Report claims Russia influenced Trump's rejection of Romney as secretary of state

Christina Gregg

A shocking memo authored by former spy Christopher Steele has recently come to light that reveals potential Kremlin influence over Donald Trump's decision-making in the months leading up to his assuming the Oval Office and U.S. presidency.

A lengthy New Yorker profile on the ex-MI6 operative delves into both Steele's past and current dealings with congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. One specific excerpt from the piece is raising eyebrows, and that surrounds a Russian source that claims the Kremlin had specific recommendations for who then President-elect Trump chose as his secretary of state.

This memo is reportedly based off of intelligence gathered from one specific "senior Russian official," who was passing along what he had heard in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria," Jane Mayer writes. "If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President."

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Despite the new Steele details unveiled in the New Yorker piece, there are multiple domestic reasons that would also explain Trump's selecting former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for the secretary of state position over Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor publically slammed Trump as a "phony" and "fraud" in early 2016 — statements that were met with fiery tweets from Trump. After Trump's 2016 election win, reports detailed throughout much of November and early December that Romney was in the running for the position of secretary of state. Romney and Trump were even spotted having a private dinner and meeting. Still, though, Trump allies like Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity were reportedly against the idea of Romney in the position and encouraged the 45th president to opt for someone else.

Romney recently announced his Senate bid for Orrin Hatch's seat in Utah. Trump was quick to endorse the 2012 presidential candidate via Twitter, saying he has his "full support."