There was rumors that Mitt Romney might be chosen to serve as President Trump’s Secretary of State. Instead, Trump chose Rex Tillerson, an oil executive so cozy with Russia that Putin awarded him Russia’s Order of Friendship medal in 2013. Tillerson has turned out to be a disastrous appointment and has gutted much of the once-formidable State Department, which is terrible for the United States but helpful for Russia in that it diminishes America’s influence in the world.
Now, it appears that the Kremlin may have been responsible for Romney not becoming Secretary of State. The New Yorker reports that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the infamous dossier on Donald Trump, also created a separate memo with a Russian government official.
In it, the official alleged that other officials working in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed responsibility for blocking Romney from the State Department appointment.
The Russians said they utilized “unspecified channels” to get clandestine orders to the Trump administration to reject Romney in favor of a Secretary who be more amenable to Russian interests. They wanted Trump to pick someone who would be willing to lift sanctions on the Russian Federation and allow Putin’s forces to operate in Syria without opposition.
While the allegation is shocking, it does seem entirely plausible. Trump himself has refused to enact new sanctions on Russia even after the measures were passed overwhelmingly by Congress. He’s also repeatedly refuse to grapple with the fact that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and often publicly casts doubt on the Intelligence Community’s findings.