Will TRUMP EVEN LAST 90 More days in office?
Around the time of President Trump’s inauguration, two of his supporters met to toast the new administration at the Russia House, a Washington restaurant known among Russian diplomats and emigres for its vodka and caviar.
The Dupont Circle spot was suggested by Sergei Millian, according to onetime Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who said he met with the Belarus-born businessman there.
The get-together followed months of outreach Millian had made to the young aide — including offering him a lucrative consulting contract to work simultaneously for Trump and an unidentified Russian, which Papadopoulos said he rebuffed. FBI agents later pressed Papadopoulos about his relationship with Millian, Papadopoulos’s lawyers have said.
The interactions between the two men — the extent of which have not been reported previously — show how Millian, a self-described real estate developer who served as an unwitting source of information for former British spy Christopher Steele, was in closer proximity to Trump’s world than previously known.
As he was working to build a relationship with Papadopoulos in 2016, Millian also offered to serve as a conduit to the Trump campaign for a Belarusan author in Florida with connections to the Russian government, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.
The author, Mikhail Morgulis, who said he never ended up hearing from anyone in the campaign, later claimed that he rallied Russian Americans to back Trump.
The new details deepen the persistent mystery surrounding Millian, two years after he was identified as one of the unnamed sources in a campaign dossier Steele compiled for Democrats about Trump’s ties to Russia.
At the time, little was known about Millian’s connection to the New York developer, other than the fact that he said he had sold units at a Trump property in Florida years ago.
Millian, who has denied being a source for the dossier, has largely disappeared from public view, despite efforts by congressional investigators to interview him — taking with him potential answers about the president’s links to Russia and some of the dossier’s still-unproved claims.
The House and Senate intelligence committees have tried to interview Millian, according to people familiar with the panels’ work. Millian did not respond to the Senate committee, one person said. In a report issued last year, House Democrats said that Millian was unwilling to appear before their panel without being granted immunity and they called on Republicans to subpoena him. Now back in majority control, House Democrats said they plan to renew efforts to obtain his testimony.
“Sergei Millian remains someone of deep interest to our investigation,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, citing Millian’s “opaque business and personal history” and interactions with Papadopoulos.
It is unknown whether Millian has been interviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.
Millian, whose social media posts in recent months have included images recycled from years-old events, did not respond to requests for comment.
His exact role in Trump’s world remains elusive.
Was he a business associate with an insider’s perspective on the candidate’s business adventures in Moscow? A self-promoting braggart spinning false tales? A Russian intelligence operative?
Papadopoulos said he thinks Millian was working with the FBI to target the Trump campaign. But two people familiar with the FBI’s Russia investigation said that Millian was not working with the bureau during his interactions with Papadopoulos.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.
An acquaintance of Millian who exchanges texts with him and thinks he has been unfairly targeted by the media says he thinks Millian lives in New York, but is not sure.
“One time he sent me a photo. He was in Europe somewhere. He was on some bridge,” said Jeff Jetton, a Washington restaurateur and writer who befriended Millian shortly after his role in the dossier became public. “I don’t really question him about where he is. He doesn’t question me about where I am. I don’t really care.”
Millian, now 40, came to Steele’s attention after the firm Fusion GPS hired the former British intelligence officer in June 2016 to research Trump’s business history in Russia on behalf of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Born in Belarus and given the name Siarhei Kukuts, Millian went to college in Minsk, where a Russian-language version of his biography that he posted online said he trained to be a military translator.
He moved to Atlanta in the early 2000s, changed his name to Sergei Millian, and began working in real estate and professional translating, according to friends at the time and his biography. There, he founded a trade group called the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA, which gave him a platform to interact with business and government leaders in the United States and Russia.
It also boosted Millian’s profile. In 2011, he was invited to take part in a Russian government-backed effort to bring American entrepreneurs on visits to Moscow. The Post has previously reported that the FBI later investigated the trips as possible influence operations linked to Russian intelligence, although Millian was never implicated.
In his organization’s literature and elsewhere, Millian boasted of a relationship with Trump, saying that he had been engaged to sell apartments to rich Russians in the Trump Hollywood condo building in Florida.
On Facebook and in literature for his Russian chamber of commerce, he posted a photo of himself with Trump, snapped at a horse track in Miami in 2007 after he said “mutual associates” introduced them. It is unclear whether they met on any other occasion.
But in April 2016, Millian gave the Russian state-operated news organization RIA Novosti an eyebrow-raising interview. He claimed that after meeting Trump in Miami he went to New York and met Trump’s “right-hand man” — his personal lawyer Michael Cohen — and then signed a contract to sell Trump units in Florida.
“You can say that I was their exclusive broker,” he said, speaking in Russian. “Back then, in2007-2008, Russians by the dozens were buying apartments in Trump’s buildings in the USA.”
Asked in the Russian interview how often he spoke to Trump or his associates, Millian responded: “The last time was several days ago.”
In an interview in 2016 with ABC News, Millian claimed to have high-level contacts in the Russian government. He said he was “absolutely not” affiliated with Russian intelligence.
Cohen has denied meeting Millian and extending him a contract to sell Trump-branded condos. He said in a 2017 interview with The Post that Millian was a fraud who had no substantive connection to Trump or his company, and that the Miami photo was no different from hundreds that Trump took with fans each year.
“He is a total phony,” Cohen said at the time. “Anything coming out of this individual’s mouth is inaccurate and purely part of some deranged interest in having his name in the newspaper.”
Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign, as well as to bank fraud and to campaign finance violations. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to provide information to Mueller.
Cohen’s spokesman, Lanny Davis, declined to comment about Millian.
The Post has previously reported that in his research reports, Steele described Millian — who was identified in one report as “Source D” and in another as “Source E” — as a “close associate of Trump” who had given a “compatriot” information in