Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Jonathan Winer, Chris Steele, Worked For Oleg Deripaska

I think we pretty much knew that Chris Steele had close ties to Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. That was part of Steele's attraction for the FBI. Today Eric Felten has a pretty comprehensive round up of the ties of key figures associated with Steele's hoax "dossier" to "Putin's favorite industrialist": Top Kerry Aide, Key Conduit for Dossier, Once Worked for Russian Oligarch, as Did Steele.

The main focus of the very detailed article, however, is on Jonathan Winer. Felten works off the SSCI report, but I think we can be absolutely certain that John Durham has also been examining Winer's role in the Russia Hoax. It's a good example of the "sprawl" that Durham has had to contend with--in his position he can't afford to leave stones unturned.

Who is Winer?

Winer was for a decade an aide to Sen. John Kerry. From 1994 to 1999 he was a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of State. From government he went to the international lobby and law firm Alston & Bird. Winer moved to APCO Worldwide in 2008, about the time he met Steele, who had just left British intelligence and was setting up his own shop. Winer told the Senate that in his private sector jobs he “was still engaged in various types of Russian representation all over the map.” Pro-Putin, anti-Putin: Winer didn’t care, he told senators: “It was any work that was consistent with their needs and my values.”

"My values." Gotta luv that! What would those values have been? The almighty dollar is my guess.

Winer returned to the State Department during Obama's second term, rejoining Kerry. Here are some of the highlights of Felten's article, to whet your appetite for the whole thing. Note that both Winer and Glenn Simpson of Fusion - GPS may have perjury problems connected with their Senate testimony:

Jonathan Winer, a former top aide to Secretary of State John Kerry who was a key conduit for disseminating the discredited Steele dossier in the U.S. government, worked as a lobbyist for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in years preceding the Russiagate affair. This revelation raises new questions about Russian efforts to influence American foreign policy -- far afield from any Kremlin efforts to favor Donald Trump.

Winer’s connection to Deripaska came to light through last week’s release of the fifth and final volume of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The Senate report also found that at different times ex-British spy Christopher Steele had worked for the powerful oligarch with ties to President Vladimir Putin, and sent scores of reports from his intelligence firm on to Winer, who admitted to the panel destroying many of them before leaving the State Department. Further, the Senate developed evidence that Glenn Simpson – whose company Fusion GPS contracted with Steele for the dossier – also did work for Deripaska. Simpson denied that, telling senators, “I don’t think I’ve knowingly had any contact with his organization.” 
In his initial interview with the Senate committee, Winer claimed never to have met the oligarch. In a second interview Winer revised this answer. He conceded that, beginning in 2003, Deripaska had hired the law firm Alston & Bird, where Winer was a partner. He worked on the Deripaska account but, asserting attorney-client privilege, refused to say what exactly he had done on Deripaska’s behalf. RealClearInvestigations sent questions to Alston & Bird’s spokesman but received no reply. 
RealClearInvestigations has found that as an employee of the government affairs and public relations firm APCO Worldwide, Winer also worked on behalf of the Russian government’s nuclear agency in 2010 and 2011. Winer also drummed up business for Steele among lobbyists he knew from his work promoting Russia’s nuclear interests. RealClearInvestigations contacted both Winer and APCO; neither responded. 

While at the State Department during President Barack Obama’s second term, Winer disseminated to his colleagues over 100 memos written by Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence. Among them were memos apparently intended to help influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Steele’s Russian client, billionaire Putin loyalist Deripaska. 
The Senate revelations establish that Winer was a key but little-known figure in Russiagate. He, along with former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr – whose wife worked for Fusion GPS – have emerged as prime vehicles for the dissemination of the Steele dossier to the highest reaches of the U.S. government.

It's becoming clear that the State Department connections to the Russia Hoax, while long known, may have been underestimated in their significance. But I doubt that Barr and Durham have overlooked any of this.


  1. The conspiracy is sprawling, yet the same small group of Core actors keeps appearing.

    A name missing, but hinted at, was the Clinton Uranium 1 scandal. Winter lobbied for Russian Nuclear.

    And Libya again, hmm...

    1. Yep. And all enriching themselves along the way.

    2. Libya was just a placeholder way to get him in the State dept.

  2. A small example of the swamp Trump struggles to navigate. If we (normal Americans) want our country back, we need to get Trump re-elected and let him shift into swamp-draining mode.

  3. Buried in the source article:

    >> Once Steele’s “O Reports” had become routine, Winer relied on Nuland’s assistant, Nina Miller, to circulate his friend’s reports. For example, on Feb. 12, 2015, Winer sent an “O Report” to Miller “concerning company said to be secretly owned by Putin, Putin’s Mistress and Friends.” It was sent with these instructions: “Nina please send high side to three usual persons.” The State Department did not respond to questions about the memos. <<

    [emphasis added]

    If you understand the meaning of the IC slang, and the fact that the Orbis memo could not be classified (since Winer transmitted it to Miller via low side, otherwise, the email transmitting it to Miller would not have been obtainable via FOIA) -- it means there is no justification for using "high side" to transmit the memo to the "three usual persons" other than to hide the fact that they are seeing it.

    1. Would be interesting to know who the three are, and why it was deemed important by Winer to hide the fact they were seeing the Steele material.