Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear discussed the two reports with Alexander Mercouris, editor-in-chief of The Duran, a UK-based outlet that describes itself as "a conservative news-media platform that advances a realpolitik position."
"The short answer is that they weren't responsible for Mitt Romney not becoming secretary of state," said Mercouris. "The whole concoction is absurd, and it shows how this whole Steele dossier, and all the information has been churning out of Christopher Steele, is [absurd] as well.
"The process by which Rex Tillerson became secretary of state [instead of Mitt Romney] are very well-known. The person who actually proposed him was none other than [former Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice. The suggestion that the Russians had any role in his appointment is ridiculous and they certainly weren't involved in blocking Mitt Romney's appointment."
Becker pointed out that Romney had frequently slammed US President Donald Trump during the presidential election, which made his appointment to a key office in Trump's cabinet a tenuous proposition at best.
Mercouris agreed. "The extraordinary thing for me is we get to all these absurd claims turned out from Christopher Steele, but people still seem to put enormous credence in what he says. One wonders how absurd things have to become before people start to doubt him. He wrote the famous dossier [about alleged ties between Trump Russian actors] that was published by BuzzFeed which we have heard so much, which the FBI has admitted they can't verify. Anybody who reads it and is familiar with the 2016 US election and with Russian politics knows it makes absolutely no sense at all."
"Yet despite this, despite this preposterous story about Romney, you still find 15,000-word articles that just appeared in the New Yorker to try and build up his credibility."
Becker moved from the Romney story to another bizarre charge levied against Russia: the sudden death of Sergey Skripal after he was hospitalized following contamination with an "unknown substance."
Skripal was a Russian military colonel and intelligence agent who was flipped by British intelligence agency MI-6 to spy on Russia for London. He was exposed and jailed by Russian authorities in 2004. Skripal was released as part of a spy exchange between Russia and the US in 2010 and was living in the UK at the time of his demise.
"If you go on the BBC website or you read articles in the Financial Times, they take Russian guilt in this case as a given," said Mercouris. "Now, there is no evidence of Russian guilt, at least of what has been made public. The police are carrying out their own investigation, the circumstances of this incident are not at all clear."
"t doesn't seem to make a great deal of sense [for Moscow to have ordered Skripal assassinated]. That's all I want to say at the moment. Obviously we don't really have very much information. To speculate in any way is unwarranted and to point the finger at the Russian government is not just unwarranted, it's preposterous."