Chuck Ross, DCNF
Former British spy Christopher Steele told a British court that he shared his infamous dossier in 2016 with an associate expecting that it would be provided to State Department officials, including Antony Blinken, who is considered a top contender for secretary of state in a Joe Biden administration.
According to a judge’s decision handed down last week in a dossier-related lawsuit, Steele told the court that he provided a copy of the dossier in early November 2016 to Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state who then served as the president of the Brookings Institution.
Steele also said he expected Talbott to meet with Blinken regarding the national security implications in the dossier.
Blinken served at the time as deputy secretary of state, the number two position at Foggy Bottom. Before that, he served as deputy national security adviser to President Obama and as national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden.
According to Axios, Blinken is considered a top contender to serve as secretary of state to Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
It is unclear if Blinken ever met with Talbott or learned of the dossier. Neither of the former State Department officials responded to a request for comment.
But Blinken’s possible link to the dossier highlights the State Department’s deep connections to Steele and his salacious report. Steele’s work has come under scrutiny as the special counsel’s investigation and the Justice Department’s inspector general have all but debunked the dossier’s core allegation of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A British judge last week ordered Steele to pay damages to two Russian bankers who he accused in the dossier of having illicit ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The judge ruled that Steele’s allegations were “inaccurate or misleading.”
Multiple State Department officials were aware of Steele’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, approved a July 5, 2016, meeting in which Steele first shared his findings with the FBI.
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry was reportedly told about Steele’s investigation. Steele shared his report with State Department official, Jonathan Winer, a longtime aide to Kerry. Winer set up a meeting for Steele on Oct. 11, 2016, with Kathleen Kavalec, who served as deputy to Nuland.
Winer also served as a conduit between Steele and Fusion GPS and journalists. He served as a background source for the two most prominent reports published regarding Steele’s allegations prior to the 2016 election.
Steele acknowledged in court filings in that case in August 2018 that he provided materials to Talbott, a longtime friend of the Clintons.
Talbott served as president of the Brookings Institution, the influential left-leaning foreign policy think tank, through 2017.
Fiona Hill, the top Russia expert in the Trump White House, told Congress last year that Talbott provided her a copy of Steele’s dossier a day before BuzzFeed published it on Jan. 10, 2017.
Hill said she was floored by the report and thought that Steele had fallen victim to a Russian disinformation campaign.
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