The author of the Trump dossier wrote a private memo in November 2016 that says Russia is claiming credit for getting president-elect Trump to reject Mitt Romney as his secretary of state, according to a new report.
The New Yorker interviewed Trump dossier author Christopher Steele, who told the publication that he wrote a private memo describing this claim, which came from a "senior Russian official."
"The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump's initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney," the New Yorker reported Monday.
"The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria," it said. "If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming president."
The New Yorker said that as "fantastical" as this sounds, Trump did seem to consider Romney before rejecting him in December, 2016. It also said Romney was "notably hawkish" on Russia."
But the New Yorker also said there are "plenty of domestic political reasons" for Trump to reject Romney, such as Romney's outspoken opposition to Trump during the campaign.
The dossier author, Steele, wrote an unverified series of memos on Trump that later became a basis for surveillance against a former Trump aide, Carter Page, according to congressional Republicans. The GOP has argued that the dossier was an attempt by Democrats and Hillary Clinton's campaign to gather intelligence against Trump in order to get the Obama administration to surveil Trump's campaign and sow distrust against Trump.