele has vanished from view, the FBI is finally “able to identify and arrange a meeting with the Primary Sub-source” sometime in mid January.*p.186 No details are given regarding how the FBI was able to identify the PSS, nor what took them 3 ½ months. Was the identity deduced from some newly revealed info in the public version of the Dossier? Or was that just a “pretext to interview” as Agent Strzok was recorded asking only days prior?* Did the PSS spontaneously reach out to the FBI on his own accord? Why might he do something like that?
FACTS: the PSS appeared at the time Steele was under peak scrutiny and attack for his crumbling, slanderous work product. It is also a fact that the PSS advanced knowable lies to the FBI in an effort to buttress two of Steele’s core claims. These facts define PSS as a Conspirator with Steele in the pursuit of Obstruction of Justice.
In the Jan interview with FBI, despite the PSS contradicting and even repudiating Steele’s Dossier in numerous fundamental ways, it can be also be demonstrated the PSS was a willing collaborator who attempted to bolster known lies in the Dossier by furnishing his own lies to the FBI as corroboration.
EXAMPLE 1: the PSS told the FBI that one of his sources furnished information about the Rosneft-Carter-Page-bribe allegations through a text message, but a later OIG (not FBI) review of the texts did not find any discussion of a bribe whatsoever.(*p.187) As Discussed in Less Smith’s book, this very specific allegation perfectly satisfied a very specific condition the FBI was required to meet to launch the otherwise grounded FISA: a federal statute being violated in pursuit of allegiance to a foreign Power.
EXAMPLE 2: the PSS tried to buttress Steele’s October identification of the Dossier’s principal subsource, PERSON-1, as Sergei Millian. Although the PSS stated that they never met Millian and that other sub-sources were responsible for the Ritz Carlton reporting,(*p191) which could not be verified, the PSS nevertheless still claimed communications with Millian. Instead of referring to text based communications, places, or dates of potential rendezvous that might later be checked for accuracy, the PSS invented an extremely interesting and utterly improbable tale to explain their purported extraction of data from Millian.
The PSS claimed they “received a telephone call from an individual he/she believed was PERSON-1 [Millian]”.(*p.191) The PSS admitted they could not be certain of the person’s identity because ”the person never identified him/herself during the call.” The PSS said a YouTube video of Millian speaking sounded like the person on the telephone call, and so they went with it.
The Supervisory Intel Analyst conducting the interview admitted to Horowitz that the PSS’s alleged contact with Millian was “peculiar”.(p.192) When asked whether he thought the PSS had been “truthful” the SIA said they believed the PSS may have been “minimizing” certain facts but did not believe he was “completely fabricating”.
It is unknown whether the SIA inquired as to why the PSS would take a 15min unsolicited phone call from someone they didn’t know and who never identified themselves. It is also unknown if the SIA requested any meta-data to corroborate the alleged call, such as date of call, number of the caller, etc.
Despite the SIA’s penchant for believing the best in his interview subjects, Inspector Horowitz undresses the astounding logical errors of SIA’s “assessment” regarding PSS’s claims of Millian:
According to Steele and his reports, Report 80 (dated June 20, 2016), Report 95 (dated July 28, 2016), Report 97 (dated July 30, 2016), and Report 102 (dated August 10, 2016) all contain information from Person 1. If these reports were accurate regarding Person 1 ‘s contributions to the reporting and the Primary Sub-source’s estimate was accurate concerning his/her debrief of Person 1, then all of the information attributed to Person 1 came from a single, 10-to-15-minute, [unsolicited] telephone call between someone PSS believed to be Person 1, but who did not identify him/herself on the call.
THE MEDIA CAMPAIGN
At the same time that PSS is being interviewed by the FBI in London and is completely shattering the credibility of Steele who has gone into hiding, Simpson and Steele are feverishly working other channels to rehabilitate the Dossier’s credibility at the direct expense of Millian. On January 20-21, 2017, the DOJ’s Bruce Ohr received “urgent” messages from Simpson and Steele claiming foreknowledge of a Dossier Source that was about to be exposed in the press. Then, the two men turned around and did what they do best, which was to seed rumor and lie into the media ecosystem. Within 48hs, trusted friends from WSJ and ABC News would come forward to “break” the news of Millian as a reputed Dossier Source. Both stories are clearly sourced to Simpson/Steele.
From Mark Maremont of WSJ on January 23rd, sourcing everything to a single “person familiar with the matter”:
Among the unverified allegations of Mr. Millian’s that an intermediary passed along, the person said: The claim that the Russians had compromising video of Mr. Trump that could be used to blackmail him, and a claim that there was a “conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump camp and Russian leadership that involved hacking the computers of Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponents. Sergei Millian wasn’t a direct source for the 35-page dossier, this person said. Rather, his statements about the Trump-Russia relationship were relayed by at least one third party to the British ex-spy who prepared the dossier, the person said.
Whatever “person” told Maremont this, whichever half of the Simpson-Steele nexus, it is a proven lie. Because at the same moment, the “third party” PSS was already repudiating these very claims to the FBI, even while asserting a phone call from a person who “might have been” Millian.
Not to be out done, the next day on January 24th, Simpson’s right hand man Brian Ross comes with a follow up article echoing most of the WSJ claims. However, Brian Ross sources his claims directly to Team Fusion ( “person familiar with the raw intelligence provided to the FBI”… “the people familiar with the unredacted dossier” ). According to Ross:
While the published dossier never names Millian, a version provided to the FBI included Millian’s name as a source, according to someone who has seen the version given to the FBI.
We now know that this too is also a proven lie. No printed dossier document passed to the FBI ever contained Millian’s name. It was only ever told to them by Christopher Steele in early October of 2016.
But it gets worse. In addition to parroting Fusion lies without question, we know now that in furtherance of Steele’s narrative Brian Ross also made additional statements about Millian that he personally knew to be false at the time.
THE GHOST OF COMPLICATED PAST
Back in the Spring of 2016, Brian Ross was quoted in the “Compromised Candidate” saying that if there were a “talking head source” who could corroborate the rumors regarding Trump’s sexual activities, he “would fly to Moscow to tape and air for broadcast” an interview with the source. As luck would have it, Ross’ buddy Glenn Simpson who had generated those very rumors with a “document made by Fusion GPS” in the Fall, would then claim to identify said source after hiring Christopher Steele in June.
According to Glenn Simpson, shortly after reading the initial memo on June 25th, he learned from his employee Steele, “the identity of Source D, the main source for the “golden showers” allegation. It was Sergei Millian.” Simpson then claims he “tipped off” Brian Ross to setup an interview to interrogate Millian as an “investigative target”. This was in the Summer of 2016.
On July 29, 2016 Sergei Millian is dutifully interrogated by Brian Ross on tape for 40 minutes. His answers don’t fit Fusion’s narrative, so none of the video would be deemed worthy of release in the election season. Instead, the “exclusive interview” with the purported “source of the most salacious allegations” that Ross had previously promised to “air for broadcast” was buried until after the Election.
The interview would only to be resurrected with fanfare in January 2017, when its contents were re-packaged and cherry-picked in an effort to buttress Steele’s desperate and crumbling narrative. And re-package Ross did. Not only did he print Fusion Team’s lies without question, Brian Ross also made additional statements about Millian that he personally knew to be false at the time.
For example. In January 2017 Brian Ross published the following:
Asked if he ever reported back to Russian officials about his work in the U.S., he said only “if I meet top people in the Russian government– they invite me let’s say to Kremlin for the reception, so of course I have a chance to talk to some presidential advisors and some of the top people.”
This statement is an absolute, provable, deliberate lie by Brian Ross and the ABC News investigative team. As a matter of public record, Milian gave a much more fulsome and defiant response than what was reported by Ross as the “only” comments made. In July 2016 while interrogating Millian at Simpson’s behest, this is what actually was exchanged:
ROSS: Are you involved in any way with Russian intelligence agencies?
MILLIAN: Absolutely no.
ROSS: You’ve heard that, right?
MILLIAN: Of course.
ROSS: What do you say?
MILLIAN: So I’m not involved.
ROSS: Not involved? Do you ever report back to them?
MILLIAN: Absolutely no.
ROSS: Do they ever ask you questions or?
ROSS: But you have friends inside the government, don’t you?
MILLIAN: Of course.
ROSS: Do they ever ask you what’s going on in American politics?
MILLIAN: Yes. Because usually, if I meet top people in the Russian Government– they invite me let’s say to Kremlin for the reception– so of course I have a chance to talk to some presidential advisors and some of the top people. But…
ROSS: But you’re saying you’re not a Russian spy.
MILLIAN: Of course not.
Brian Ross leads the story with the following gripping paragraph. Notice he avoids accusing Sergei of being a “Russian government translator” directly, but attributes it to his source:
The source of the most salacious allegations in the uncorroborated dossier about President Trump and the Russians is a one-time Russian government translator, according to a person familiar with the raw intelligence provided to the FBI.
This is despite the fact that in the July interview Brian Ross had already gone over these very accustions with Milian and he denied them unequivocally and repeatedly:
ROSS: Because you worked for the Russian military, right, and the foreign ministry? And then you came here and change your name?
MILLIAN: I didn’t work for the Russian military ever.
ROSS: You were a translator for them?
ROSS: You were not?
ROSS: You were a translator for the foreing ministry?
MILLIAN: I was translating for export agencies in Belarus, not in Russia.
ROSS: I see….
Sergei Millian would go on to make dozens of other statements in Ross’ interview which are all exculpatory with respect to allegations of him being a “Source” in Steele’s infamous memos. We will recount just a few of the statements that ABC News felt free to keep hidden from the context of their “news” article.
ROSS: And has Mr. Trump raised money from Russian businessmen for his campaign?
MILLIAN: I doubt so. I’m not familiar with this fact.
ROSS: And with your insider information, do you have any information as to whether the Russian government hacked into the Democratic Party computers?
MILLIAN: I’ve been asked this question a few times. And what I can tell you right now is that, for example, if the Russian government or let’s say, some people Putin ordered to get into the computers… But he– another question, let– okay, he wants to support Donald Trump. That’s fine. But if he wanted to support Donald Trump, he would share those emails that got deleted. That would be real support. So right now, it looks like Putin if he ever did that, which I doubt, he is supporting Hillary.
ROSS: Do you think the Russians might have done that?
MILLIAN: How? I don’t know how to know. Even if Barack Obama doesn’t know, how can Sergei Millian know?
Even though Brian Ross made oblique reference to his July 2016 interview in the January 2017 article about Sergei Millian being Steele’s alleged “Source”, ABC News would not release a transcript until August 2018, after Brian Ross was no longer employed at ABC.
In an article by Matthew Mosk on August 28, 2018 the transcript is first disclosed. In the report, Mosk makes a ridiculously dishonest attempt to distance ABC News from the trainwreck, asserting that Millian was identified as a Dossier Source by WaPo in March 2017, versus January 2017, when Mosk’s own name was on the byline with Brian Ross:
In March of 2017, Millian was identified in a Washington Post report as an unwitting source of one of the key allegations contained in the infamous dossier… According to the Post, later corroborated by sources interviewed by ABC News, Millian was the person identified only as “Source D,” who spoke of Trump’s alleged hiring of Russian prostitutes…
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
While at all times under the employing hand of the Hillary for America Campaign, Christopher Steele amplified a rumor initially seeded by Glenn Simpson. When Steele made the specific lie of attributing it to Sergei Millian in early October of 2016, it committed him to a criminal path that would soon sweep up the Primary Sub-source, Brian Ross, Glenn Simpson, and arguably other members of the ABC News investigative team.
There still is a real question remaining in regard to motive with respect to Steele in October when he lied to the FBI. Why did he choose to pin this on a specific person, versus simply deferring to his Primary Sub-source?
Moreover, why did the Primary Sub-source, after contradicting and even repudiating Christopher Steele in so many fundamental ways, make an attempt to bolster the claims regarding Millian (and the Sechin-Page bribe)? Why, and why attempt to lie in such a pathetic way? Sergei has repudiated even the notion of any 15 minute phone call with anyone that could have been confused for the alleged tales attributed to him.
Why did the FBI attorney who interviewed Primary Sub-source or Horowitz not inquire into the Meta-data associated with the purported, unsolicited phone call?
The specific confluence of contradictions and mistakes, spanning 3-4 people, all targeting the same innocent individual, speaks to a conspiracy to frame Millian for Steele’s lies to the FBI in October. Brian Ross in particular can be shown to have advanced specific lies to which he has direct and moral responsibility to recount. Christopher Steele, the Primary Sub-source, and Glen Simpson face more serious culpability for 1001 charges or Obstruction of Justice.
Lastly, just as with a Carter Page, it can be said that Sergei Millian is owed an apology of sorts. It is a fact that he was lied about, and it is clear the Motives were most impure, if not illegal.