The story behind the source of the salacious Donald Trump dossier is going to make for an incredible spy movie someday. The only terrifying part of this story is that we don’t know the ending — yet. What we do know is that Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence agent who compiled the dossier, hasn’t been seen since he asked his neighbor to watch his three cats. The FBI believes Steele got the details from Sergei Millian, a Russian-American businessman.
Millian has a peculiar history with Trump. The former head of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, who once listed the Trump Organization as a sponsor, says he was in Moscow at the same time as Trump in 2013. Millian has been on the FBI’s radar since 2011 after he attended, and possibly organized, an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow for 50 U.S. businessmen. ABC News reports he was also a one-time Russian government translator.
“He is the man, the people familiar with the un-redacted dossier tell ABC News, who may have unwittingly described Trump’s alleged tryst, during a conversation with someone who was secretly reporting to Christopher Steele.”
The dossier’s unsubstantiated details have been widely refuted by major news outlets and the Trump administration. But the Financial Times published an investigative piece in November 2016 looking closely at Millian’s connections to the Trump Organization.
Long before Trump was a candidate for president, Millian claimed to have helped organize Trump’s appearance at the 2007 Millionaire’s Fair in Moscow. Millian also says he later helped the Trump Organization score million-dollar deals with Russian businessmen. Trump reportedly flew him to Miami to meet with Michael Cohen, the Trump Organization’s chief legal counsel, who granted him permission to market Trump’s U.S. properties in Russia.
“You could say I was their exclusive broker,” Millian said in April 2016. “Then, in 2007-2008, dozens of Russians bought apartments in Trump properties in the U.S.”
As the 2016 election was coming to an end, Millian started to downplay his relationship with Trump that he once boasted about on social media.
“In emailed responses to questions from the Financial Times, Millian described himself as one of several brokers who worked on Trump’s real estate projects. ‘I never represented Mr. Trump personally and I am not working with Mr. Trump,’ he said. ‘I have never been paid by Mr. Trump for any work.’ He added that he had never consulted Trump on any political topic.”
So what changed in between April and November? He was Trump’s exclusive broker, but then all of a sudden he never earned a nickel from the Trump Organization? Maybe it had something to do with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail repeatedly calling Trump’s ties to Russia into question. Clinton also called Trump Vladimir Putin’s puppet on the debate stage in October.
Cohen was asked about Millian’s prior work with the Trump Organization, saying the claims are a weak attempt to align himself with the successful Trump brand.
“Cohen did not respond to questions about whether he interacted with Millian or why Millian is one of only 100 people he follows on Twitter.”
The FBI has been looking into the possibility that Millian has been a Russian spy since 2011 after he offered to organize more trips to Moscow for the U.S. businessmen. The FBI started asking participants if the Russian government was recruiting spies during the trips.
God bless Donald Trump! God bless USA!
— Sergei Millian (@SergeiMillian) November 10, 2016
According to Paul Joyal, managing director of National Strategies, all signs point to the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, where Millian used to work, being a Russian front organization.
“Front organizations have been a platform for spotting and assessing potential intelligence recruitment and collection targets,” Joyal said. “They commonly used sponsored trips as a means of making contact and sometimes developing or compromising intelligence targets of interests.”
The fact that Millian, who was reportedly the source of the dossier details, was in Moscow at the same time as Trump in 2013 is an interesting development in this wild story. How Steele got a hold of this intel, and where he is now, isn’t the biggest question left unanswered. It’s whether or not the details in the dossier are true, and until the video proof comes out, we may never know the truth.
[Featured Image by Pool/Getty Images]