Eric Ciaramella, whom Real Clear Investigations suggests is the likely so-called whistleblower, received emails about Ukraine policy from a top director at George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.
The emails informed Ciaramella and a handful of other Obama administration foreign policy officials about Soros’s whereabouts, the contents of Soros’s private meetings about Ukraine and a future meeting the billionaire activist was holding with the prime minister of Ukraine.
A primary recipient of the Open Society emails along with Ciaramella was then-Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who played a central role in the anti-Trump dossier affair. Nuland, with whom Ciaramella worked closely, received updates on Ukraine issues from dossier author Christopher Steele in addition to her direct role in facilitating the dossier within the Obama administration.
The emails spotlight Soros’s access to national security officials under the Obama administration on the matter of Ukraine. In one instance, Jeff Goldstein, senior policy analyst for Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations, sent a June 9, 2016 email to Nuland and Ciaramella, who were the missive’s primary recipients.
CC’d were three other State Department officials involved in European affairs, including Alexander Kasanof who worked at the U.S. embassy in Kiev.
The message read:
I wanted to let you know that Mr. Soros met with Johannes Hahn in Brussels earlier today. One of the issues he raised was concern over the decision to delay the visa liberalization for Georgia and the implications for Ukraine.
The email revealed that “GS” – meaning Soros – “is also meeting [Georgian] President [Giorgi] Margvelashvili today and speaking with PM Groyman,” referring to Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
The email stated that Soros told Hahn “that Ukrainian civil society is concerned that without reciprocity from the EU for steps Ukraine has taken to put in place sensitive anti-corruption and anti-discrimination legislation and institutions it will not be possible to continue to use the leverage of EU instruments and policies to maintain pressure for reforms in the future.”
Soros also “urged Hahn to advocate with member states to move ahead with visa liberalization for Ukraine,” the email related.
“I’m sure you’ve been working this issue hard; if you have any thoughts on how this is likely to play out or where particular problems lie I’d appreciate if you could let us know,” the email concluded.
Goldstein’s email text sent to Nuland and Ciaramella was not addressed to any one individual. Nuland replied that she would be happy to discuss the issues by phone. Goldstein set up a phone call and wrote that Soros specifically asked that an employee from the billionaire’s “personal office” join the call with Nuland.
The email was released last August as part of a separate Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Citizens United. The FOIA request was unrelated to Ciaramella.
Johannes Hahn, referenced in the emails as meeting with Soros about Ukraine, is the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. In 2015, Hahn participated with Nuland in the YES Summit, which bills itself as “the leading public diplomacy platform in Eastern Europe.” Another summit participant was Vadym Pozharskyi, a board advisor to Burisma, the Ukranian natural gas company at the center of the impeachment trial and the allegations related to Hunter and Joe Biden.
On scores of occasions, Hahn was a featured speaker at roundtables and other events produced by the Atlantic Council think tank, which is funded by and works in partnership with Burisma. The Atlantic Council is also financed by Soros’s Open Society Foundations and has been in the news for ties to various actors associated with the impeachment issue.
In one of several instances, Breitbart News reported, itinerary for a trip to Ukraine in August organized by the Atlantic Council reveals that a staffer on Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a meeting during the trip with Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, now a key witness for Democrats pursuing impeachment. The Schiff staffer is also an Atlantic Council fellow, while Taylor has evidenced a close relationship with the Atlantic Council.
Breitbart News previously reported on other emails that show Ciaramella worked closely with Nuland. Nuland has come under repeated fire for her various roles in the anti-Trump dossier controversy.
In their book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, authors and reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write that Nuland gave the green light for the FBI to first meet with Steele regarding his dossier’s claims. It was at that meeting that Steele initially reported his dossier charges to the FBI, the book relates.
FBI notes cite career Justice Department official Bruce Ohr as saying that Nuland was in touch with Fusion GPS co-founder and dossier producer Glenn Simpson.
Sen. John McCain, who infamously delivered the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey, reportedly first dispatched an aide, David J. Kramer, to inquire with Nuland about the dossier claims.
Meanwhile, looped into some other email chains with Ciaramella was then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s chief of staff at the State Department, John Finer.
An extensive New Yorker profile of Steele named Finer as obtaining the contents of a two-page summary of the dossier and eventually deciding to share the questionable document with Kerry. Finer reportedly received the dossier summary from Jonathan M. Winer, the Obama State Department official who acknowledged regularly interfacing and exchanging information with Steele, according to the report. Winer previously conceded that he shared the dossier summary with Nuland.
After his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the dossier, Winer authored a Washington Post oped in which he conceded that while he was working at the State Department he exchanged documents and information with Steele. Winer further acknowledged that while at the State Department, he shared anti-Trump material with Steele passed to him by longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, whom Winer described as an “old friend.” Winer wrote that the material from Blumenthal – which Winer in turn gave to Steele – originated with Cody Shearer, who is a controversial figure long tied to various Clinton scandals.
In testimony last year, Nuland made statements about a meeting at the State Department in October 2016 between State officials and Steele, but said that she didn’t participate.
At a June 2018 hearing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) revealed contents of the State Department’s visitor logs while he was grilling Nuland. At the hearing, Burr asked: “I know you talked extensively with our staff relative to Mr. Steele. Based upon our review of the visitor logs of the State Department, Mr. Steele visited the State Department briefing officials on the dossier in October of 2016. Did you have any role in that briefing?”
“I did not,” Nuland replied. “I actively chose not to be part of that briefing.”
“But were you aware of that briefing?” Burr asked.
“I was not aware of it until afterwards,” Nuland retorted.
Nuland did not explain how she can actively chose not to be part of Steele’s briefing, as she claimed, yet say she was unaware of the briefing until after it occurred. Nuland was not asked about the discrepancy during the public section of the testimony, which was reviewed in full by Breitbart News.
Nuland previously served as chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott under Bill Clinton’s administration, and then served as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs.
Nuland faced confirmation questions prior to her most recent appointment as assistant secretary of state over her reported role in revising controversial Obama administration talking points about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. Her reported changes sought to protect Hillary Clinton’s State Department from accusations that it failed to adequately secure the woefully unprotected U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi.
A RealClearInvestigations report by investigative journalist and author Paul Sperry named Ciaramella as best fitting the description of the so-called whistleblower.
Officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings say Ciaramella’s name has been raised in private in impeachment depositions and during at least one House open hearing that was not part of the formal impeachment proceedings.
Federal documents show Ciaramella also worked closely with Joe Biden and worked under Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser. He also worked with former CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump advocate who has faced controversy for his role in fueling the questionable Russia collusion investigation. Rice participated in Russia collusion probe meetings and reportedly unmasked senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Sperry cites former White House officials saying Ciaramella worked for Biden on Ukrainian policy issues in 2015 and 2016, encompassing the time period for which Biden has been facing possible conflict questions for leading Ukraine policy in light of Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma.
Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, the activist attorneys representing the so-called whistleblower, refused to confirm on deny that their secretive client is indeed Ciaramella.
“We neither confirm nor deny the identity of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower,” the lawyers told the Washington Examiner in response to an inquiry about Ciaramella.
Zaid and Bakaj added, “Our client is legally entitled to anonymity. Disclosure of the name of any person who may be suspected to be the whistleblower places that individual and their family in great physical danger. Any physical harm the individual and/or their family suffers as a result of disclosure means that the individuals and publications reporting such names will be personally liable for that harm. Such behavior is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless.”
Soros funding and ‘whistleblower’ complaint
Besides Burisma funding, the Atlantic Council is also financed by Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Google, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., and the U.S. State Department. Google, Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Fund, and an agency of the State Department each also finance a self-described investigative journalism organization repeatedly referenced as a source of information in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint alleging Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 presidential race.
The charges in the July 22 report referenced in the so-called whistleblower’s document and released by the Google and Soros-funded organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), seem to be the public precursors for a lot of the so-called whistleblower’s own claims, as Breitbart News documented.
One key section of the so-called whistleblower’s document claims that “multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelensky advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov.”
This was allegedly to follow up on Trump’s call with Zelensky in order to discuss the “cases” mentioned in that call, according to the so-called whistleblower’s narrative. The complainer was clearly referencing Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate the Biden corruption allegations.
Even though the statement was written in first person – “multiple U.S. officials told me” – it contains a footnote referencing a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
That footnote reads:
In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019 and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelensky adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.
The so-called whistleblower’s account goes on to rely upon that same OCCRP report on three more occasions. It does so to:
Write that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko “also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters.”
Document that Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani “had spoken in late 2018 to former Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr. Giuliani.”
Bolster the charge that, “I also learned from a U.S. official that ‘associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team.” The so-called whistleblower then relates in another footnote, “I do not know whether these associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July report by OCCRP, referenced above.”
The OCCRP report repeatedly referenced is actually a “joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine.”
BuzzFeed infamously also first published the full anti-Trump dossier alleging unsubstantiated collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and was produced by the Fusion GPS opposition dirt outfit.
The OCCRP and BuzzFeed “joint investigation” resulted in both OCCRP and BuzzFeed publishing similar lengthy pieces on July 22 claiming that Giuliani was attempting to use connections to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rivals. The so-called whistleblower’s document, however, only mentions the largely unknown OCCRP and does not reference BuzzFeed, which has faced scrutiny over its reporting on the Russia collusion claims.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.