How Did the “Publication” of the Dossier Lead to a Murder before It was Published?

In the furor surrounding the publication of the Simpson transcript last week, a number of people pointed to this line to talk about how credible the dossier is.

MR. FOSTER: Earlier you talked about evaluating the credibility of the information in the memoranda that you were being provided by Mr. Steele and, by way of summary, you talked about your belief that he was credible and that you had worked with him before and the information he had provided you had been reliable in the past. Did you take any steps to try to assess the credibility of his sources, his unnamed sources in the material that he was providing to you?

MR. SIMPSON: Yes, but I’m not going to get into sourcing information.

MR. FOSTER: So without getting into naming the sources or anything like that, what steps did you take to try to verify their credibility?

MR. SIMPSON: I’m going to decline to answer that.


MR. LEVY: It’s a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.

That has been taken as a reference to Oleg Erovinkin, the former FSB General who died under mysterious circumstances on December 26, 2016. I myself have pointed to that death, repeatedly, as the one that could very credibly be seen as someone who could be one of the sources described in the dossier being assassinated in retaliation for sharing information with Christopher Steele. I absolutely agree that sharing the dossier with journalists, as Fusion did, could pose a real threat to Steele’s sources.

That said, Luke Harding, who had input from Steele on his book, reported that Erovinkin was not a Steele source.

Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasn’t his source and “not one of ours.”

As a person close to Steele put it to me: “Sometimes people just die.” (101)

Frankly, if Erovinkin was one of Steele’s sources, I can understand why he’d lie about it. Though it’s also worth remembering that four Russians who allegedly have ties with the US were arrested on treason charges in December, so maybe Erovinkin was our source? So I won’t take Harding’s report as dispositive.

Bet let’s accept the premise that the Erovinkin death might be tied to the Steele dossier.

Let’s look at what Joshua Levy actually said. “Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier.”

Erovinkin died on December 26, 2016. The dossier wasn’t published by BuzzFeed until January 11, 2017.

If Erovinkin was, in fact, “killed as a result of the publication of this dossier,” then what Levy means is that he was killed as a result of reports from the dossier being reported by the press in September and October and November. He obviously couldn’t be killed in December for the only publication we know of that Fusion had no firsthand role in, the January BuzzFeed publication.

19 replies
  1. greengiant says:

    Learned that Steele had a first hand role in revealing some contents to Corn in 2016.   Guess it could depend on what “publication” means to the speaker.

  2. Avattoir says:

    Damn your resort to facts, your notoriously sharp eyes, your organizational sense, and particularly your infernal respect for the dimension of time, madam. Good day!

  3. Peterr says:

    Buzzfeed may not have published until January, but the dossier was clearly being shopped around, in whole or in part, to various outlets prior to that. As you noted in a post last September, “Remember: the Russians learned about this dossier by October 31 [2016], if not before.” If they then became convinced that Erovinkin was somehow connected with it (rightly or wrongly), it is quite conceivable for Simpson to tie the death and the publication together, even with the timeline problem you note here.

    Question: we know when Buzzfeed published the dossier, but do we know when they came into possession of it?

    • emptywheel says:

      Right: My point is, if it got someone killed, it did so bc of the dissemination Fusion was doing. Which is why you don’t spread HUMINT out widely among the press.

    • emptywheel says:

      We’re ultimately going to learn that McCain’s dude, Kramer, gave it to BuzzFeed. Most interesting thing about that is they learned about the dossier at the Halifax conference; Akhmetshin attended that.

      • Trip says:

        OT, but have you seen this?  It involves Manafort’s buddy in Ukraine. (but the story doesn’t cover him). Pretty indepth look at how money is laundered internationally. Some nice cinematography, at times, too.
        The Oligarchs – Al Jazeera Investigations
        On topic: Another guy who died from a heart attack/tumor/fall/blunt force trauma, after the Mother Jones article:

        Russian official in NYC dies on Election Day
        Krivov, who was born in Russia, had served in the consulate as duty commander involved with security affairs, according to Russian news reports.
        Russian consular officials first said Krivov fell from the roof. Then, they said he died of a heart attack.
        The initial police report filed on the day of the incident said Krivov was found “with an unknown trauma to the head,” according to a New York Police Department spokesman.
        However, after conducting an autopsy and finishing its investigation, the New York City Medical Examiner ruled that Krivov died from bleeding in the chest area, likely due to a tumor. Police sources said foul play wasn’t suspected and that Krivov had been in poor health.

        Peter Smith, the GOP operative committed suicide after the WSJ interview, and after the dossier was published, but he’s likely not a source. Strange suicide, no matter.





        • Charles says:

          Hate to follow you off-topic, but that al Jazeera report is very interesting.


          Ukraine is an important and fascinating piece of the puzzle. I suspect it’s what triggered the Russian decision to destabilize the United States, using the same kinds of tactics that the US has used against other countries, including Russia.


          It’s far closer from the northeastern borders of Ukraine to Moscow than it is from Havana to Washington. The Russian/Cuban decision to base ICBMs in Cuba triggered an American blockade, and nearly World War III. Yet for some reason, US decision makers from Bill Clinton onward haven’t figured out that the Russians regard Ukraine as a critical buffer.

          Yanukovych was indeed corrupt, exactly the same sort of international criminal that Russia is infested with. And yet he had been lawfully elected. The US decision to support demonstrations that ended in his overthrow was some of the worst statecraft we have ever done because, while it got rid of the corrupt head of state, it did so by unlawful means and left intact the system that produced him.


          And, of course, US business interests were ready and waiting to fill the vacuum:

          Currently, OPIC has over $500 million in active exposure in Ukraine, supporting U.S. business and investors across projects ranging from energy, small and medium business lending, retail, transportation, real estate, and banking. Approximately one third of OPIC’s portfolio supports projects in conflict affected and conflict vulnerable countries.

      • greengiant says:

        The Halifax conference, a nexus point dear to pro Trump propaganda.

        March 31,  Akhmetshin accused

        Tuesday   May 3,  2017,  Comey Testimony.

        Thursday May 5,  2017,  Akhmetshin and McCain reported at Halifax conference in 2016  ( Chuck Ross of daily caller )

        Retweeted by most successful Trump web bot inside 3 hours @MyPlace4U

        5 May 2017   “first known flag to date” Trump web bot refers to Akhmetshin as Fusion GPS employee

        T-Covfefe Retweeted Chuck [email protected] @DevinNunes @TGowdySC @SenatorBurr @RepPeteKing Former Russian spy who was Fusion GPS employee was at same forum as McCain    ( search for  MyPlace4U )

        8 Dec 2017 Steve McIntyre reminds EW of McCain, Akhmetshin,  ex MI6 Woods  at Halifax conference

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Hell of a price to pay, even for a senior member of the FSB. No trip to the gulag, no embarrassment, prison or bankruptcy.  Prompt termination with extreme prejudice.  Pour encourager les autres.

      Putin must have felt it important to send a message, and have something important to hide.  Yet, Trump and his senior cohort were desperate to have an ever closer relationships with this guy.

      Trump might have a partial excuse: he’s easily fooled.  He thinks being a “genius” is making money while flouting the law.  Never mind his idiosyncratic definition (unfazed by daddy’s prison time or his six bankruptcies), or that he was born and raised with money, and inherited $100 million of it.

      Unfortunately for us, Trump rarely hires anyone with more brains than he has, to which he would say that would be impossible, so why try.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    This is being posted on DKos, being trumpeted as a significant wipeout of the dossier.

    Um, no.  The dossier has many things to tell, and so far this part of the dossier input (that the FBI had a mole) is not really on Mueller’s radar (because he has not used the dossier anywhere that I’ve seen reported).  In my view, if anything it tends to make it slightly less problematic for the NYC Feebs to explain why they knew (from the alleged mole, plus intercepts and potentially wires) of these peccadillos and spent their time instead trying to slime HRC over alleged email issues when they knew they did not know what Huma had on her computer.  Dereliction of duty applies to them too.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    OT but worth getting popcorn: Corey’s going to testify to Congress to the House Intel committee on Wednesday or Thursday.  WE should start a pool on whether he goes the “I don’t remember”, “attorney-client privilege”, “executive privilege” or “Fifth Amendment” routes.  Since it is during the work day I would not recommend a drinking game.

    I wonder if anyone on the GOP side will ask him about the Kaiser’s Hope Hicks quote from “Fire and Fury”. The D’s won’t do it but the GOP needs to distract from any real information. I’d bet it will be used as a “gee, this is why you’re the victim here” gambit.


  6. Rugger9 says:

    OT but something I keep hearing from the anti-immigrant crowd about the repeal of birthright citizenship.  It’s in the 14th Amendment, so this will require repeal of the 14th (which might happen if the “Convention of the States” idea succeeds).

    Of course there’s Trumpian hypocrisy too:

  7. Trip says:

    Marcy, I apologize. I edited to un-embed the link to the video, and it still reverted back to embedded versus a simple link.

    @Charles. Six of one, half dozen of the other. D Trump was elected democratically, people complained immediately of corruption, rightfully so, and began protests in earnest. Some may have been spurred on further via foreign influence attempting extreme polarization for chaos, (the same might be said of the decision to elect him in the first place). Like Ukraine, Trump wants to install unqualified, strictly political judges in on the game. This way, the head could be cut off, but the tentacles remain suctioned at every level. And one small note in the video: there is another money launderer with affection for Trump and his beauty contests. In the end, does the elementary school argument of “He started it first” really matter when we are seeing this same bleak scenario playing out before our eyes? Whether or not there was justification for Putin Inc to use our own strategy against us, means little when we are entering a concerted operation of obliteration of the domestic rule of law, or at least some would like to kill it outright.

    • Charles says:

      I’m hardly trying to justify Russian intervention, Trip.

      I am saying that Ukraine was a known vital national security interest of the Russians and that by meddling, we should have expected there would be a response. Not to be too Machiavellian, but if we had caught the Russians at their election games ahead of time, we could have permanently weakened their empire. Instead, we have weakened our own computer security, making us vulnerable to attacks on our financial system, on our electoral system, and on our system of electronic communications in general.  Our democracy is in shambles, so that we are fighting one another. The world’s other empires are the beneficiaries.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The Russians did not like our defense of the Baltics in the Cold War (we never recognized their takeover) and certainly do not like our having them join NATO.  That’s why they are using their flights to the Kaliningrad enclave (formerly Konigsberg until the Germans left after WWII) as an excuse for testing our defenses.

        Ukraine has never had that sort of recognition by the USA until after its independence from the Russian Federation.  With that said, however, it is still independent and still should own Crimea.  It also has a nice long border with the Russian Federation (consider what would be the case if Mexico joined the Russians) which from their experience in WWI and WWII the Russians know can be easily breached.  So while the interest is not unusual by Putin, it doesn’t justify the antics to drag the Ukraine back into the Russian Federation.

  8. orionATL says:

    speculation here about who killed who, or who committed suicide for what reason, seems just as gossippy as parts of the dossier. it’s fun to read with interesting comments, but the discussion seems a bit of a fevered.

  9. Kim Kaufman says:

    I’m a little behind on this. Has the full dossier been released? I remember some discussion that only part had been made public. At least I thought that’s what someone here said.

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