- Sen. Chuck Grassley continues to look into possible connections between a Russian oligarch and Christopher Steele
- Grassley seeks visa records of Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin
- Deripaska is a former business partner of Paul Manafort
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley continues to look into possible connections between a Russian oligarch and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the anti-Trump dossier.
Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters to the State and Homeland Security Departments Wednesday seeking visa records of Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Committee has been examining relationships between the FBI, Mr. Christopher Steele, and others who may have provided information or participated in the creation of his dossier,” the letter reads.
Deripaska’s name has repeatedly popped up throughout the Russia investigations. He is a former business partner of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman who was indicted for his pre-campaign work for a Ukrainian political party. (RELATED: Chuck Grassley Connects Dossier Dots)
Manafort reportedly owed Deripaska $19 million over a failed business venture.
Potential links between Deripaska and Steele have also recently emerged.
Grassley sent letters in February to a lobbyist named Adam Waldman and Paul Hauser, a London-based lawyer who represents Deripaska, asking about their connections to Steele. The Republican also asked whether Deripaska has ever hired Steele, a former MI6 officer who operates a private intelligence firm in London.
Waldman, who operates Endeavor Law Firm, discussed both Deripaska and Steele in text messages sent in 2017 to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Waldman and Warner discussed setting up back channel discussions with Steele to discuss the dossier beginning March 2017. Waldman also said that Deripaska was interested in cooperating with the Senate committee in exchange for immunity. (RELATED: Steele’s Back Channel To Democratic Senator Was Lobbyist For Russia’s Foreign Minister)
The negotiations appear to have fallen through as neither Deripaska nor Steele have met with the Senate panel.
In his letters to Waldman and Hauser, Grassley asked both about their work with Deripaska and Steele. The implications of a connection between the two could be significant, largely because Steele’s 35-page report, which remains unverified, relies on information from unnamed Russian sources.
In his letter, Grassley is asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen for Deripaska’s visa records.
The billionaire was denied a visa to the U.S. back in 2006 because of State Department concerns about possible ties to Russian criminal organizations. He hired Waldman to help him obtain a visa in 2009. The next year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hired Waldman to help with the Deripaska visa issue. The Lavrov contract ended in 2017, according to documents filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Deripaska’s visa case remains unresolved, however, The New York Times reported in 2017 that he was allowed to travel to the U.S. on a diplomatic visa between 2011 and 2014.
Grassley is pressing for information about where and when Deripaska obtained visas and all entry and exit records.
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