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

Russia says it stopped former Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love MORE from becoming President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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 TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation 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.