Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal’s name is cropping up again, but this time, as a potential key figure involved with the Trump dossier and the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
Republican congressional investigators appear to be zeroing in on Blumenthal, and the role he may have played in feeding information that Trump dossier author Christopher Steele later presented to the FBI in its investigation of the Trump campaign.
The prospect of Blumenthal — a long-time Clinton operative — feeding information for an FBI investigation on the Trump campaign has caused alarm among Republican lawmakers in charge of oversight of the FBI and the Justice Department.
The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that Steele gave the FBI a report in October 2016 that he received from a State Department employee about Trump and Russia.
According to the Post, the report was written by Cody Shearer, a former journalist with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, who gave it to Blumenthal, who gave it to State Department official Jonathan Winer, who gave it to Steele, who then gave it to the FBI.
Shearer’s report claimed a source inside the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spy agency alleged that Trump had financial ties to influential Russians and that the FSB had evidence of him engaging in compromising personal behavior.
A lawyer for Winer, Lee Wolosky, told the Post his client told the Post his client’s actions were “grounded” in concerns that a candidate for the presidency may have been compromised by a hostile foreign power. Wolosky did not say why Winer gave the report to Steele instead of the FBI.
The Guardian, which has ties to ex-British spy Steele, also reported recently that Shearer wrote a report that was given to Steele. Shearer had also shared his report with “select media organizations before the election,” according to the British paper.
Blumenthal and Shearer’s names were first tied to the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in a letter sent last month by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to the Democratic National Committee.
Grassley and Graham wanted the DNC to disclose any communications with Blumenthal and Shearer from March 2016 to January 2017. Earlier this week, the two GOP senators released a redacted memo that described the transmission of a report from a Clinton friend to Steele:
“One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges [redacted], as well as [redacted]. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from [redacted] U.S. State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who ‘is in touch with [redacted], a contact of [redacted], a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to [redacted].”
They added, “It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”
Since the names are redacted by the FBI, they cannot be disclosed publicly by those who have seen them. Lawmakers who have seen the unredacted versions have danced around who they are.
When asked on FOX News’s The Story, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told anchor Martha MacCallum that she was “really warm” if she believed that Blumenthal was part of the chain of information to Steele described by Grassley and Graham.
“I’m trying to think how Secretary Clinton defined him. I think she said he was an old friend who emailed her from time to time,” he said on Tuesday.
MacCallum then asked, “Sidney Blumenthal?” Gowdy responded, “That’d be really warm. You’re warm. Yeah.”
House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) also mentioned Blumenthal and Shearer’s role on Fox & Friends on Tuesday.
“What it looks like is, they paid Steele to put together the dossier and told him what to put in,” he said.
Micah Morin, chief investigative reporter at Judicial Watch, questioned whether Shearer and Blumenthal were also behind the dossier’s sources. He wrote:
According to the Guardian, Steele provided ‘a copy [of the Shearer report] because it corresponded with what he had separately heard from his own independent sources.’ If the reporting here is accurate, that’s quite a coincidence—that Cody Shearer and Christopher Steele were hearing the same things from different sources at pretty much the same time. A closer look at timelines and sources might be revealing. If Sid and Cody are behind the original Russian dossier sources, that would be big news indeed.
“It’s an astonishing, convoluted and somewhat circular chain of custody in which a Clinton source, that is Shearer and Blumenthal, gives it to the former, to the State Department where she used to be Secretary of State, who gives it to Christopher Steele, who’s being paid by the Clinton campaign, who then gives it to the FBI,” the Washington Examiner‘s Chief Political Correspondent Byron York said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Wednesday.
Blumenthal has a known history of smearing opponents of the Clintons.
During Bill Clinton’s impeachment crisis, as one of Clinton’s special advisers, he spread rumors that one of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s prosecutors abused young boys at a Christian summer camp and that Monica Lewinsky was stalking the president, according to the Observer. He also spread rumors that Colin Powell’s wife suffered from clinical depression and was unfit to be a first lady, according to publication.
As a former journalist, Blumenthal also used his media contacts to give the Clintons a heads up about forthcoming stories, and advised the Clinton campaign in 2008 to target then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) ties to Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan.
After Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel refused to allow Blumenthal to join the Clinton State Department, he became a Clinton Foundation consultant, earning at least $120,000 a year. He continued to advise her in a number of areas, according to emails released by the State Department.
Less is known about Shearer. According to a recent article in the Washington Times, he was dubbed “Mr. Fixer” for Bill and Hillary Clinton and was a “workmate” of Blumenthal.
Shearer went from a journalist decades ago to foreign policy freelancer – once trying to broker some sort of peace deal in Bosnia, although he was not a U.S. official, – and working with Blumenthal to supply intelligence on Libya to Clinton when she was secretary of state. According to investigative journalist Sara Carter, Shearer worked in the 1990s for President Bill Clinton.
Nonprofit investigative journalism outlet ProPublica described Shearer as “a longtime Clinton family operative — his brother was an ambassador under Bill Clinton and his now-deceased sister was married to Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott — who was in close contact with Blumenthal.”
According to Judicial Watch’s Morin, Shearer “has a long history of dirty tricks.”
“He’s been linked to Whitewater-era efforts to dirty up Bill Clinton critics; to shakedown politics involving the Cheyenne-Arapaho Indian tribe; and to fronting for Bosnian Serb butcher Radovan Karadzic,” he wrote.
As the Times has noted, for whom Shearer produced his anti-Trump report is unclear.
Even less known about Jonathan Winer. Winer served as the State Department’s Special Envoy for Libya and Senior Advisor for MEK resettlement, according to the State Department website.
According to CNN, Winer worked with Steele from 2014 through 2016. Steele reportedly provided Winer with reports related to the conflict in Ukraine and Russia as a courtesy.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who led efforts to show that senior FBI and DOJ officials relied on the dossier to get a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser, has said there will be a forthcoming memo on the State Department’s role in the FBI’s investigation of Trump, but has not said when that might be released.