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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 PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' 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 TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC 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 SchiffLawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas The Hill's Morning Report - Biden on Putin: 'a worthy adversary' 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE.

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