There are common threads, associations and even funding sources that link the narrative involving allegations at the center of the current impeachment drive to discredited claims of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Many of those ties involve characters who played central roles in disseminating the infamous dossier.
Below, in no particular order, are four major ties between the impeachment narrative and the Russia hoax.
1 – Impeachment star witness Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, worked closely with David J. Kramer, a long-time adviser to late Senator John McCain. Kramer played a central role in disseminating the anti-Trump dossier to the news media and Obama administration.
Taylor for the last nine years served as a senior adviser to the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), which has co-hosted events with the Atlantic Council think tank and has participated in events co-hosted jointly by the Atlantic Council and Burisma, the natural gas company at the center of allegations regarding Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. USUBC events have been financially sponsored by Burisma.
Another senior adviser to the USUBC is David J. Kramer, the long-time McCain aid who played a key role distributing the dossier.
Taylor participated in events and initiatives organized by Kramer.
Kramer also held a November 2011 event at the Atlantic Council’s D.C. offices for a group that he heads called Freedom House. Taylor was one of six featured speakers at Kramer’s event. The Atlantic Council is sponsored by Burisma.
The Atlantic Council published what it deemed a 24-point plan for ending the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In conjunction with the plan, Kramer, in his role as director of Freedom House, organized a letter by American and European experts and former officials urging Russia to end its conflict with Ukraine.
Signatories of the letter, published on the Burisma-funded Atlantic Council’s website, include Taylor, Kramer and the Atlantic Council’s Herbst.
As late as this past March, Taylor was listed as one of nine members of the Friends of Ukraine Network Economic Security Task Force. Another member is Kramer.
When he deployed to Ukraine as Trump’s ambassador in June, the USUBC authored a piece in the Kyiv Post welcoming him.
In the USUBC piece welcoming Taylor to Ukraine, Kramer himself commented about Taylor’s ambassador position. “He’s a great choice for now,” Kramer gushed.
The USUBC’s piece noted that the “USUBC has worked closely with Ambassador Taylor for many years,” touting his role as the business group’s senior adviser.
As Breitbart News reported, itinerary for a trip to Ukraine in August organized by the Atlantic Council think tank reveals that a staffer on Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a meeting during the trip with Taylor. The trip took place 12 days after the so-called whistleblower’s complaint was filed after first reportedly interacting with a Schiff staffer,
Geysha Gonzalez is the sponsoring Atlantic Council officer listed on the Congressional disclosure form for the Schiff staffer’s trip to Ukraine in August. She is deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.
Gonzalez is also one of eleven members of the rapid response team for the Ukrainian Election Task Force, which says it is working to expose “foreign interference in Ukraine’s democracy.” Another member of the team is Kramer.
Kramer revealed in testimony that he held a meeting about the anti-Trump dossier with a reporter from BuzzFeed News, who he says snapped photos of the controversial document when he left the room to go to the bathroom. That meeting was held at the McCain Institute office in Washington, Kramer stated.
BuzzFeed infamously published the Christopher Steele dossier on January 10, 2017, setting off a firestorm of news media coverage about the document.
The Washington Post reported last February that Kramer received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in it.
In a deposition taken on December 13, 2017, and posted online earlier this year, Kramer revealed that he met with two Obama administration officials to inquire about whether the anti-Trump dossier was being taken seriously.
In one case, Kramer said that he personally provided a copy of the dossier to Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander.
In the deposition, Kramer said that McCain specifically asked him in early December 2016 to meet about the dossier with Wallander and Victoria Nuland, a senior official in John Kerry’s State Department.
2 – Alleged ‘Whistleblower’ Eric Ciaramella worked closely with anti-Trump dossier hoaxer Victoria Nuland.
Eric Ciaramella, whom Real Clear Investigations suggests is the likely so-called whistleblower, was part of an Obama administration email chain celebrating the eventual signing of a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee to Ukraine.
That and other emails show Ciaramella interfaced about Ukraine with individuals who played key roles in facilitating the infamous anti-Trump dossier produced by Fusion GPS and reportedly financed by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. One of those individuals, then-Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, received updates on Ukraine issues from dossier author Christopher Steele in addition to Nuland’s direct role in the dossier controversy.
In addition to internal emails with Nuland, Breitbart News reported that Ciraramella and Nuland received emails about Ukraine policy from a top director at George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. The emails informed Ciaramella, Nuland and a handful of other Obama administration foreign policy officials about Soros’s whereabouts, the contents of Soros’s private meetings about Ukraine and a future meeting the billionaire activist was holding with the prime minister of Ukraine.
Nuland has come under repeated fire for her various roles in the anti-Trump dossier controversy.
In their book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, authors and reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write that Nuland gave the green light for the FBI to first meet with Steele regarding his dossier’s claims. It was at that meeting that Steele initially reported his dossier charges to the FBI, the book relates.
FBI notes cite career Justice Department official Bruce Ohr as saying that Nuland was in touch with Fusion GPS co-founder and dossier producer Glenn Simpson.
Sen. John McCain, who infamously delivered the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey, reportedly first dispatched Kramer to inquire with Nuland about the dossier claims.
Meanwhile, looped into some other email chains with Ciaramella was then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s chief of staff at the State Department, John Finer.
An extensive New Yorker profile of Steele named Finer as obtaining the contents of a two-page summary of the dossier and eventually deciding to share the questionable document with Kerry.
Finer reportedly received the dossier summary from Jonathan M. Winer, the Obama State Department official who acknowledged regularly interfacing and exchanging information with Steele, according to the report. Winer previously conceded that he shared the dossier summary with Nuland.
After his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the dossier, 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 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.
In testimony last year, Nuland made statements about a meeting at the State Department in October 2016 between State officials and Steele, but said that she didn’t participate.
At a June 2018 hearing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) revealed contents of the State Department’s visitor logs while he was grilling Nuland.
At the hearing, Burr asked: “I know you talked extensively with our staff relative to Mr. Steele. Based upon our review of the visitor logs of the State Department, Mr. Steele visited the State Department briefing officials on the dossier in October of 2016. Did you have any role in that briefing?”
“I did not,” Nuland replied. “I actively chose not to be part of that briefing.”
“But were you aware of that briefing?” Burr asked.
“I was not aware of it until afterwards,” Nuland retorted.
Nuland did not explain how she can actively chose not to be part of Steele’s briefing, as she claimed, yet say she was unaware of the briefing until after it occurred. Nuland was not asked about the discrepancy during the public section of the testimony, which was reviewed in full by Breitbart News.
Nuland previously served as chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott under Bill Clinton’s administration, and then served as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs.
Nuland faced confirmation questions prior to her most recent appointment as assistant secretary of state over her reported role in revising controversial Obama administration talking points about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. Her reported changes sought to protect Hillary Clinton’s State Department from accusations that it failed to adequately secure the woefully unprotected U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi.
A RealClearInvestigations report by investigative journalist and author Paul Sperry named Ciaramella as best fitting the description of the so-called whistleblower.
Officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings say Ciaramella’s name has been raised in private in impeachment depositions and during at least one House open hearing that was not part of the formal impeachment proceedings.
Federal documents show Ciaramella also worked closely with Joe Biden and worked under Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser. He also worked with former CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump advocate who has faced controversy for his role in fueling the questionable Russia collusion investigation. Rice participated in Russia collusion probe meetings and reportedly unmasked senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign.
3 – Common funding themes link ‘whistleblower’ complaint and CrowdStrike firm.
There are common threads that run through an organization repeatedly relied upon in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint about Trump and CrowdStrike, the outside firm utilized to conclude that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers since the DNC would not allow the U.S. government to inspect the servers.
One of several themes is financing tied to Google, whose Google Capital led a $100 million funding drive that financed Crowdstrike. Google Capital, which now goes by the name of CapitalG, is an arm of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, has been a staunch and active supporter of Hillary Clinton and is a longtime donor to the Democratic Party.
CrowdStrike was mentioned by Trump in his call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, reportedly helped draft CrowdStrike to aid with the DNC’s allegedly hacked server.
On behalf of the DNC and Clinton’s campaign, Perkins Coie also paid the controversial Fusion GPS firm to produce the infamous, largely-discredited anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
CrowdStrike is a California-based cybersecurity technology company co-founded by Dmitri Alperovitch.
Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Burisma-funded Atlantic Council, which takes a hawkish approach toward Russia. The Council, mentioned in #1 above, in turn is financed by Google Inc.
Another Atlantic Council funder is Burisma, the natural gas company at the center of allegations involving the Bidens that were the subject of Trump’s inquiry with Zelemsky related to Biden. The Biden allegations concern significant questions about Biden’s role in Ukraine policy under the Obama administration. This took place during a period when Hunter Biden received $50,000 a month from Burisma.
Besides Google and Burisma funding, the Council is also financed by billionaire activist George Soros’s Open Society Foundations as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc. and the U.S. State Department.
Google, Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Fund and an agency of the State Department each also finance a self-described investigative journalism organization repeatedly referenced as a source of information in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint alleging Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 presidential race.
The charges in the July 22 report referenced in the whistleblower’s document and released by the Google and Soros-funded organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), seem to be the public precursors for a lot of the so-called whistleblower’s own claims, as Breitbart News documented.
One key section of the so-called whistleblower’s document claims that “multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelensky advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov.”
This was allegedly to follow up on Trump’s call with Zelensky in order to discuss the “cases” mentioned in that call, according to the so-called whistleblower’s narrative. The complainer was clearly referencing Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate the Biden corruption allegations.
Even though the statement was written in first person – “multiple U.S. officials told me” – it contains a footnote referencing a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
That footnote reads:
In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019 and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelensky adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.
The so-called whistleblower’s account goes on to rely upon that same OCCRP report on three more occasions. It does so to:
- Write that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko “also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters.”
- Document that Trump adviser Rudi Giuliani “had spoken in late 2018 to former Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr. Giuliani.”
- Bolster the charge that, “I also learned from a U.S. official that ‘associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team.” The so-called whistleblower then relates in another footnote, “I do not know whether these associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July report by OCCRP, referenced above.”
CrowdStrike, meanwhile, was brought up by Trump in his phone call with Zelensky.
According to the transcript, Trump told Zelensky, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people…The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
In his extensive report, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller notes that his investigative team did not “obtain or examine” the servers of the DNC in determining whether those servers were hacked by Russia.
The DNC famously refused to allow the FBI to access its servers to verify the allegation that Russia carried out a hack during the 2016 presidential campaign. Instead, the DNC reached an arrangement with the FBI in which CrowdStrike conducted forensics on the server and shared details with the FBI.
In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI registered “multiple requests at different levels,” to review the DNC’s hacked servers. Ultimately, the DNC and FBI came to an agreement in which a “highly respected private company”—a reference to CrowdStrike—would carry out forensics on the servers and share any information that it discovered with the FBI, Comey testified.
A senior law enforcement official stressed the importance of the FBI gaining direct access to the servers, a request that was denied by the DNC.
“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official was quoted by the news media as saying.
“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier,” the official continued.
4 – BuzzFeed, which first obtained and published the dossier, also released a Ukraine investigation used in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint.
The OCCRP report repeatedly referenced in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint (see above #3) is actually a “joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine.”
BuzzFeed infamously also first published the full anti-Trump dossier alleging unsubstantiated collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee and was produced by the Fusion GPS opposition dirt outfit.
The OCCRP and BuzzFeed “joint investigation” resulted in both OCCRP and BuzzFeed publishing similar lengthy pieces on July 22 claiming that Trump attorney Rudi Giuliani was attempting to use connections to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rivals.
The so-called whistleblower’s document, however, only mentions the largely unknown OCCRP and does not reference BuzzFeed, which has faced scrutiny over its reporting on the Russia collusion claims.
Besides publishing the dossier, BuzzFeed also obtained the document from David Kramer, the long-time advisor to McCain mentioned in #1 above for his ties to impeachment witness Taylor and in #2 for also passing the dossier to Nuland, an associate of alleged whistleblower Ciaramella.
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.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this story.