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Fusion GPS testimony brings businessman Sergei Millian back into the spotlight

·7 min read
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  • Sergei Millian
    Belarusian-American businessman (born 1978)
  • Glenn R. Simpson
    American journalist
sergei millian
Sergei Millian sat down for an interview with ABC in January 2017.Screenshot/ABC
  • The House Intelligence Committee released the transcript of its interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson on Thursday.

  • Simpson spoke at length about Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization.

  • Millian has denied he was a source for the Steele dossier. In November, US prosecutors accused a person who contributed to the dossier of lying about receiving information from Millian.

Editor's note: This article was updated after a Nov. 3, 2021, federal indictment accused Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the so-called Steele dossier, of lying to investigators about receiving information from Sergei Millian. Millian repeatedly denied he was a source for any material in the dossier.

Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization, has come back into the spotlight following Thursday's release of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Glenn Simpson, who cofounded the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, told lawmakers that a trip Trump Organization representatives took to Moscow several years ago had come onto the firm's radar as part of their research into Trump's business history.

The trip was organized by Sergei Millian, Simpson said. He said Millian "came up in connection with Chris' work as one of the people around Trump who had a Russian background." Chris is a reference to Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer hired by Fusion to research Trump's Russia ties.

Millian was alleged to have been a key source in a collection of memos Steele wrote between June and December of 2016 outlining Trump and his campaign members' alleged ties to Russian officials; Millian has denied this allegation. The memos allege that Moscow and the Trump campaign worked hand in hand at points to influence the US election.

sergei millian
Sergei Millian at an event following Trump's inauguration on January 20th.Screenshot/Facebook

Millian, who changed his name when he arrived in the US from Siarhei Kukuts to Sergei Millian, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006. He has described himself as an exclusive broker for the Trump Organization with respect to the company's potential real-estate dealings in Russia.

Simpson referred to the Russian-American Chamber as a "shadowy kind of trade group."

"Russians are known to use chambers of commerce and trade groups for intelligence operations," Simpson said.

Millian attended several black-tie events at Trump's inauguration. He told the Russian news agency RIA that he had been in touch with the Trump Organization as late as April 2016. He was also photographed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a longtime business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

It was around that time that Millian's organization, the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, was looking for "delegates" to attend the Russian Oil & Gas Forum in Moscow.

But Millian appears to have begun downplaying his ties to the Trump Organization after reporters began digging into Trump's Russia ties in 2016.

Contrary to what he told RIA, Millian told Business Insider in an email last year that the last time he worked on a Trump-brand project was "in Florida around 2008." He did not respond to a subsequent request to clarify the discrepancy.

There were also discrepancies in his resume, Simpson said in his testimony.

"In one resume he said he was from Belarus and he went to Minsk State, and then in another he was from Moscow and went to Moscow State," Simpson said. "In one he said he worked for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry; in the other, he said he worked for the Russian Foreign Ministry."

Millian, who Simpson said was trained as a linguist, told ABC in July 2016 that he was "one of those very few people who have insider knowledge of Kremlin politics who has the ability to understand the Russian mentality and who has been able to successfully integrate in American society."

Millian and the Trump campaign

Millian was apparently trying to integrate with Trump's campaign team, as well.

Millian told associates in 2016 that he was in regular touch with George Papadopoulos — a campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty last fall to making false statements to the FBI about the extent and nature of his contacts with Kremlin-linked foreign nationals.

Papadopoulos tried to connect another Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn, with Millian in September 2016, according to The Washington Post. Epshteyn said the meeting never happened.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was copied on emails exchanged between Millian and Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. Those emails, according to Kushner's lawyer, consisted of Cohen urging Millian to stop speaking to the press.

Simpson, however, suggested that the Millian-Cohen connection ran deeper.

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, arrives in Trump Tower in New York City.Stephanie Keith/Reuters

"As further time went on, we found [Millian] was connected to Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer," Simpson told the House committee. "Michael Cohen was very adamant that he didn't actually have a connection to Sergi, even though he was one of only like 100 people who followed Sergi on Twitter. And they — we had Twitter messages back and forth between the two of them just — we just pulled them off of Twitter."

Millian did not return a request for comment. Cohen told Business Insider earlier this month that the last time he spoke to Millian was in November 2016, days before the election, in which they exchanged "4-6 emails." He said he not have access to the emails offhand but offered to share their content later.

Millian has also worked with Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government organization whose "fundamental" goal is to familiarize "young people from different countries" with Russian culture through exchange trips to Moscow. The FBI has investigated whether Rossotrudnichestvo is a front for the Russian government to cultivate "young, up-and-coming Americans as Russian intelligence assets" — a theory Rossotrudnichestvo has strongly denied.

Simpson mentioned Millian's work for Rossotrudnichestvo in his testimony, noting that the organization had landed on the FBI's radar for allegedly conducting recruiting operations. Last January, however, Millian told Mother Jones he "never got any business with Rossotrudnichestvo." He did not respond to requests from Business Insider to clarify.

Millian and the dossier

While Millian was not directly named in the version of the dossier that was published by BuzzFeed last January, he was "someone who was important," Simpson said.

ABC reported last January that a version of the dossier "provided to the FBI included Millian's name as a source." Millian has denied being either source "D" or "E" in the dossier. More doubt about Millian's connection to the dossier emerged in a Nov. 3, 2021 federal indictment that charged Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the Steele dossier, with lying to investigators about receiving information for the dossier from Millian.

Source D, according to the dossier, had been "present" for Trump's alleged "perverted conduct in Moscow."

Source E, meanwhile," acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform," according to the dossier.

Source E also claimed that the Trump campaign and Russia had moles in the Democratic Party; that US-based "cyber operators" were coordinating attacks on the DNC and Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta; and that these operators were being paid covertly via Russian "diplomatic staff" in "key" US cities via that Russia's emigre pension system.

The same source is quoted in the dossier as saying the Trump campaign was "relatively relaxed" about the attention on Trump's reported ties to Russia "because it deflected media and the Democrats' attention away from Trump's business dealings in China."

Millian has worked as the "vice president of the World Chinese Merchants Union Association" since 2015, according to his LinkedIn page. He wrote last April that he traveled to Beijing to meet with a Chinese official and the Russian ambassador to the Republic of San Marino.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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