Former British spy Christopher Steele blamed Russia tried to block Mitt Romney from becoming secretary of state, The New Yorker says in a new report. Following President Donald Trump‘s election, Romney was widely reported to be in the running for secretary of state, but Rex Tillerson was ultimately chosen for the position.

According to The New Yorker, Steele wrote, in addition to his infamous dossier, a second memo shortly after the 2016 election. He is believed to have discussed it with special counsel Robert Mueller. That memo reportedly featured a single “senior Russian official” who told Steele that there was chatter within Russia’s foreign ministry that Russia had effectively blocked Romney’s appointment as Secretary of State.

“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.”

That memo suggests that Russia had actually done something with the leverage it allegedly had over Trump — It had blocked the appointment of a secretary of state who had made a hawkish stance on Russia one of his key policy positions when he ran for president in 2012. Tillerson, who was eventually named secretary of state, was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin in 2013.


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On Monday, Romney were asked by KSL-TV about the claim from The New Yorker. “I don’t know what the president’s process was in determining his secretary of state, or why he chose to ask me to come in, or decided not to have me as his secretary of state. So, I really can’t comment on the Steele dossier in that regard,” Romney said. He added, “I do believe it’s pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Vladimir Putin’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not a fan of mine either.”

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