Framing Millian

Framing Millian
Sergei Millian at the 2018 Horasis conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, in October 2018. (Sergei Millian)
Hans Mahncke
The Epoch Times presents the third part of an exclusive edited extract from the forthcoming book “Swiftboating America” by Hans Mahncke, co-host of Truth over News on EpochTV. Sign up at to get a notification once the book is out.

Why have Steele’s dossier lies been so successful? Why have they persisted? To understand this, we need to go beyond the media and intelligence community that covered both for Christopher Steele and, more recently, for Biden. They can only do so much without a good narrative. And a good narrative is what Hillary Clinton’s Swiftboat project gave them. The Clinton campaign did not just put out a story for the media to parrot. They had worked out a meticulous plan with many moving parts and layer upon layer of complexity and deniability. They used a former British intelligence officer to give the story a veneer of credibility. They also used compromised members of the media to advance both the overall narrative and specific parts of it. One of those parts was the framing of Sergei Millian, which ranks as perhaps the most egregious episode of the entire Russiagate affair.

As his longtime friend from New York described him to me, Millian had been a gregarious character who enjoyed life. But that changed after Hillary Clinton’s operatives put him through hell. He became wary. The wary Millian is the one I got to know. Millian and I first connected online where I was posting my research on Russiagate. He could see that I understood that he was framed. But it still took a while to gain his trust. When you have been framed as the fall guy in an elaborate scheme to take down the president of the United States, your default position is not to trust anyone. Only now that Special Counsel John Durham’s report has fully and publicly exonerated him of any involvement in the Russiagate affair has Millian shaken off the shackles of the relentless stream of false accusations that he endured.

Originally from Belarus, a former satellite state of the Soviet Union, Millian first came to the United States in his early 20s, having been offered a scholarship. He speaks six languages, so it is not surprising he ended up taking a job as a translator in Atlanta. Millian became an American citizen and later moved to New York. He also started a real estate business, which is how he briefly got into the Trump Organization’s orbit in the mid-2000s. Like any real estate agent, Millian made sure to let people know he had sold Trump apartments. There was nothing nefarious about that, but it would end up being used against him.

Millian’s problems began in April 2016, when he gave an interview to Russian media outlet RIA Novosti about why he supported Donald Trump for president. Because he had represented the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce and been interviewed many times before, including a prominent Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo in 2014, the RIA Novosti interview was nothing unusual for him. But as Millian recounts, it is what kicked off the Clinton operatives’ interest in him.

“Imagine,” he told me, “you have been instructed to create a false narrative about Trump and Russia. The first thing you would do is an internet search on ‘Trump Russia.’ And one of the first results might have been my interview with RIA Novosti. Even if it wasn’t the first result, the name Millian would have come up pretty quickly in a search for Trump and Russia.” Millian’s business required him to be highly visible.

All that Clinton’s Swiftboat operatives needed was someone with a Russian-sounding name who could be tied to Trump. The fact that Millian had once sold Trump condominiums was helpful, as was the fact that he publicly supported Trump’s run for president. Everything else could be made up and falsely pinned on Millian.

Glenn Simpson, the Clinton campaign contractor who had hired Steele to come up with fake Trump–Russia collusion reports, had also hired his own researcher, Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr, who was then a high-ranking United States Department of Justice official. Nellie Ohr’s task was to find connections between Trump and Russia, and she was the first to come up with the name Sergei Millian. Simpson then passed the name Millian to Steele, who in turn tasked his own operative, Igor Danchenko, with framing Millian.

Danchenko tried to parallel construct his supposed identification of Millian by claiming that he had gotten the name from the same RIA Novosti reporters who had interviewed Millian in April 2016. Simpson, who appears to have been read in on the parallel construction plan, falsely claimed in his 2019 book, “Crime in Progress,” that it was Steele who first told Simpson about Millian. But the timeline does not support this narrative. Ohr’s first report on Millian is dated April 22, 2016. Steele told a London court that he was tasked by Simpson during a meeting they had at Heathrow Airport in May 2016, which was followed up by a phone call from Simpson, in which Steele was formally hired. In truth, Nellie Ohr was already writing reports on Millian before either Steele or Danchenko arrived on the scene. Accusing the RIA Novosti reporters of having kicked off the Clinton campaign’s interest in Millian was yet another instance of blaming innocent Russians for the misdeeds of Clinton operatives.

Even worse, through her husband Bruce, Ohr passed her Millian reports—she ended up writing twelve—to the FBI. Knowing that Steele would separately accuse Millian, Ohr created the false impression of a second source stream, the idea that someone else, other than Steele, had independently identified Millian as a Trump–Russia collusion conduit. Nothing was left to chance; such was the sophistication of the Swiftboat operation.

As luck would have it, Bruce Ohr was also a close friend of Steele’s, a fact that proved helpful later in 2016 when the FBI found out that Steele had leaked his false dossier stories to the media. This was a big problem because the FBI had vouched for Steele in front of the FISA court and so they had no choice but to formally cut ties with Steele in his role as an FBI source. Operationally, it did not matter though, as they still had Bruce Ohr as an informal conduit by which Steele and the FBI kept communicating.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, by July 2016, Millian was being used by the Ohrs, Steele, and Simpson to build a false Trump–Russia collusion narrative. Nellie Ohr was pushing her reports to the FBI, as was Steele. As for Simpson, he tasked ABC News’ Michael Mosk and Brian Ross with setting up an interview with Millian under a false pretext. The idea was to use edited footage from the interview in Clinton campaign ads. These ads would create an additional vehicle for pushing the false narrative that Millian was involved in Trump–Russia collusion. Mosk reached out to Millian on July 5, 2016. Being no stranger to interview requests, Millian agreed to talk to ABC News, but, as he was on his way to Asia for business meetings, the interview was scheduled for July 29, after Millian’s return to New York.

Meanwhile, Steele’s part of the plan was to place Millian in a room with Danchenko in the days ahead of the interview. This was crucial as you cannot plausibly claim that someone said something unless you are able to place that person in the same room as your purported source. If, however, you can place two people in the same location at the same time, the worst outcome is a he said, she said situation, which was more than good enough for Steele’s purposes. Steele and Danchenko could claim that Millian talked about Trump–Russia collusion, and if Millian ever found out that words had been put in his mouth, it would be much too late to change the course of history, which at that point was supposed to have been a Hillary Clinton election victory.

Danchenko emailed Millian on July 21, under the false pretext of representing a construction company in Switzerland that was supposedly looking for investors. He was hoping to bait Millian with the prospect of a lucrative project. Danchenko sent a second email on Aug. 18, this time falsely pitching a project in Moscow.

Danchenko’s modus operandi was extremely sloppy. Why would Danchenko email Millian, a person he had never met or spoken to, with lucrative business deals? The whole thing had a distinct Nigerian prince ring to it. Millian wisely ignored the messages. Millian later told me that one of the immediate clues that something wasn’t right was Danchenko’s suggestion in his first email that the two men meet over a few beers. No serious business inquiry would mention meeting over beers. Millian had smelled a rat and he was right.

Even though Danchenko never received a reply, on July 26, he traveled from his home in Northern Virginia to New York and tried to find Millian at his office. He stayed until July 28. The timing of Danchenko’s trip is noteworthy as Millian’s ABC interview was scheduled for July 29. The goal of the Swiftboat collaborators was to frame Millian in person ahead of his ABC interview. Perhaps they felt that if Danchenko didn’t meet Millian ahead of the ABC interview, Millian would become suspicious and not agree to meet. They were right to be worried. Seeing ABC’s unaired footage of himself being featured in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad would undoubtedly have raised a lot of suspicions on Millian’s part. However, despite carefully planning his trip to New York, Danchenko failed to find Millian and returned to Virginia empty-handed.

Notwithstanding Danchenko’s failure to meet Millian in person, Steele went ahead with using Millian as a source. Steele’s infamous Report 95, in which Steele cited Millian as having confessed that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Donald Trump and the Russian government, was drafted on July 28. Report 95 also claimed that Millian, whom Steele called Source E, had admitted that Russia had passed hacked Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks. This was vitally important as the Clinton campaign had just started to put out the message that Russia was responsible for the hack and leak operation.

Steele must have known that his story about Millian’s supposed revelations was completely untenable, especially if he couldn’t place his own source in the same room as Millian. But he had no choice but to forge ahead. The Clinton campaign was already running with the hack story, and other parts of the Swiftboat project—such as the false story that Trump was communicating with the Kremlin via Russia’s Alfa Bank—were about to be unveiled.

The fact that Danchenko never met Millian would later prove to be the undoing of Steele, who had attributed almost every major false dossier claim to Millian. Without Millian, the entire dossier would collapse. The fact that Steele was not undone immediately is owed to the FBI, which incredibly never bothered to verify Steele’s impossible story about Millian. It wasn’t until our group, including Stephen McIntyre, Fool Nelson, and Walkafyre, exposed the fraud that the truth slowly started to seep out in July 2020.

The FBI could have very easily blown up Steele’s fairy tales four years ahead of us, if only they had wanted to. Immigration records would have shown that Millian was out of the country when Danchenko allegedly met him. Even more incredibly, Steele had cited Millian as a source for an earlier report, Report 80, dated June 20, 2016, which was more than a month before Danchenko reached out to Millian.

By the time Danchenko was interviewed by the FBI in January 2017, Steele started to panic, knowing that his entire construct of lies would fall apart. Steele sent a stream of messages to Bruce Ohr, insisting that Danchenko’s life was in grave danger. Steele knew that Danchenko would likely have no choice but to disavow the Millian story if pressed by the FBI. By claiming that Danchenko’s life was under threat, he hoped to get the FBI to disregard whatever Danchenko said and to conclude that he was only saying it to protect himself.

Steele’s panic was completely unnecessary. What he probably did not realize at the time was that the FBI had an even bigger incentive to cover up Steele’s lies than Steele himself did. Based on Steele’s lies, the FBI had already spent six months investigating the campaign of the person who had become president of the United States, including dishonestly obtaining a FISA warrant on campaign aide Carter Page and spying on the incoming National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. The FBI had to keep Steele’s lies alive if they didn’t want their entire investigation exposed as a fraud.

Read here part one and part two.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.