Source of Steele dossier info sought access to Trump allies in 2016: report

A Russian businessman who was an unwitting source for the so-called Steele dossier developed a relationship with Trump campaign aide George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosDOJ releases new tranche of Mueller witness documents Trump rails against Fox News for planning interviews with Schiff, Comey How to shut down fake Republican outrage over 'spying' on Trump MORE in 2016, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

According to the newspaper, Sergei Millian spent months establishing a relationship with Papadopoulos and offered him a consulting contract to work for an unidentified Russian at the same time he was working for then-presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE. Papadopoulos said he turned down the offer.

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The Post noted that the extent of Millian's involvement in Trump's orbit remains unclear, but that his ties to Papadopoulos were not previously known.

Millian previously claimed in a 2016 interview that he met with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and signed a deal to sell Trump-branded real estate units in Florida. Cohen has denied those assertions, calling Millian a fraud with no legitimate connection to Trump, the Post reported.

The businessman was previously reported to have been one of the sources for the Steele dossier, which was compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and contains salacious allegations about Trump's ties to Moscow. Some of the claims remain unverified.

Also in 2016, Millian offered to serve as a go-between for a Belarusian author with ties to the Russian government and the Trump campaign, the Post reported. The author, Mikhahil Morgulis, said he never heard from the campaign.

The Post reported that the Senate and House intelligence committees have each unsuccessfully tried to interview Millian.

Millian is one of several elusive figures to emerge from the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has denied that he colluded with Russia during the campaign, and has derided the Steele dossier as "phony."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that he would launch a probe that extends beyond potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia that would investigate whether Trump's decisions as president have been motivated by financial gain.

Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser whom Trump has described as a low-level staffer, is one of several previous associates of the president to either plead guilty or be indicted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE.

He served 12 days in prison in September after pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia-linked individuals.