In August 2016, Sergei Ivanov, Russian Head of Presidential Administration, expressed anger at the Kremlin team involved with the leaking of DNC emails and the wider pro-Trump operation. Ivanov believed they had gone too far with their “elephant in a china shop black PR,” and claimed he always opposed the handling and exploitation of intelligence by this PR team.
Dmitri Peskov said he was “scared shitless” that Putin would hold him personally responsible for US backlash against Russia for their political interference in the US election.
Russian Prime Minister Dimtriy Medvedev wanted to have good relations with the US, and was openly refusing to cover up for Peskov and others involved in the Trump operations. There was even talk within the Russian government of forcing Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential race altogether as a result of the backlash. They discussed grounds of his psychological state, and unsuitability for high office.
Political fallout from Russia’s intervention in the US election was a sensitive issue for Putin, who had been receiving conflicting advice from different groups: (1) Sergei Kislyak, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Yuri Ushakov, who urged caution and the negative impact on Russia; and (2) Sergei Ivanov and Russian Foreign Intelligence (SVR), who advised Putin that the operation would be effective, plausibly deniable, and would cause little blowback. Group (1) turned out to be right, so Putin unexpectedly fired Sergei Ivanov.
By October 2016, Russian leaders began to feel buyer’s remorse concerning Trump. They were surprised and disappointed that the leaks of Clinton’s hacked emails had not had a greater impact on the campaign.
Putin was angry that he was over-promised on Trump’s chance of winning, his reliability, and his ability to cover and/or contain US backlash over Kremlin interference. His anger appeared to fall on Sergei Lavrov.
Russian diplomat Mikhail Kulagin [sic, Kalugin] was withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation, including the “veterans’ pensions ruse” (where cash was allegedly moved to hackers and other operatives through a system that distributes pension benefits to Russian military veterans living in the US (source)), would be exposed in the US media.
Comments/Corroboration of Steele Dossier
On August 12, 2016, Vladimir Putin unexpectedly dismissed Sergei Ivanov as his chief of staff in a televised, choreographed meeting on Russian state television. Source
The television broadcasted dismissal was a hilarious farce, giving other, benign reasons for Ivanov’s dismissal.
On August 15, 2016, Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin left his position at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC and returned to Moscow. At the time of his departure, US investigators were examining whether he had a role in Russia’s payments to hackers for their efforts to help Trump. Source
US intelligence confirmed that they had identified Kalugin as a spy with either the SVR or GRU while he was still at the embassy, and that Kalugin was under surveillance before he left the US. Source
This report from the Embassy dated 8/15/2016 mentions Kalugin departing the Embassy.
Contrary to statements from Moscow, Kalugin was suspected of being a spy, and during his stint at the embassy, he didn’t meet with US State Dept. officials as would have been expected of a non-spy.