“Investigations by US government officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), of Christopher Steele’s (lead image, right) Russiagate dossier have identified Catherine Belton (left) as one of the targets for his fabrications. Belton was herself investigated as one of the journalists Steele recruited to plant his allegations of Russian interference days before the 2016 presidential election.
In her book Putin’s People, Belton repeats many of Steele’s allegations but she does not cite him or his consulting company Orbis as her source. Belton adds at the end of the book: “I’ll always be grateful to Chris [Steele] for his moral support.” After Belton’s book appeared in April 2020, Steele admitted to lawyers engaged in a London High Court lawsuit against him that Belton is “a friend, yes, she’s a friend”.
Fresh evidence revealed in the indictment issued by the US Department of Justice on September 16, shows that the FBI has concluded Steele was lying when he and his American accomplices planted false allegations of Russian election interference through several named intermediaries, including a Russian bank and Russian émigrés in the US,. The New York Times and The Atlantic were identified in last month’s US court papers as willing outlets for the fabrications. Earlier litigation by the Alfa Bank group in the US has identified five New York Times reporters and David Corn of Mother Jones as collaborators in the scheme.
Belton’s name, tagged with the note “London meeting”, has also surfaced in meeting notes taken at the State Department on October 11, 2016, when Steele met with Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland and a deputy, Kathleen Kavalec. Kavalec’s meeting notes, partially declassified, reveal that Steele’s allegations of Russian election interference followed a briefing of the same allegations at the FBI a month earlier, on September 19, 2016, by Michael Sussmann, a lawyer working in secret for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Sussmann is now charged with lying then to the FBI.
The Justice Department’s indictment says Sussmann was one of the plotters with Steele and others, including journalists, university academics, and IT experts in publishing false stories of Russian election interference; their plot aimed at hurting the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, by making it appear he was in cahoots with the Kremlin to hurt the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
“In or about late October 2016 – approximately one week before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election – multiple media outlets reported that U.S. government authorities had received and were investigating allegations concerning a purported secret channel of communications between the Trump Organization, owned by Donald J. Trump, and a particular Russian bank (‘Russian Bank-I’).”
The Kavalec notebook also reveals that Steele claimed there were “3 distinct channels” for this Russian operation “run by Kremlin, not FSB, Ivanov, Peskov, Putin.” In addition to accusing Alfa Bank as the first channel “Alfa-Trump-Kremlin-comms”, Steele told Nuland that Serge Millian, a Russian émigré businessman in the US, was the second; Carter Page, a wannabe Trump campaign adviser, was the third.
In the sequence of Kavalec’s notes. Steele told Nuland there were “hackers out of R[ussia] – acting in US – [payments out of the state] pension fund Miami consulate payments – implants. Operations Paige [sic], Millian (émigrés?), Manafort.” Steele then mentioned the London meeting with Belton whom he identified as “FT [Financial Times]”.
Reporting by Belton in the Financial Times followed days after her meeting was mentioned by Steele to Nuland. In Belton’s published report, she named Serge Millian as the channel Steele had alleged at State and the FBI. “Now, “ Belton claimed on November 1, one week before Election Day, “the US administration has formally accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the US electoral process through the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email servers, Mr Millian’s activities — and his ties to the Republican presidential nominee — are coming under increasing scrutiny.” Belton did not identify her sources for her allegations against Millian. She implied, however, that they were US intelligence agents and the FBI. “Mr Millian came on to the FBI’s radar”, Belton reported. “The FBI probe was part of a wake-up call for US intelligence over suspicions that Russia was activating networks long thought defunct after the end of the cold war.”
Millian avoided Belton for an interview and she reported. “He declined repeated requests for an interview and left the US for Asia on a business trip in early October.” Two weeks before, Steele had told Nuland, according to Kavalec’s transcript, Millian was “now in China.”
According to Belton, Millian had been a real estate broker for Trump, selling Trump organisation properties to Russians. Steele had told Nuland “real estate entities used for massive set of purchases by Russians. Set up espionage network in FL[orida] – to buy a lot of properties for POTUS [Trump’s] businesses through a R[ussian] brokage. 100’s of real estate transactions.”
Two months ago, on July 28, Belton was exposed as a liar and fabricator of her source material by her British publisher, HarperCollins. Settling the High Court case brought against them both by Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven of Alfa Bank, the publisher said there was “no significant evidence” for Belton’s allegations of KGB connections in the early careers of Fridman and Aven; and that she had failed to check her claims with Fridman and Aven before publishing them. The publisher agreed to delete Belton’s allegations from the book.
The terms of that settlement, and the ongoing High Court case in London, have stopped Macmillan, the US publisher of the book, from issuing the paperback edition, according to industry sources.
Once Belton’s allegations against the Alfa Bank group were abandoned by HarperCollins, lawyers for the remaining plaintiffs – Roman Abramovich, Rosneft and Shalva Chigirinsky – are now focusing on Belton’s acknowledged dependence on Steele – and on the fabrications Steele got Belton to print before the US election.” (Read more: John Helmer, 10/04/2021) (Archive)
(Republished in part, with permission.)