NEW YORK — While he was an official at the Obama State Department, staffer Jonathan M. Winer facilitated a meeting between anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steele and the senior director of a firm that did extensive pro bono work for the Clinton Global Initiative.
A second introduction was made to an executive from a strategic advisory firm founded by Bill Clinton’s first White House chief of staff who later served as Clinton’s counselor.
Winer made the introductions in question and also attempted to facilitate a series of other meetings for Steele utilizing his official State Department email address, as documented by emails obtained in a joint lawsuit by Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Some of the emails go back to 2014, making it unlikely the meetings were directly tied to the dossier. However, the exchanges show the depths of Winer’s contacts with Steele and the early associations between Winer and Steele and individuals tied to the Clintons’ orbit.
After his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the dossier last year, Winer authored a Washington Post oped in which he conceded that while he was working at the State Department he exchanged documents and information with dossier author Steele.
Winer further acknowledged that while at the State Department, he shared anti-Trump material with Steele passed to him by longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, whom Winer described as an “old friend.” Winer wrote that the material from Blumenthal – which Winer in turn gave to Steele – originated with Cody Shearer, who is a controversial figure long tied to various Clinton scandals.
Steele was commissioned to produce the dossier by the controversial Fusion GPS opposition research firm, which was paid for its anti-Trump work by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The Steele dossier was reportedly utilized by the FBI in part to conduct its probe into Trump over unsubstantiated claims of collusion with Russia. According to House Intelligence Committee documents, the questionable dossier was also used by Obama administration officials to obtain FISA warrants to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, who briefly served as a volunteer foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign. The political origins of the dossier and issues relating to Steele’s credibility as a source were allegedly kept from the FISA court, a House Republican memo documents.
Now the newly released emails shed further light on the extent of Winer’s association with Steele, revealing attempts to connect the former British spy to firms tied to the Clintons.
One relevant email from November 20, 2014 was sent from Winer’s State Department account to Ariuna Namsrai, APCO Worldwide’s senior director and managing director for Russia, CIS and Central Asia.
Winer wrote: “Ariuna, my friend Chris Steele from London is in town and working on Russian matters as always. I thought it might make sense for the two of you to get together if you had any time tomorrow.” The email was titled, “Chris Steele – Orbis.” Orbis is Steele’s business intelligence firm.
The exchanges show that a meeting was scheduled between Namsrai and Steele in the DC headquarters of APCO Worldwide. “I look forward to seeing him tomorrow at 11 am at APCO (700 12th street),” Namsrai wrote to Winer about seeing Steele.
Neither Winer nor Namsrai immediately returned Breitbart News requests for comment.
Winer himself worked at APCO Worldwide from 2008 to 2013 until he joined the State Department. At APCO, Winer served as senior vice president. Before that, his bio relates he served under the Bill Clinton administration as “the State Department’s first Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Law Enforcement from 1994-1999.” He returned to the State Department in 2013.
As Breitbart News previously reported, from 2007 until 2016, APCO did extensive pro bono work for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
A September 10, 2008 press release announced APCO’s commitment to CGI:
As part of APCO’s CGI Commitment to Action, the consultancy will help other CGI members garner interest for the causes they are addressing, demonstrate their success and highlight the wide-ranging achievements of CGI as a whole.
“Helping to promote the good works of CGI and its members not only benefits the companies, organizations and individuals who have made a Commitment to Action, but also brings much needed attention to pressing issues that these commitments address,” stated Margery Kraus, founder and executive chairman of APCO Worldwide. “We are honored to be working with CGI and its members in advancing their important mission.”
In 2014, CGI Chief Executive Officer Robert S. Harrison praised APCO as “an invaluable supporter of the Clinton Global Initiative and its members since 2008.”
Some of the specific work APCO did for CGI while Winer served at the firm in a senior capacity includes helping “CGI members garner interest for the causes they are addressing, demonstrate their success and highlight the wide-ranging achievements of CGI as a whole.”
APCO also provided communication support for attendees at annual CGI Annual meetings, later boasting that one annual meeting alone “generated 3,416 print and online stories, including articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Vogue, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Reuters and Bloomberg.”
APCO Worldwide faced controversy when The Hill reported that paid FBI informant Douglas Campbell, who infiltrated the Russian nuclear business world, claimed to three separate congressional committees in a written statement that Russian firms had hired APCO to influence the Obama administration and specifically Hillary Clinton.
Campbell claimed he was told by Russian nuclear executives that there was a connection between APCO’s volunteer efforts for the Clintons’ charity and work that APCO did for Tenex, the U.S. affiliate of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear company. APCO repeatedly strongly denied those claims.
Rosatom later infamously purchased Uranium One, the Canadian uranium mining company with operations in the U.S. The purchase was approved by the Obama administration in a decision that is currently being probed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Fox News also obtained and reported on Campbell’s 10-page statement to the Congressional committees.
Tenex reportedly paid some $3 million to APCO from 2010 to 2011. Circa reported that it saw the contract between Tenex and APCO, which stated the “total fee is comprised of the fixed quarterly fee which shall be $750,000 per each of the four three-month periods of rendering Services here under during the validity period of this contract, including the 18 percent Russian VAT payable in the territory of the Russian Federation.”
In a previous statement to Breitbart News, APCO Worldwide strongly denied that its work for CGI was related in any way to work the firm did for Tenex. The statement added that “Winer had no involvement on any matters related to Tenex or the Clinton Global Initiative. In fact, the four senior staff on the Tenex project included two former Bush Administration officials and a former staff member for a Republican member of the Senate.”
“APCO’s pro bono work for the Clinton Global Initiative is a matter of public record as part of our giving commitment reported to the UN Global Compact,” the statement continued. “This volunteer work began in 2007, three years before any discussion with Tenex, and continued until 2016, five years after the Tenex engagement ended. These engagements were unrelated and any suggestion that they were connected is a deliberate falsehood. APCO’s work on each of these projects was transparent, publicly documented and entirely proper.”
APCO further told Breitbart News last year: “As clearly reported in APCO’s public filings from 2010 and 2011, available to anyone online, APCO’s work for Tenex focused entirely on the company’s interest in continuing sales of fuel to the U.S. energy market. At the time, Tenex provided half of the fuel used by U.S. nuclear energy producers under a Bush administration program. Any claim that APCO was involved in the Uranium One transaction or any related CIFIUS matter is completely false.”
The company was referring to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a board that includes the State Department, the Defense Department and the Justice Department, which in 2010 under the Clinton State Department unanimously approved the Uranium One deal.
Campbell claimed that Russian nuclear officials “told me at various times that they expected APCO to apply a portion of the $3 million annual lobbying fee it was receiving from the Russians to provide in-kind support for the Clintons’ Global Initiative.”
“The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.”
In a separate statement on the matter to Circa in 2017, APCO Worldwide Inc stated “APCO was not involved in any aspect of Uranium One.”
Meanwhile, besides facilitating the meeting between Steele and an APCO executive, Winer also used his State Department email address in 2015 to introduce Steele to Marc Ginsberg, former ambassador to Morocco under Bill Clinton who served as APCO Worldwide’s senior vice president from 2002 to 2011.
Another email shows Winer attempting to set up a meeting between Steele and Nelson Cunningham, president of McLarty Associates, a consulting firm co-founded by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff and later Clinton’s counselor, Thomas ‘Mack’ McLarty.
In an email with the subject line “Chris Steele,” Winer wrote to Cunningham:
He was in my office catching up and it occurred to me there might be value for McClarty Global knowing him and his capabilities in terms of real time and longer term analysis of developments in that part of the world.
Cunningham replied that he would be “happy to meet Chris” but the proposed timing didn’t work. It was unclear whether the meeting eventually took place.
Winer, meanwhile, came to APCO in June 2008 after serving as U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement.
He wrote in his unusual Washington Post oped that he rejoined the State Department in 2013 at the insistence of John Kerry. “In 2013, I returned to the State Department at the request of Secretary of State John F. Kerry, whom I had previously served as Senate counsel,” he wrote.
In the Post piece, Winer wrote that while he was at the State Department, he repeatedly passed documents from Steele related to Russia to State officials, including to Victoria Nuland, a career diplomat who worked under the Clintons and served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs under Kerry. “Over the next two years, I shared more than 100 of Steele’s reports with the Russia experts at the State Department, who continued to find them useful,” he wrote.
Winer wrote that in the summer of 2016, Steele “told me that he had learned of disturbing information regarding possible ties between Donald Trump, his campaign and senior Russian officials.”
Winer says that he met with Steele in September 2016 to discuss details that would later become known as the anti-Trump dossier. Winer wrote that he prepared a two-page summary of Steele’s information and “shared it with Nuland, who indicated that, like me, she felt that the secretary of state needed to be made aware of this material.”
Besides bringing Steele’s dossier information to the State Department, Winer conceded that he also passed information from Blumenthal to Steele, specifically charges about Trump that originated with Shearer.
Winer described what he claimed was the evolution of his contacts with Blumenthal regarding Shearer’s information:
In late September, I spoke with an old friend, Sidney Blumenthal, whom I met 30 years ago when I was investigating the Iran-Contra affair for then-Sen. Kerry and Blumenthal was a reporter at the Post. At the time, Russian hacking was at the front and center in the 2016 presidential campaign. The emails of Blumenthal, who had a long association with Bill and Hillary Clinton, had been hacked in 2013 through a Russian server.
While talking about that hacking, Blumenthal and I discussed Steele’s reports. He showed me notes gathered by a journalist I did not know, Cody Shearer, that alleged the Russians had compromising information on Trump of a sexual and financial nature.
What struck me was how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources.
Shearer has numerous close personal and family connections to the Clintons and has reportedly been involved in numerous antics tied to them. National Review previously dubbed Shearer a “Creepy Clinton Confidante” and “The Strangest Character in Hillary’s Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.”
In his Washington Post oped, Winer does not say whether he knew at the time that he interfaced with Steele that the ex-British spy was working for Fusion GPS, or that Fusion GPS was being paid by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign via the Perkins Coie law firm.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with research by Joshua Klein.