Former MI6 spy Christopher Steele has reportedly told special counsel Robert Mueller that he believes the Russian government directly intervened to block President Donald Trump from appointing Mitt Romney as his secretary of state.
In a New Yorker profile of Steele published Monday, reporter Jane Mayer writes that Steele — who authored the infamous Fusion GPS dossier alleging deep ties between President Donald Trump and the Russian government — wrote a memo in late 2016 claiming that Russia worked to stop then-President elect Trump from making noted Russia hawk Romney his chief diplomat.
“This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as ‘a senior Russian official,’” writes Mayer. “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.”
As Mayer notes, however, Trump had plenty of reasons to reject Romney as his secretary of state other than his views on Russia, including Romney’s own blistering criticism of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump did eventually pass over Romney and instead named former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his top diplomat.