- Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images
- Jared Kushner was copied on emails sent to the Trump campaign last year from Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who was reportedly a key source in the explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia.
- Millian told associates last year that he was in regular touch with George Papadopoulos – a campaign foreign policy adviser who lied to the FBI about the extent and nature of his contacts with Kremlin-linked foreign nationals.
- Millian’s relationship with Papadopoulos, who was told in April 2016 that the Kremlin had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, raises questions about what they discussed during the election and what they relayed to campaign officials.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was copied on emails sent to the Trump campaign last year from Sergei Millian, the Belarus-born businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization and was reportedly a key source in the explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia.
Senate Judiciary Committee leaders said on Thursday that Trump campaign officials had handed over “communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner,” that Kushner had apparently failed to disclose voluntarily. Kushner also received an email that discussed a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” from Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of Russia’s central bank, according to NBC.
Jared Kushner’s lawyer told the committee that the “communications” with Millian were between Millian and Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which Cohen was urging Millian to stop speaking to the press.
A Washington Post profile from March noted an additional point of contact: Millian told associates last year that he was in regular touch with George Papadopoulos – a campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty late last month to making false statements to the FBI about the extent and nature of his contacts with Kremlin-linked foreign nationals.
Papadopoulos tried to connect another Trump aide, Boris Epshtyn, with Millian in September 2016, according to the Post. Epshtyn said the meeting never happened.
Millian, who is now a US citizen, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and has described himself as an exclusive broker for the Trump Organization with respect to the company’s potential real-estate dealings in Russia.
He attended several black-tie events at Trump’s inauguration, and told the Russian news agency RIA that he had been in touch with the Trump Organization as late as April 2016. He was also photographed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a longtime business associate of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
It was around that time that Millian’s organization, the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, was looking for “delegates” to attend the Russian Oil & Gas Forum in Moscow.
But Millian appears to have begun downplaying his ties to the Trump Organization after Western reporters started digging into Trump’s Russia ties last summer.
Contrary to what he told RIA, Millian told Business Insider in an email earlier this year that the last time he worked on a Trump-brand project was “in Florida around 2008.” He did not respond to a request to clarify the discrepancy.
Millian and the dossier
Millian is also believed to be a key source in a collection of unverified memos known as the Steele dossier – named after its author, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The memos outline Trump and his campaign members’ ties to Russian officials and allege Moscow and the Trump campaign worked hand in hand at points to influence the US election.
ABC reported in January that “while the published [Trump-Russia] dossier never names Millian, a version provided to the FBI included Millian’s name as a source.” The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported later that Millian was either source “D” or “E” in the dossier, which Millian has denied.
Source D, according to the dossier, had been “present” for Trump’s alleged “perverted conduct in Moscow.”
Millian has worked with Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government organization whose “fundamental” goal is to familiarize “young people from different countries” with Russian culture through exchange trips to Moscow. The FBI has investigated whether Rossotrudnichestvo is a front for the Russian government to cultivate “young, up-and-coming Americans as Russian intelligence assets” – a theory Rossotrudnichestvo has strongly denied.
In January, however, Millian told Mother Jones he “never got any business with Rossotrudnichestvo.” He did not respond to requests from Business Insider to clarify that discrepancy.
Source E, meanwhile,” acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform,” according to the dossier.
Source E also claimed that the Trump campaign and Russia had moles in the Democratic Party; that US-based “cyber operators” were coordinating attacks on the DNC and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta; and that these operators were being paid covertly via Russian “diplomatic staff” in “key” US cities via that Russia’s emigre pension system.
“I am one of those very few people who have insider knowledge of Kremlin politics who has the ability to understand the Russian mentality and who has been able to successfully integrate in American society,” Millian told ABC in July 2016.
The same source is quoted in the dossier as saying the Trump campaign was “relatively relaxed” about the attention on Trump’s reported ties to Russia “because it deflected media and the Democrats’ attention away from Trump’s business dealings in China.”
Millian has worked as the “vice president of the World Chinese Merchants Union Association” since 2015, according to his LinkedIn page. He wrote last April that he traveled to Beijing to meet with a Chinese official and the Russian ambassador to the Republic of San Marino.
Millian’s relationship with Papadopoulos raises questions
Millian’s relationship with Papadopoulos, moreover – who was told in April 2016 that the Kremlin had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” – raises questions about what they discussed during the election and what they relayed to campaign officials.
According to documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and unsealed late last month, Papadopoulos met with a “professor” in London “on or about April 26, 2016” who told him that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
“During this meeting, the Professor told defendant that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian government officials,” one document says.
“The professor told defendant that on that trip he (the professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The professor told defendant Papadopoulos, as Papadopoulos later described to the FBI, that ‘they [the Russians] have dirt on her’; ‘the Russians had emails on Clinton’; ‘they have thousands of emails.'”
The document suggests Papadopoulos had known that Russia was actively trying to undermine Clinton before virtually anyone else, and it matches some of what the dossier’s “source E” – believed to be Millian – told an associate who then relayed it to Christopher Steele.
Still, it remains unclear whether Papadopoulos told anyone on the campaign, or connected to it, about what he had learned. The day after his meeting with the professor, Papadopoulos emailed one of the campaign’s top policy advisers, Stephen Miller, saying he had “some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”