When news broke earlier this week that the FBI had raided two homes connected to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the corporate media and some of the main figures in the Russia-collusion hoax spun the story as related to Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the propaganda-pushing press left unreported Derispaska’s connections to Christopher Steele, Bruce Ohr, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., as well as evidence suggesting Steele engaged in potentially criminal lobbying on behalf of Deripaska in violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA.
On Tuesday morning, FBI agents searched a home used by Deripaska in New York’s Greenwich Village and in D.C. on Washington’s Embassy Row, according to The New York Times. “A spokesman for the F.B.I. office in New York would say only that the agents were ‘conducting a law enforcement operation pursuant to a law enforcement investigation,’” the Times reported, while Deripaska’s spokeswoman “issued a statement confirming the searches, and saying that the investigation was related to U.S. sanctions.”
The Trump administration sanctioned Deripaska in 2018, explaining then that the Russian oligarch had acted, or purported to act, for a senior official of the Russian Federation. “Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering,” according to the Treasury Department. The announcement of the sanctions added that “there are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.”
The search warrants may focus, as Deripaska’s spokeswomen claimed, on purported crimes related to the U.S. sanctions levied against Deripaska. But the interest in Deripaska likely extends beyond the Southern District of New York — to Special Counsel John Durham. And Deripaska may well be the player that proves the downfall of Steele.
While Steele remains most famous for his work for Fusion GPS, crafting and peddling the Steele dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign, his clients included more than the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign. Significantly, according to another New York Times report, Steele worked for one of Deripaska’s lawyers.
However, after reporting that one of the Russian oligarch’s attorneys had hired the former MI6 agent, the Steele-friendly press ignored the importance of this fact — even while reporting details of several of Steele’s conversations with government officials, including former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr, on behalf of Deripaska.
If Deripaska’s attorneys were paying Steele to represent the Russian oligarch’s interests, that implicates FARA, which requires individuals lobbying on behalf of foreign individuals or governments and seeking to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws to register with the federal government. Steele, however, never registered as a foreign agent.
In covering the news of the FBI’s recent searches of Deripaska’s houses, the establishment media portrayed Steele’s apparent lobbying for the Russian oligarch as efforts by the FBI and DOJ “during the campaign,” “to turn Mr. Deripaska into an informant” — efforts that failed.
It is true that there were efforts to turn Deripaska into an informant, but those attempts followed Steele’s feeding of supposed intel on Trump and Deripaska to Ohr, and, significantly, Steele’s efforts continued for many months after the election.
The timing proves significant because the general five-year statute of limitations applying to FARA crimes is quickly running out on any illegal lobbying that occurred before the November 2016 election. Ohr, however, continued to meet with Steele after the election, with the FBI then interviewing Ohr to learn the latest from Steele, the latter of whom had been fired as an FBI source. From the 302 interview summary forms, it appears Ohr met with Steele through May of 2017.
Significantly, Ohr also took a lead in pushing to reach a deal with Deripaska and did so based on Steele’s supposed intel. We know this from the Inspector General’s report, which noted that “on December 7, 2016, Ohr convened an interagency meeting (including representatives from the FBI) regarding strategy in dealing with” Deripaska.
Following that meeting, a DOJ colleague asked Ohr “why the U.S. government would support trying to work with” Deripaska. The colleague told the Inspector General “that Ohr told her that Steele provided information that the Trump campaign had been corrupted by the Russians” and went “all the way to the President.”
Deripaska never “flipped,” however, maintaining that there was no collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. But now, following the execution of the search warrants, the Russian might have more to say, albeit about Steele and the FBI agents who attempted to use him to take down Trump during the heat of the Russia-collusion hoax.
The Russian oligarch might also have some interesting details to provide concerning efforts his then-officially registered foreign agent Adam Waldman undertook to connect Steele with Warner, the Democrat senator. A slew of text messages between Warner, who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Waldman, who had registered as an agent for Deripaska, detailed efforts between the two to get Warner access to Steele.
While Steele continues to present himself as a “patriot,” as seen most recently in the Hulu special, “Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier,” his actions tell a different tale — one of a man paid by his clients to sell a story.
We already know he was paid by the Clinton campaign to peddle the Steele dossier. The question remains whether Deripaska also paid Steele for the former MI6’s efforts to smooth things over with the federal government.
At least two men know the answer to that question, and now one may have a pretty strong incentive to share that knowledge.