Former State Department official emerges at center of dossier drama

By Chuck Ross

One of the newest names to emerge in the dossier saga is Jonathan Winer, a former State Department official who met with dossier author Christopher Steele prior to the 2016 election.

Investigators on the Senate Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees have turned their interest to Winer and the State Department’s handling of information from Steele.

It was recently reported that Winer, the former special envoy to Libya, wrote a two-page memo based on information provided by Steele, an ex-MI6 agent who investigated President Donald Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.

Winer’s memo was shared with then-Sec. of State John Kerry, though The Washington Post reported last week that the State Department did nothing with Steele’s information.

But Winer, who left the State Department last year, has emerged in another role in the Russia saga.

He has provided quotes for news stories about the Russia investigation. And last April, he appeared at an event hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Winer’s co-panelists were former Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri and Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Winer did not reveal his links to the dossier until nearly a year after the document was published by BuzzFeed News. He broke his silence in a documentary about the dossier aired by MSNBC in December.

“At some point in Summer 2016, I heard from Mr. Steele that he had this project related to Russia which implicated contacts between Russians and people associated with…candidate Trump’s campaign,” said Winer, who first met Steele in 2009.

Winer did not say in that documentary that he shared Steele’s information with Kerry and others at the State Department.

On Monday, the Judiciary Committee released a memo of its own which stated that Steele received at least two reports from a State Department official. The official is not identified in the report, but it was widely speculated to be Winer.

The memo says that Steele wrote an Oct. 19, 2016 report that was kept separate from his 35-page dossier. The report was based on information that a State Department official received from a foreign sub-source who was “in touch” with an associate of friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The Clinton associates are also not identified, but reports surfaced last week suggesting that they are Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal, two longtime Clinton cronies known for the political dirty tricks.

Blumenthal, a former Bill Clinton White House aide, included Shearer and Winer’s name in the acknowledgements section of his Nov. 2016 biography of Abraham Lincoln.

The Guardian reported that Shearer wrote a memo that Steele provided to the FBI in Oct. 2016.

According to The Guardian, the memo was given to Steele by an American contact. The document reportedly mirrored some of the allegations made in Steele’s dossier, namely the unverified claims about Trump’s activities in a Moscow hotel room in 2013.

Shearer’s involvement has raised red flags for some investigators because of his history of spreading false stories about Clinton political opponents. In 1991, he disseminated claims made by a man who falsely claimed to have sold drugs to then-Vice President Dan Quayle. He was also reportedly investigated by the State Department’s inspector general during the late-1990s for misrepresenting himself as a State Department official during negotiations with associates of a Bosnian war criminal.

Since leaving the State Department last year, Winer has spoken out about the Russia investigation and Trump’s possible collusion with Russia.

A review of press clippings over the past year shows that Winer has provided comment for numerous articles about Trump and the Russia investigation. He is quoted in a New Republic report entitled “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” as well as in several articles published by McClatchy.

And at the April 2017 Center for American Progress event, he spoke at length about possible money laundering activities involving Trump’s real estate company as well as contacts with Russians during the campaign.

Winer, along with his co-panelists, pushed for a more aggressive investigation by the FBI and Congress.

Winer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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