While most of cable news network shows were focused on the sad meltdown of former Trump campaign staffer Sam Nunberg, Rachel Maddow spent the bulk of her show detailing the incredible reporting of Jane Meyer’s article for The New Yorker, titled “Christopher Steele, the man behind the Trump Dossier.”
In the article, Mayer breaks out several new details about the dossier prepared by Christopher Steele, including the explosive allegation in a second, newly-uncovered Steele memo that Putin personally vetoed Trump’s pick of Mitt Romney for secretary of state. From The New Yorker:
One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney’s run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President.
Did Donald Trump bend to Putin and install Rex Tillerson as a favor? Sounds like Mueller is on the case.
Maddow then hosted Jane Mayer to discuss another revelation from her outstanding article: someone has already reportedly been killed as a result of the Steele dossier. As Mayer reportes a CIA official told her, “fake news doesn’t produce real deaths.” Here is the first segment of this must-watch episode with Mayer, and a full transcript below:
MADDOW: About seven weeks ago Democratic Senator Feinstein surprised everyone when she basically threw up her hands and said what the heck and made an individual decision she would release a transcript of ten hours of senate testimony from GPS Glenn Simpson. That decision led to all sorts of congressional fighting about all sorts of things substantive and otherwise but there was a shock factor that day that the transcript was released. A shock factor from one quick line very late in the day in Simpson’s testimony. It was a line uttered by his lawyer.
Quote, question, talked aboutevaluating the credibility ofthe information in the memorandayou were being provided byMr. Steele and talked about yourbelief he was credible.Did you take any steps to assessthe credibility?Answer by Mr. Simpson.Yes, but I’m not going to getinto sourcing information.Question: So without gettinginto naming the sources oranything like that, what stepsdid you take to verify theircredibility?I’m going to decline to answerthat question.Question, why?Answer, not by Glen Simpson,answer by Simpson’s lawyer,quote, this is a voluntaryinterview and in addition tothat he wants to be careful toprotect his sources.Somebody has been killed already as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.
Emphasis added. Somebody has already been killed as a result of the publication of the dossier.
Somebody has been killed, thatwas nine hours into ten hours oftestimony from August.That was the transcript that wasreleased to the public inJanuary thanks to DianeFeinstein.Here is Jane Mayer tonight at”The new Yorker,” quote, inRussia there were rumors of amore primitive justice takingplace.His lawyer asserted somebody hasbeen killed as a result of thepublication of this dossier.Mayer continues.Who that could be has been thesubject of much mediaspeculation.One possibility that has beenmentioned is OlegErovinkin.A former officer and top aide tothe president of Russian oilgiant Rosneft.On December 26th, 2016 in fact Erovinkin was found dead in hiscar.No official cause of death hasbeen cited by Jane Mayercontinues, no evidence hasemerged that Oleg Erovinkin wasa source for Christopher Steeleand Mueller is believed to beinvestigating a different deaththat is possibly related to thedossier.A different death.Jane Mayer, you’re making mecrazy.Joining us now is Jane Mayerfrom the new Yorker magazine.Jane, congratulations on thisscoop.It is killing me.
MAYER: Thank you so much.Great to be with you.
MADDOW: So I have a few different –there is obviously a lot here, alot of new material and a lot ofstuff nobody else reported and Iwant to ask you about it.Let me start with the reportingabout the memo from Steele afterhis fusion gps contract ended.It was produced in late Novemberafter the election in 2016 andit was based on a Russian sourcesuggesting that the Kremlin hadhad a hand in casting the U.S.Secretary of state for the trumpadministration.What else can you tell us aboutthat reporting and it’scredibility?
MAYER: Well, you know, it’s hard to evaluate. It’s only based on one source. It’s a shorter memo than most of the Steele memos that created the dossier but one of the things, it mean, on its face it seems fantastical that something like this could be true and a foreign power would intervene with an elected president by then, which trump was, and shape the foreign policy of our country but one of the things
that seems suspicious and kind of backs it up to some extent is that the circumstances of what happened with Romney, which was this very long prolonged process of him being interviewed for secretary of state. It seemed to go on and on. It was kind of humiliating. He was sort of dragged through dinners and the limelight and interviews and it was just odd and then in the end of it, trump decided not to pick him and very quickly and as a big surprise turned to Tillerson instead. So I mean, you know, hard to know. I mean, one of the things that I think we’re going to find with much of what’s in the Steele dossier, it’s looking better and better every day, more and more credible but it’s going to take somebody like Mueller with subpoena power to nail down a lot of the things you need to know. Somebody who can take a look at all kinds of other kinds of intelligence and so that’s what it’s probably going to take.
MADDOW: And you do have reporting onsome potential new territory forthe Mueller investigation if infact, as you report, he’slooking at a death that isrelated to the dossier thatisn’t the much discussed aid to Igor session that turned outdead a month after the election.Can you tell us anything furtherabout that?
MAYER: One of the things I thoughtwas really interesting pointthat was made by a former verytop CIA official who Iinterviewed, who is an expert inthe area of Russia, he saidapropos that president trumpsaid this was fake news, he saidfake news doesn’t produce realdeaths.There were real repercussionsfrom this dossier.Quite a few other things thathappened to Steele’s sources,that may have been Steelesources in Russia.
MADDOW: Does that explain some of thestate of mind that describesSteele feeling potentially thathis life may have been in dangeror he needed to take steps toprotect himself?
MAYER: It explains why he’s socareful about not speaking.His lawyers have told him not totalk to the press and he’s hadto be very, very careful abouthis life, his family’s life butalso about his sources.I mean, these are people he’sworked with for many years.This is — they didn’t just comeout of the wood work for thisone task which was to do thisinvestigation of trump.These are people who have workedwith him for all kinds ofassignments on many other cases,as well.And interestingly, they are –his sources and subsources, manywere known to the FBI becauseSteele worked with the FBI overthe years on a number of casesand the FBI had a lot ofconfidence in him and in thesesources, his network.
MADDOW: Jane, if you don’t mindsticking around, there is oneother matter I’m desperate toask you about and something I’vebeen wondering about since theClinton campaign was paying forSteele’s investigation.Why didn’t they use thismaterial during the campaign?You got good reporting.Do you mind sticking with us?
To understand why Hillary Clinton did not use the information in the Steele dossier, see the next segment: