That stands in sharp contrast to the video, which led to the ouster of Mr. Skuratov, helped Vladimir V. Putin establish himself as the successor to Mr. Yeltsin and, ultimately, enabled Mr. Chaika to ascend to the prosecutor general’s office.
In Russia, said Thomas Rid, a scholar of intelligence history at King’s College London, “there’s an appreciation that information is power, and having information that somebody considers very private information is even more powerful.”
Mr. Skuratov has insisted all along that he was not the man in the tape. But Mr. Chaika, after becoming acting prosecutor general in 1999, endorsed the video’s authenticity, saying it showed a “legal basis” to open an investigation.
News media coverage in Russia was relentless, with state television going so far as to interview one of the women in the video. “He is a good uncle,” she said, in a final twist of the knife. “I feel sorry for him.”
In the current case, Rob Goldstone, the former British tabloid journalist and music promoter who arranged the Trump Tower meeting, had written in an email to Donald Trump Jr. that Ms. Veselnitskaya would bring information from Mr. Chaika that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton.
What that information was is still not known. But at the time, Mr. Chaika was trying to push back against an American sanctions law, the Magnitsky Act, in part by trying to discredit an American-born businessman, William J. Browder, who had lobbied for its passage. At least some of the information seemed to concern accusations of tax evasion by prominent Democratic donors involved with Mr. Browder.
Mr. Chaika made the same accusations in a statement on his website and in documents handed to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, when he was in Moscow. In an interview, Mr. Rohrabacher said using the information in opposition research against the Democrats in the presidential campaign had never crossed his mind. “That’s a big…