Radio Sputnik's Lee Stranahan spoke previously with Ukrainian political consultant and former diplomat Andrii Telizhenko about his connections to a Democratic National Committee (DNC) operative named Alexandra Chalupa who also worked for clients in Ukrainian politics. Chalupa told Politico in January 2017 that beginning in 2015, she pulled on a network of sources she'd established in Kiev and Washington to try and turn up dirt on Trump, once his star began to rise in the Republican primary campaign.
"I felt there was a Russia connection," Chalupa told Politico in January 2017.
Those talks led to other revelations by Telizhenko about further shady business between paid Ukrainian researchers and the DNC. Telizhenko disclosed this information to Stranahan in an interview; the recording of that interview was played on-air during Radio Sputnik's Fault Lines program Monday by Stranahan, who cohosts the show with Garland Nixon.
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"The information I got was around a couple months ago here in Kiev, and it wasn't like I was looking for it, it just got into my hands, from people who are working on the Steele Dossier through Orbis," Telizhenko told Stranahan. Orbis is Steele's London-based investigative firm. "They were Ukrainian political consultants who are working with some of the NGOs of [George] Soros, and they were hired through Orbis to write disinformation. They didn't know at that time it was going to be for the Steele Dossier or for some dossier; they were giving some disinformation on Trump and on connections with Russia and collusion and they used that to write false evidence, false statements, and report it to Orbis."
"They were told to write false statements. When they started to work on it — they were given a couple thousand dollars a month, like three, four thousand dollars a month. For a Ukrainian that's enough. They had to do research; for example, they were hired for such companies before, but this time, as I was told by these people, and by one of the political consultants, who is a person I really know closely, that he just started to do real research and give real information, and they said, ‘Oh, this is not what we want,‘ and he said, ‘What do you want? You are paying me money, I need to give you information which is verified.' And they just said, ‘No, we want something off the top of your head, something interesting, so that we can put it into a bigger document that we can use in the future.'"
"He didn't know for what it was, how they were going to use it, and he was really freaking out and scared" because while they didn't use his name as a source for the information, he knew once the dossier came out that he had contributed to that, Telizhenko told Sputnik.
Telizhenko assured Sputnik his source is credible. "I think that this person is a legitimate political consultant. He is a known person here in Ukraine, and he is a known professional in his sphere. That's what I trust, and I trust what he was telling me off-record." Telizhenko noted that he tried to get the source to speak on record, but "he was really nervous about it at the end."
Back in studio, Stranahan noted that this is proof that such a person exists who would likely be willing to go on the record, should a US Congressional investigation seek the information he can supply, but that neither the Ukrainian government nor the FBI can be trusted with that investigation based on the bureau's previous response to investigating related subjects, such Chalupa's activities.
Long-Standing Doubt About Steele's Veracity
In March 2017, Michael Morell, former adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former acting CIA director, said before a crowd at a security event that he suspected Steele had indiscriminately paid for the information in the dossier simply because it was salacious, Sputnik reported.
"Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can't judge the information — you just can't," Morell said at the time. "I had two questions when I first read it. One was, ‘How did Chris talk to these sources?' I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries."
Morell also revealed that Steele had paid people to give him information, sullying the credibility of the dossier entirely.
"And then I asked myself, ‘Why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation?' And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources, and the intermediaries got the money from Chris," Morell stated. "And that kind of worries me a little bit, because if you're paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they're going to call you up and say, 'Hey, let's have another meeting, I have more information for you,' because they want to get paid some more."
Telizhenko's revelations seem to firmly put to rest the idea that Steele's sources were associated with either the Russian government or its state security bureau, the FSB.
Telizhenko first came to Stranahan's attention when his comments appeared in a Politico article published January 11, 2017, titled "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire: Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton."
"Oksana [Shuylar, an aide to Ukraine's ambassador to the US] said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa," recalled Telizhenko, who is now a political consultant in Kiev. "They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa," he said. "Oksana was keeping it all quiet," but "the embassy worked very closely with" Chalupa.
Telizhenko recalled to Politico that Chalupa told him and Shulyar, "If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump's involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September."
What Is the Steele Dossier Anyway?
The 35-page Steele Dossier, also known as the Trump-Russia Dossier and the "Golden Showers" Dossier, was the product of a Byzantine redirection process by Democratic American political actors. An April 2018 report published by the House Intelligence Committee established that law firm Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC to find alleged collusion between then-presidential candidate Trump and Russia, Sputnik previously reported, Fusion GPS having been a previous client for the DNC for opposition research. The DNC paid more than $1 million for the dossier, Sputnik reported. Steele's firm Orbis was, in turn, contracted by Fusion GPS. Steele insisted he obtained the information contained in the dossier from second- and third-hand sources with links to the Russian government and intelligence services.
After Trump won the election, the DNC ceased its funding of Steele, having never received the completed dossier. The FBI allegedly picked up sponsorship, believing Steele's research to contain valuable information relevant to its own investigation of collusion between Trump and Russian actors to influence the election. Either way, Steele completed the dossier before the year's end.
On August 17, 2018, it was revealed that a Department of Justice employee, Bruce Ohr, was responsible for delivering the dossier from Steele to the FBI, Sputnik reported. Evidence furnished by the testimony of disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and documents obtained by Fox News demonstrated that despite the pleadings of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, he and Ohr had met before the election.
While CNN refused to publish the contents of the dossier until it was able to independently verify its claims, it was later published by BuzzFeed just before Trump's inauguration in January 2017.
BuzzFeed has since then landed in no shortage of hot water over that action, being sued by both Russian billionaire Aleksej Gubarev and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for libel and defamation, respectively. Gubarev, founder of domain hosting network Webzilla, charged BuzzFeed with having published false information that defamed his character because the dossier claimed he had acted as a Russian intelligence agent to hack into the computers of the DNC. The dossier also claims that Cohen met in Prague with key Russian officials supposedly involved in that DNC computer hack, that his wife is Russian and that his father is a major property owner in Russia, which supposedly proved his close ties to the country. Cohen's never been to Prague, he argued in his suit against BuzzFeed. His wife is Ukrainian, not Russian, and his father's never been to Russia and owns no property there.
The House Intelligence Committee has previously established that Clinton's campaign paid Fusion GPS, which in turn hired Steele, to produce the dossier.