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In Newly Released Interview, Alleged Dossier Source Made Cryptic Remarks About Trump

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
  • ABC News has released a transcript of a two-year-old interview with Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who is said to be a major source for the Steele dossier
  • In the interview, Millian remarked that Donald Trump had “tricks up his sleeve” to win the 2016 election
  • Millian’s credibility has come under question, however, including from Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS

An obscure Belarusian-American businessman made cryptic remarks about President Donald Trump in an interview with ABC News in July 2016 during the heat of the presidential campaign. Sergei Millian, who would later be identified as a major source for the infamous and unverified Steele dossier, told ABC News reporter Brian Ross that Trump had “tricks up his sleeve” to win the election.

“You think so?” ABC’s Ross asked Millian, according to a transcript of the interview, which was released in full on Aug. 28. 

“That you will see soon in the presidential campaign, yes,” replied Millian. 

Millian’s remarks to ABC News bear some resemblance to the dossier’s allegations about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

The date of the interview, July 29, 2016, is also significant. It took place two days before the FBI opened its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Several days before the interview, Millian reached out to and met with George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with a mysterious Maltese professor.

But the burning question about Millian is whether the businessman was telling the truth in the interview or when he unwittingly spoke to an intermediary who reported back to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier.

Millian’s credibility has been called into question, and he has been accused of exaggerating his links to Trump. Millian’s associates have told The Washington Post that he has a penchant for embellishment. And even Glenn Simpson, the opposition researcher who hired Steele to dig up dirt on Trump, reportedly doubted Millian.

According to the recent book, “Russian Roulette,” Simpson “had his doubts” about Millian.

“Had Millian made something up or repeated rumors he had heard from others to impress Steele’s collector? Simpson had his doubts. He considered Millian a big talker,” the book reads. (RELATED: Fusion GPS Doubted The Credibility Of A Major Dossier Source)

Despite his doubts, Simpson tipped off ABC’s Ross to Millian’s purported links to Trump and his real estate company, The Trump Organization.

Millian, whose real name is Siarhei Kukuts, was first linked publicly to the dossier on Jan. 24, 2017 when The Wall Street Journal and ABC News identified him as “Source D” in the salacious 35-page report.

Described in the dossier as a “close associate of Trump,” Source D claimed that the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. The source also claimed that the Russian government was blackmailing Trump with video footage of the real estate tycoon with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room during a trip there in 2013.

ABC News and The Wall Street Journal reported that Millian was Source D. The Journal and The Washington Post have also reported that Millian is identified in parts of the dossier as “Source E.” That source claimed that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was the campaign’s liaison to the Kremlin.

Trump and Page have vehemently denied the dossier’s allegations.

Ross, who has since left ABC News after bungling a story about former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was able to interview Millian about his knowledge of Trump’s links to Russia as well as his own possible ties to Russian intelligence agencies. Ross also asked Millian if Trump had a “Russian girlfriend.” Millian acknowledged having contacts in the Russian government but denied being a Russian spy. He also said that Trump did not have a Russian mistress.

Millian made the remark about Trump having “tricks up his sleeve” when he was asked whether he believed that the Republican had any chance of defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Days before the Millian interview, WikiLeaks released 20,000 emails that Russian government hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee. In October 2016, WikiLeaks began publishing emails hacked from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Trump and his senior campaign officials were involved in a conspiracy to release the emails in order to damage the DNC and Clinton, according to the Steele dossier.

Ross asked Millian if he had any information about whether the Russian government hacked the DNC’s computers.

“I’ve been asked this question a few times,” said Millian. But instead of discussing hacked DNC emails, Millian pivoted to a discussion about emails that Clinton deleted from her private email server. 

Two days before the interview, Trump made his now-infamous plea to the Russian government to track down Clinton’s missing emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said at a July 27, 2016 press conference.

“If [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wanted to support Donald Trump, he would share those emails that got deleted. That would be real support. So right now, it looks like Putin if he ever did that, which I doubt, he is supporting Hillary,” said Millian.

Millian went on to tell Ross that he was not sure if Russia had hacked Clinton’s missing emails.

“How? I don’t know how to know. Even if [former President] Barack Obama doesn’t know, how can Sergei Millian know?” he said.

But Millian also gave inconsistent statements about his interactions with Trump, as well as whether he was in Moscow on the night of the alleged blackmail scene.

In the interview with Ross, Millian said that he was in Moscow at the same time as Trump but that he did not accompany the real estate mogul.

“He was not with me. He was at the same time in Moscow as I was. But he worked with some of our advisors,” said Millian.

That comment contradicts what Millian told The Daily Caller News Foundation in March. Millian said in an email that he “was not in Moscow” on the same night as Trump.

Millian also suggested to Ross that he has met Trump in Florida as well as Moscow.

“Have you ever talked to Mr. Trump about Ukraine?” Ross asked Millian.

“No, we only spoke about Moscow in Russia,” said Millian. 

But in an interview in June 2017, Millian said that he had only met Trump once a decade ago.

When asked if had ever met Trump, Millian acknowledged that he had and said that “there was only one meeting” regarding “strategy and marketing opportunities for the Trump Hollywood project in Florida.”

He said that the meeting occurred “about 10 years ago,” but he complained that “the media portrays these events and meeting as if it happened yesterday.”

***

On the same day that ABC released its transcript of the Millian interview, the alleged dossier source was a topic of discussion during Justice Department official Bruce Ohr’s congressional testimony about his contacts with Steele and Simpson.

A source familiar with Ohr’s testimony told TheDCNF that Millian was mentioned when Ohr was asked about an Aug. 22, 2016 interaction he had with Simpson.

Ohr’s notes show that Simpson told him about “possible intermediaries” between the Trump campaign and Russian government as well as a “longtime associate of Trump” who “put together several real estate deals for Russian investigators to purchase Trump properties.” Millian was identified as the purported intermediary and Trump associate.

Millian’s contacts with Papadopoulos have also recently been in the news.

Papadopoulos’ attorneys said in a court filing submitted on Aug. 31 that FBI agents initially quizzed Papadopoulos about Millian during a Jan. 27, 2017 interview.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation to lying to the FBI in that interview. He faces sentencing on Friday.

The FBI agents wanted to ask Papadopoulos a “couple questions” regarding “a guy in New York that you might know[,] [t]hat has recently been in the news,” Papadopoulos’ lawyers said.

“Less than twenty minutes into the interview, the agents dropped the Millian inquiry and turned to recent news about Russian influence in the presidential election,” reads the court filing.

Millian first met Papadopoulos after sending the Trump campaign aide a message on LinkedIn on July 22, 2016. The pair met within days of the message, and continued their relationship for several months.

Papadopoulos’s wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, told TheDCNF that Millian offered her husband a job working for the Russian energy company Bashneft. The catch was that Papadopoulos had to work from within the Trump administration.

Mangiante Papadopoulos said that Papadopoulos rejected the offer.

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