Former Donald Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller gave sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, and in that testimony important details about the night that an alleged “pee tape” was supposedly filmed were changed from a version of that night’s events spelled out by a Trump adviser in January, according to accounts of Schiller’s testimony published by NBC News as well as by CNN.com.
Schiller’s lawyer said he and his client were “appalled” by the leaks, but Stuart Sears did not dispute specific points mentioned in the reports of Schiller’s testimony, simply terming the media reports “false and misleading.”
“We are appalled by the leaks that are coming from partisan insiders from the House Intelligence Committee. It is outrageous that the very Committee that is conducting an investigation into leaks — purportedly in the public interest — is itself leaking information and defaming cooperative witnesses like Mr. Schiller. The Chairman and Ranking Member should investigate and hold accountable whoever is responsible for leaking false and misleading versions of Mr. Schiller’s testimony. This conduct is indefensible and calls into question the credibility and motives of the Committee’s investigation.”
The “pee tape” story, as it has come to be popularly known, originated in the “Steele Dossier,” a controversial private intelligence document compiled by former high-ranking British spy and Russia expert Christopher Steele, and funded initially by the conservative online site Washington Free Beacon which hired the firm that produced the dossier — funding that was later supplemented by the Democratic National Committee and Hilary Clinton campaign.
The dossier details alleged financial and personal ties between Trump and Russia. The dossier, which may be accessed in full by clicking on this link, also claims that the Russian government “has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him.”
While the “pee tape” story itself has not been independently confirmed, other allegations in the dossier have been corroborated and one former CIA intelligence officer, John Sipher, has called Steele “serious and credible,” also saying that many CIA experts have taken the dossier “seriously” since it “was first published.”
Trump’s “activities” included alleged “perverted sexual acts” that were set up by Russian intelligence agents, who kept Trump under surveillance the whole time, according to Steele’s findings. The “pee tape,” if it exists, would be a recording of prostitutes allegedly hired by Trump urinating on a hotel bed as he watched and enjoyed the show.
Connected to the “pee tape” story, however, is another allegation that first appeared in an article published by the Daily Caller news site on January 14 of this year claiming that a Russian business associate of Trump sent five prostitutes to his hotel room in Moscow during Trump’s visit there in November of 2013, at the same time the “pee tape” incident is alleged to have occurred.
Trump was in Moscow not only as the owner of the Miss Universe beauty pageant in November of 2013 but to meet with his newest business partners, Aras Agalarov and son Emin Agaralov; billionaire Russian real estate developers sometimes known as the “Trumps of Russia” who have close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In January, The Daily Caller reported that Emin Agaralov, after a business meeting with Trump that was attended by Schiller, told Schiller that he planned to hire five prostitutes who would be sent to Trump’s hotel room. According to the Daily Caller report, Schiller turned the offer down on Trump’s behalf but positioned “people outside of Trump’s hotel room to make sure nothing happened.”
According to a report by BBC investigative reporter Paul Wood, witnesses claimed that prostitutes were indeed sent to the hotel, and there was an argument with security personnel there over whether they would be allowed up to Trump’s room.
When Schiller testified on Tuesday, however, he told a different version of the “five prostitutes” story, according to a CNN account of his closed-door testimony published on Friday.
In the recent news reports, it has been claimed Schiller rejected the offer of the five prostitutes and that he could not remember the identity of the Russian businessman who made the offer. Schiller also allegedly testified that rather than positioning multiple guards outside Trump’s door, he simply stood there himself for a short time, then retired to bed in his own room.
Schiller denied that the offer of prostitutes came from the younger Agaralov, and according to the CNN report, a lawyer for the Agaralovs claimed that Emin Agaralov “has no knowledge of that ever happening.”
Why did Schiller reportedly tell a different version of the story than the account from a “Trump adviser” published in January?
One possible explanation, Russia scandal expert Seth Abramson has noted, is that Schiller’s version of the story removes blame from Trump’s business partners, the Agaralovs, who are close Putin allies. The new version also takes Schiller himself out of the picture, because he now claims that he simply does not know what happened in Trump’s room after he retired to his own room for the night.
By his alleged testimony that no one — rather than multiple guards — stood outside Trump’s door to stop any trouble, Schiller also discourages the House committee from seeking additional witnesses from that night, Abramson noted.
But according to the Steele dossier, the “pee tape” is not the only example of blackmail material, or kompromat, held by the Russians on Trump. The dossier alleges that Trump had also visited St. Petersburg and “participated in sex parties in the city too, but that all direct witnesses to this recently had been ‘silenced,’ i.e. bribed or coerced to disappear.”
If or when Trump made trips to St. Petersburg, Russia, remains unclear. In 2002, Trump fired Miss Universe pageant winner Oksana Federova; rumored in Russian media at the time to be Putin’s mistress. Federova lived in St. Petersburg and had won a “Miss St. Petersburg” beauty contest there.
Whether or not Schiller was grilled by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday about Trump’s activities in St. Petersburg has not yet been made public, according to a report by the Business Insider news site.
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