Explained: The Connections That Led To False Claims Of Trump Having Ties To A Russian Bank
The infamous “Steele Dossier” came to define a significant part of the 2016 presidential election, as well preoccupy the minds of many political pundits for many years afterwards.
However, the credibility of the Dossier continues to be undermined as more and more information comes out. The latest development is that author Christopher Steele had been provided the false tip that a Russian bank, named Alfa Bank, had secret communications with the Trump organization by two lawyers on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton payrolls.
Who Exactly Is Christopher Steele?
Steele is the author of the “Steele Dossier” that alleged collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. He also spent over 20 years as a British MI6 intelligence officer, much of that time was spent with Russian investigations and he was considered by some to be an “expert on the country.”
His credibility was at, one point, accepted by many top United States politicians, for example, Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse once said “to impeach Steele’s dossier is to impeach Mueller’s investigation,” according to the New Yorker. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Dossier Author Christopher Steele Had Previously Undisclosed Meetings With Lawyers For DNC, Clinton Campaign)
Other Key Figures To Know
Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann was the contact who provided Christopher Steele with the “now-debunked tip” about alleged secret communications between Trump and the Russian Bank, Alfa.
Mark Elias, a Clinton campaign lawyer, and the man who hired the opposition research firm Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, also had a meeting with Steele according to court documents obtained by the Daily Caller.
What Actually Happened
As previously stated, the idea that the Trump campaign had financial ties to Russia through the Alfa bank organization originated following Steele’s meeting with Sussmann, who told Steele that there was “suspicious network chatter” between the two organizations. Steele would later confirm that Sussmann was the first person to bring up this alleged connection.
He also said that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson would tell him to write a report on Alpha Bank.
Steele then claimed he directed a source, a “top level Russian government official,” to collect information. This source allegedly told Steele that the founders of Alfa Bank and Vladimir Putin were on “very good terms” with each other, while holding each other in check through mutual blackmail.
Michael Sussmann also shared this information with the press and Slate ended up running a story which alleged that the supposed network chatter between the two groups was being used as a communications channel. (RELATED: House Strikes Deal On Surveillance Bill, Addressing Some Problems From Carter Page FISA Report)
Sussmann also contacted a man named James Baker, who at the time was serving as general counsel for the FBI. This exchange of information then led the FBI to “almost immediately” begin “drafting an application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Carter Page.”
Alfa Bank has since hired a cyber firm to examine the allegations of “suspicious chatter” and determined that the records were created by “threat actors” who wanted “to make it appear as though a connection existed” according to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Chuck Ross.
The IG report also helped to put this connection to bed in a more credible fashion. It stated that the FBI had investigated “cyber links” between Alfa Bank and the Trump organization and concluded that there were “no such links.” Furthermore, the FBI and U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian disinformation may have been given to Steele by Russian operatives.
The supposed connections between the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank helped play into the allegations that there were improper connections between Trump and Russia and appeared to help kick off the multi-year investigation by the special counsel into this matter.