Did the Russians interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections? And, if so, on which side? Though I am a Middle East and Islam expert, I followed the Russia Gate scandal as it unfolded during the run-up to the 2016 elections, and for several months afterwards. At the time I was subscribing to a Magazine called EYE SPY which is printed in London. The writers, correspondents, and editors of this magazine are closely linked to Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6. In fact, it appears that the magazine’s editing and subscription offices might well be located within an MI6 office. Yet, the magazine is sold as open source material on newsstands around the English speaking world.
In this essay, I will provide readers with the basics of the Russia Gate scandal as uncovered by this EYE SPY magazine, then I will provide some conflicting stories derived from other media. At the end I will try to analyze this mess.
RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
First, I should brief readers about the various Russian Intelligence services to help keep the players straight.
In the old days, the Soviet Union had only two intelligence agencies (that I know of), one was the GRU, which was the Soviet Military Intelligence arm. That agency still exists today as the Military Intelligence agency of the Russian Federation–and it is still called the GRU.
The other old Soviet intelligence agency was the infamous KGB. Just say “KGB” to anyone and it conjures up nothing but negative images of super spies running around the world trying to kill James Bond, or secret police breaking down the door of a suspected dissident at three in the morning. But the KGB was much more than that. Picture the NSA, DHS, FBI, and CIA all rolled into one agency. That was the KGB.
When the Soviet Union broke up in 1989-1990, the KGB was disbanded. Many of its former agents became Russian mafia figures. Others were eventually recycled into two new Russian Federation intelligence agencies. By far the smallest one is the SVR. It is the SVR that does all the James Bond stuff these days. It is they who run spies in foreign countries, it is they who recruit citizens of target countries and pays them for services rendered and/or for information of intelligence value called “humint.”
The much larger agency, and the one we will be concerned with for this article is known as the Federal Security Bureau, or FSB. To understand what the FSB is think of having the NSA, FBI, DHS, and the analytical wing of the CIA all rolled into one agency.
It is primarily the FSB that we will be concerned with in this essay, though the GRU may have played a small role to be noted towards the end.
The author of the infamous “Trump Dossier,” sometimes called the “Steele Dossier,” which is at the foundation of the entire Russia Gate hoax was one Christopher Steele. Steele was a former Russia expert/agent for Britain’s MI6, and as such had spent a lot of time in Moscow and had a lot of contacts there. From 2006 to 2009 he ran the Russia desk in MI6’s London HQs. Upon retiring in 2009 he started his own company “Orbis” a “business intelligence company.” Whether or not he remained in contact with MI6 is open to question.
THE CLINTON / DNC ROLE
Fox news reported endlessly that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC “paid 12 million dollars for the Steele Dossier.” That statement is highly misleading and only partly true. It totally ignores, and deflects attention from, the 20-ton elephant in the room.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC paid 12 million dollars to an American company called Fusion GPS for the purpose of digging up dirt on then candidate Donald Trump. It was Fusion GPS that then hired Steele. In so doing GPS would have obviously kept much of that 12 million for themselves. Neither the Clinton campaign, nor the DNC directly hired Steele.
There has never been any announcement, or evidence presented, as to how much of the 12 million GPS kept for itself, and how much it paid Steele to further the “opposition research project.” Steele then had to also pay an unknown amount to unknown Russians for the materials that went into the Dossier. Again, we do not know how much of that Steele kept for himself and how much he paid to unknown Russians.
One thing we do know, though, is that what ever percentage of that original 12 million the Clinton’s paid to Fusion GPS ended up in Russian hands . . . it was only a tiny fraction of the sums of the American money that went into the production of the Steele Dossier and its perpetuation as a key piece of “evidence” for the “deep state” to use against Trump. In actual fact, though, no one has ever presented a shred of evidence that even a dime of the DNC/Clinton/GPS money ever made it to the hands or pockets of a single Russian.
There were, however, other bank rollers. You and I, for example, as taxpayers actually paid by far the greater lion’s share of the sums for the Russian information that went into the Steele Dossier.
So, hang on for a wild ride through the real swamp.
THE EYE SPY ACCOUNT
We will start with Igor Sechin, the head of Russia’s huge oil company Rosneft, and a close friend and advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Igor Sechin’s name is mentioned several times in the Steele Dossier, but Steele never fingers Sechin as his primary source, nor does Steele ever give away who his primary source was–hinting that there was a middle man.
Britain’s EYE SPY magazine (April 2017 issue, p. 20), and other media, claim that the “middle man” was none other than Sechin’s chief of staff, one Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB general.
According to the same issue of EYE SPY Erovinkin got his data (audio-visual materials, and “hacked” texts) from a pair of Russia’s top Cyber Geeks. And, these are:
Dmitry Dokuchayev, a Major in Russia’s FSB cyber security division.
And, Sergei Mikhailov, a Colonel in Russia’s FSB cyber security division.
Dokuchayev was originally a civilian hacker involved in criminal hacking under the name of “Forb,” and upon his arrest by the FSB was given a choice of prison, or a comfy job in Moscow working for the FSB cyber security division.
Note that all intelligence agencies in the world, including our own, hire civilian hackers, criminal or not, out of need. A sort of World War III is being fought 24/7 in cyber space, so he who has the best geeks and hackers wins. If you fail to keep pace you lose.
When Dokuchayev was arrested in January of 2017, the FSB authorities found wads of paper money stashed here and there in his residence. According to EYE SPY the total sum was equal to 10 million British pounds. That would be $14.1 million dollars U.S. It was not made clear whether the paper notes were in British pounds or U.S. dollars, but the FSB swore that the money came from the CIA.
It has never been made clear whether all that money was for Dokuchayev himself, or whether he was supposed to share it with his FSB boss, Col. Mikhailov, and/or the alleged “middle man” Oleg Erovinkin–or did each of these men also receive comparable amounts? We could potentially be talking about multiple tens of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
There is also the issue of multiple FBI payments to Christopher Steele. Fox news has mentioned six known payments by the FBI, but there might be more because the FBI continued to pay, and use, Steele after they had publically claimed to have stopped contacts with him.
EYE SPY magazine reported in an issue prior to April 2017, that Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, gave the green light to James Comey for the FBI to contact Steele. The Washington Times has also run a couple of stories (which can be googled) confirming that account.
The portions of the Steele dossier that Dokuchayev and Mikhailov allegedly turned over to the “middle man” for delivery to Steele allegedly included at least one incriminating video and two audio tapes of Trump involved in illicit sex acts (including a “golden showers party”) with prostitutes in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. The materials compiled by the two FSB geeks also allegedly included some “hacked” texts of an unknown nature.
The time line of this entire “dossier” affair is very interesting:
–Sept. 2015, a wealthy Republican “never Trumper” hired fusion GPS, an American investigative firm, to do opposition research on Trump. This research was limited to his entertainment and financial activities.
–June, 2016, Trump officially becomes the GOP nominee and the “never Trumper” withdrew his support for the GPS project, and the Democrats picked up the contract with Fusion GPS. The DNC and the Clinton campaign then provided GPS with the 12 million dollars to expand the research into Trump’s activities in Russia.
–June 2016 Fusion GPS then hired the British intelligence firm Orbis to look into any possible Russian connections with Trump and/or his campaign. Heading the Orbis company, and this particular aspect of the investigation was Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer with experience in Russia.
–June 2016 Steele began delivering his reports in June 2016 and continuing through December 2016.
–Oct. 2016, there was a secret meeting at the U.S. Department of State for “select” individuals (including the above-mentioned Victoria Nuland) to be briefed in person by Christopher Steele regarding his “dossier.”
–Oct. 2016, Steele also turned some material over to the Mother Jones publication in Oct. of 2016, marking the first time this “opposition research” was leaked to the public.
–Oct. 2016, the FBI allegedly began to make its series of payments to Steele to continue his work.
–Oct. 2016, with portions of the “Steele dossier” already leaked to Mother Jones, then Director of the CIA John Brennan gave then DNI James Clapper the green light to leak it to CNN.
–26 December 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, the alleged “middle man” between the FSB cyber geeks and Steele was found by the FSB . . . surprise, surprise! . . . slumped over in the back seat of his car! He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. No cause of death was ever announced either by the hospital, or by the morgue where his autopsy was conducted. He was 61 at time of his death.
According to Wikimedia, his employer, Rosneft (remember, headed by Putin insider Igor Sechin) claimed he died of a heart attack. But, of course, according to EYE SPY everyone in Russia suspects foul play. “Sources” have confirmed that there were no obvious injuries to his body, which has fueled the speculations of “foul play.”
–According to Wikimedia, Steele, when questioned about the Erovinkin affair, denied that Erovinkin was the “middle man,” saying he never had anything to do with Erovenkin. Steele added that “sometimes people just die.” (My response to that is: Yes, they certainly do–especially if what they do, or know, might be uncomfortable for the Clintons.)
–According to Wikimedia there were rumors alleging that part of the info that Erovinkin passed to Steele was an unspecified lucrative offer from Rosneft to Trump.
–Jan., 2017 the FSB arrests Dokachayev and Mikhailov, according to EYE SPY. The charges against them was violating their oaths of office, treason, and working with the American CIA.
–Finally, EYE SPY quoted a former CIA officer Stephen Hall as saying that the arrests of Dokuchayev and Mikhailov “may be the tipping point concerning Russian hacking.” Moscow sources, however, are satisfied the arrests were made in connection with hacking commentary which appeared in Christopher Steele’s Trump dossier.
–According to EYE SPY Putin was furious about the two FSB agents getting involved with the CIA.
OTHER SOURCES and ANALYSIS
If you Google Dokuchayev and/or Mikhailov you will find several articles on them which are more recent than the EYE SPY material.
As it turns out, the trials for these two gentlemen were held behind closed doors so there are no solid accounts as to what they were actually convicted of. Most of the accounts on the internet have the charges against them being connected with their cooperation with the FBI regarding the investigation into Russian hacking into the 2016 election, with no mention of the Steele dossier, or CIA involvement.
My personal view is that the EYE SPY account is likely the most accurate because it occurred closer to the time of the actual crimes and arrests, and because of the magazine’s close relationship with MI6, and “intelligence-related Russian sources.”
Also, the media sources presented by Google would have had a built in bias to assume that these two FSB officers had cooperated with the FBI on the election hacking story (which would support their narrative of “Russians” trying to put Trump in the WH) rather than having provided material for the Steele dossier (which aimed to hurt Trump and knowledge of which would destroy to media/left narrative).
Supporting this view is the fact that EYE SPY was following the entire Russia Gate very closely with articles on it in each issue–until the April 2017 issue which fingered CIA involvement with the two above-mentioned FSB geeks. After that issue EYE SPY imposed a blackout on any further reporting on the entire Russia Gate issue. This raised my suspicions considerably. MI6 is close to the CIA not only because of the “five eyes,” and “two eyes” connections, but because MI6 has always been loaded with leftwingers, as is the upper floor of the CIA–especially during the Brennan years when this entire Russia Gate occurred. Thus, it appeared to me that MI6 had ordered EYE SPY to halt coverage on the Russia gate issue so as to protect Brennan and gang at the CIA.
Interestingly, it was at this time that Steele was temporarily “disappeared.”
Some of the accounts on the internet have the two FSB cyber geeks arrested in December of 2016 instead of January 2017. According to these accounts, Dokuchayev and Mikhailov were yanked out of a staff meeting with bags over their heads.
During interrogations, it appears that Major Dokuchayev ratted on his boss Col. Mikhailov (and a number of other individuals) in a plea deal. As a result Dokuchayev (whom I believe was the ringleader, and the individual in whose residence actual American-provided paper money was found) received only 6 years, while Mikhailov got 22 years. There were rumors that Mikhailov got $10 million U.S., or was promised that amount, but the evidence for that was never actually produced. Mikhailov reportedly swore to the end that he was innocent.
It is thought that some of the conflicting stories about the roles Dokuchayev and Mikhailov played, and as to whether their crimes had to do with the Steele Dosier or hacking into the 2016 U.S. elections, and/or how the case was even broken, is due to rivalry between the GRU and the FSB, but that is pure rumor and speculation.
Finally, there are reports that a “mystery donor” had donated $50 million U.S. after the 2016 elections to keep the Steele Dossier “going.”
What we hope that the Barr/Durham investigations will include, and fine answers for:
–Who was the above-mentioned “mystery” donor?
–Who, besides Victoria Nuland, attended that Oct. 2016 briefing on the Dossier by Mr. Steele. And, what did Mr. Steele reveal about the contents of the Dossier? And who and where did he get his information from?
–Exactly how much of the Democrats’ 12 million dollars was kept by GPS and how much went to Steele. Then, if Steele actually received any of the Democrats’ money, what did he use it for? How much of it, if any, went to Russian contacts, and who were they?
–CIA expenditures (official and unofficial) during the time frame of June 2016 forward to at least 2018 need to be investigated to check for possible payments to Steele and/or Russian contacts.
–How much did the FBI pay Christopher Steele for the dossier?
–Who killed Oleg Erovinkin? Was it one of the Russian players? Or one of ours?
Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an NSA Arabic translator/analyst, holds two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is the author of Confessions of an (ex)NSA Spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is: www.barrywebbauthor.com He is currently a senior fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform at www.intelreform.org