Russia says it stopped Mitt Romney from becoming secretary of State: report

Russia says it stopped former Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMaher makes million donation to Democratic Senate super PAC Poll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE from becoming President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE’s secretary of State, according to The New Yorker.

The magazine, in a report about Christopher Steele, says the former British spy authored a separate dossier with “a senior Russian official” as its source. That source said individuals inside Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed to have stopped Romney from becoming head of the State Department. 

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Steele’s memo said Russia used “unspecified channels” to request that Trump choose a secretary of State who would remove “Ukraine-related sanctions,” according to the report. The Kremlin also reportedly wanted the department's head to accommodate Russia in regards to Syria, where the Russian government has been backing President Bashar Assad in a years-long civil war.

Romney was reportedly under consideration for the State Department post, and met with Trump during the transition period. But the president ultimately chose current Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Pompeo working to rebuild ties with US diplomats: report NYT says it was unfair on Haley curtain story MORE

Romney, who announced a run last month for Senate in Utah, took a tough stance on Russia during his own 2012 presidential campaign. He famously sparred with former President Obama during a debate, during which Obama chided Romney for his views on Russian aggression.

Steele compiled an unverified and controversial dossier detailing Trump's alleged ties to the Kremlin. That document became a flashpoint in the probe into Russia's election meddling and any possible ties between the Trump campaign team and Moscow.