A contributing writer for the Washington Monthly has proposed that a Russian diplomat was removed from Washington because of his connections to the Russian government's alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election, which was spelled out in a former British spy's unsubstantiated dossier on Trump.
"To the extent that holds for the investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign cooperated with Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, a guy by the name of Mikhail Kalugin -- head of the Economics Section of the Russian Embassy in the U.S. at the time -- is a critical piece of the puzzle," wrote Washington Monthly contributing writer Nancy LeTourneau.
LeTourneau points to the controversial dossier, which mentions Kalugin by name, albeit misspelled:
…a senior Russian MFA official reported that as a prophylactic measure, a leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail Kulagin, has been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation, including the so-called veterans’ pension ruse (reported previously), would be exposed in the media there.
The "veterans' pension ruse" is allegedly how the Russian hackers were paid, LeTourneau writes, based on the unsubstantiated dossier from a former British spy who was once paid to find harmful information about Trump, according to several news sources, including Reuters.
Meanwhile, Kalugin told McClatchy that he had nothing to do with the 2016 presidential election and wanted American journalists "to stop once and for all the continuous stream of lies and fake news about my person."
But Kalugin was called back to Russia in August, amidst allegations that the Russian government was interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Therefore, LeTourneau writes, there must be some connection.
"All of this points to the idea that U.S. intelligence was pretty deeply involved in investigating this story -- and as the Steele documents indicate -- the Russians knew it," she writes. "Getting Kalugin out of the country would have been a way to ensure that his secrets left with him."
McClatchy reported that Kalugin has said that his move back to Moscow had been planned for at least six months.
The dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and includes salacious allegations about Trump, is officially unsubstantiated by U.S. intelligence sources as a whole and has been disproved in parts by American media outlets.
But some parts have turned out to be true, including Trump campaign officials speaking with Russian government officials, according to CNN.