Former Obama official confirms Steele dossier was given to State

An official at former President Obama’s State Department has confirmed a claim made by Republicans that former British spy Christopher Steele and allies of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOlympic figure skater Michelle Kwan makes Iowa appearances for Biden The Memo: 2020 Democratic tensions burst to surface The 'Green' new deal that Tom Perez needs to make MORE gave him intelligence reports claiming that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems want tougher language on election security in defense bill Five aides to Van Drew resign ahead of his formal switch to GOP The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE was compromised by the Russians.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSchiff defends FBI investigation into Trump campaign, saying errors were not 'apparent' two years ago Democrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill MORE is investigating me: Here’s the Truth,” former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Winer says Steele and Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal approached him with separate dossiers claiming malfeasance between Trump and Russia. 

Winer’s op-ed confirms the chain of events Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday MORE (R-Iowa) detailed in a criminal referral for Steele, in which he asks the Justice Department to investigate the former intelligence agent for allegedly lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media. 

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That criminal referral states that “a friend of the Clintons” approached an Obama State Department official with a document making claims about Trump, which the official then passed on to Steele, who was at the time a paid informant for The FBI.

In the op-ed, Winer states that Steele first approached him in September of 2016 with the dossier about Trump. Winer distilled the dossier into a two-page summary that he shared with former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who notified then-Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: 2020 Democratic tensions burst to surface UN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest' Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: 'scathing indictment' MORE

Later that month, Winer said he met with Blumenthal, who he described as “an old friend.” They discussed the Steele report and Blumenthal showed Winer “notes” put together by another longtime Clinton operative, Cody Shearer, that “echoed” the claims made in the Steele dossier. 

“What struck me was how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources,” Winer writes.

Winer also says that he then shared the information from the Clinton operatives with Steele “to ask for his professional reaction.”

“He said that it was similar but separate from the information he had gathered from his sources,” Winer said. “I agreed to let him keep a copy of the Shearer notes.” 

Winer says he did not mention the information he got from Blumenthal to anyone at State and that he did not believe Steele would share it with anyone else in the government.

“But I learned later that Steele did share them — with the FBI, after the FBI asked him to provide everything he had on allegations relating to Trump, his campaign and Russian interference in U.S. elections,” Winer writes. 

Winer insists there was nothing improper about his meetings with Steele, who was separately providing State with reports on geopolitical developments about Russia and Ukraine while he was also working for the FBI and Fusion GPS, who contracted him to dig into Trump’s background, partly on behalf of Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. 

“I am in no position to judge the accuracy of the information generated by Steele or Shearer,” Winer says. “But I was alarmed at Russia’s role in the 2016 election, and so were U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials. I believe all Americans should be alarmed — and united in the search for the truth about Russian interference in our democracy, and whether Trump and his campaign had any part in it.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has said he’s investigating the Obama State Department’s role in handling the Steele dossier.