Source of "pee tape" report allegedly sought access to Trump before inauguration

Sergei Millian, a key source for the Steele dossier, reportedly tried to gain access to the Trump campaign

By Igor Derysh

Deputy Politics Editor

Published February 7, 2019 6:53PM (EST)

 (AP/Getty/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/Getty/Photo montage by Salon)

A Belarus-born real estate developer who served as an unwitting source for Christopher Steele’s “pee tape” dossier developed a relationship with a Trump campaign adviser and offered to serve as a conduit between the campaign and a Trump supporter with ties to the Russian government, according to a Washington Post report.

Sergei Millian, who was cited in the Steele dossier as the source for its claim of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia and was also cited as the source of the “pee tape” allegations, tried to get access to the Trump team around the time of the president's inauguration, according to the report.

Millian reportedly met with former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos at a Washington restaurant called the Russia House, which is known to be frequented by Russian diplomats, ahead of the inauguration. This happened after months of “outreach” from Millian to Papadopoulos, the Post reported.

Millian had by then offered Papadopoulos a “lucrative consulting contract to work simultaneously for Trump and an unidentified Russian,” according to the Post article. Papadopoulos said he turned down the offer.

“He said, ‘You know, George, in Russia it’s very common for people to work both in the private and public sector at the same time,’” Papadopoulos told The Post. “I told him, ‘Absolutely not.’”

Millian also offered to serve as a go-between to the Trump campaign and a Belarus-born author in Florida who has connections to the Russian government, according to emails obtained by the Post.

FBI agents have questioned Papadopoulos about his relationship with Millian, the onetime Trump aide told The Post. Papadopoulos recently served a brief prison sentence for lying to FBI agents shortly after Trump's inauguration about his Russian contacts. He remains on supervised release

The Belarus-born author mentioned in the story, Mikhail Morgulis, told the Post that he never heard from anyone associated with the Trump but said he had rallied Russian-Americans support for Trump ahead of the election.

Papadopoulos, who sparked an investigation into the Trump campaign when he bragged to an Australian diplomat that he knew the Russians had thousands of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, told the Post he first heard from Millian on July 22, 2016, the same day WikiLeaks posted stolen Democratic Party emails.

FBI agents showed up at Papadopoulos’ Chicago apartment a week after the Russia House meeting to question him about his contacts with the Russians and with Millian.

Little is known about Millian, who has disappeared from public view since being cited in the Steele dossier. He has denied being a source for the dossier and has rejected efforts by congressional investigators to interview him. House Republicans refused to subpoena Millian, who would not appear before the House Intelligence Committee without being offered immunity. The committee's new Democratic leadership reportedly plans to launch a new effort to compel his testimony.

“Sergei Millian remains someone of deep interest to our investigation,” said Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., citing his discussions with Papadopoulos and Millian’s “opaque business and personal history.”

It is unclear whether Millian has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Millian’s ties to the Russian government go back to at least 2011, when he was invited to take part in a trip on a trip to Moscow along with other American entrepreneurs. Such trips were later investigated by the FBI as possible influence operations linked to Russian intelligence.

Millian boasted in his company’s public materials that he sold apartments at the Trump Hollywood condo in Florida to rich Russian buyers, the Post reported. He posted a photo of himself and Trump, apparently taken in 2007, saying they had been introduced by “mutual associates.”

Millian told a Russian state news outlet that he had signed a contract with former longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be the Trump Organization’s “exclusive broker” after that meeting.

“Back then, in 2007-2008, Russians by the dozens were buying apartments in Trump’s buildings in the USA,” he told the outlet in April 2016.

Asked when he last spoke with Trump or his associates, Millian said, “The last time was several days ago.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's Deputy News and Politics Editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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