There must be an explanation for this plot twist, which appears to have come right out of a James Bond film. Maybe Casino Royale … the David Niven version, not the straightforward Daniel Craig reboot. According to a court filing from John Durham, the FBI turned Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko into a paid informant.
You know … the “pee tape” source. Techno Fog first covered the development late yesterday, emphasis in the original:
This motion provides new information on the details of Danchenko’s lies to the FBI, further information on how Special Counsel Mueller ignored Danchenko’s false statements, expected testimony from Clinton-connected executive Charles Dolan, and one crazy development.
But we’ll start with the the most damning development: Danchenko was on the FBI payroll as a confidential human source (CHS) from March 2017 through October 2020.
The purposes of making Danchenko a CHS should be quite clear. The Crossfire Hurricane investigation was plagued with problems from the outset. The reasons for opening the investigation were bunk. Those problems continued as the investigation went on, with claims of Trump/Russia collusion proven unverified or outright false. (Thus the targeting of Flynn for a Logan Act violation.)
That developed into the Carter Page FISA applications, first submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in October 2016, and which relied substantially on the Steele Dossiers (aka Steele Reports). The FISA applications were renewed three times – more on that later. Each application had its own problems, from FBI lawyers lying about Carter Page to the Court being generally misled.
Realizing its own misconduct, the FBI made Danchenko a paid CHS in March 2017 – just before the third FISA warrant was submitted in April 2017. This would allow Comey’s FBI to work directly with Danchenko in support of its counter-intelligence investigation against President Trump.
Danchenko being a CHS also served another purpose: it protected the Bureau and the Mueller Special Counsel from revealing their “sources and methods.” How do you hide misconduct? Bury the witness.
Mr. Fog (as it were) has much more at the link, so be sure to read it all. John Solomon connected more dots at Just the News later in the evening off of Durham’s revelation:
The revelation means that the FBI first fired former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, the author of the Hillary Clinton-funded dossier, as a human source in November 2016 for having unauthorized contacts with the news media. And it then turned around a few months later and hired Steele’s primary informer to work with the bureau even after determining some of Danchenko’s statements in the Steele dossier were uncorroborated or exaggerated.
Even more stunning, Durham confirmed that the FBI had concerns about Danchenko’s ties to Russian intelligence a decade earlier, opening up a counterintelligence probe on him after learning he was trying to buy classified information from the Obama administration.
That part had already been made public. I wrote about it in November of last year when Danchenko got arrested. It’s not clear whether that ever got officially confirmed until now, but Durham’s filing acknowledges that it was widely reported at the time.
However, Durham now accuses the FBI of overlooking that past and even more recent ‘troubling behavior,’ as Solomon puts it:
“During his January 2017 interview with the FBI, the defendant initially denied having any contact with Russian intelligence or security services but later — as noted by the agents, contradicted himself and stated that he had contact with two individuals who he believed to be connected to those services,” Durham wrote.
The filing asked the court for permission to use evidence at trial of other lies that Danchenko allegedly told the FBI that are not charged as part of his indictment. The prosecutor argued the new evidence would show a pattern and how Danchenko’s deception led to false narratives in the Steele dossier and the news media, including the salacious and untrue allegation that Trump had consorted with prostitutes in Moscow.
Durham plans to show the jury evidence that Danchenko made “uncharged false statements to the FBI regarding his purported receipt of information reflecting Donald’s Trump’s alleged salacious sexual activity at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow,” the filing said.
What does this mean? It appears that Durham could argue that the FBI hired Danchenko as an operative to bolster the Russian-collusion charges that were going nowhere fast. That’s the point Techno Fog makes — that the FBI’s interest in Danchenko was political as well as self-serving, and that they deliberately used an unreliable source to push for surveillance and search warrants that should never have been granted in the first place.
And Durham may make this look even worse. Back to Techno Fog:
We brought up Mueller back at the introduction, and here’s why. Steele relayed information to the Mueller Special Counsel about the Millian/Danchenko meetings that they knew was false. Similarly, Danchenko revealed information that Steele’s reporting was false. What did Team Mueller do with that information? They hid it from the FISA Court and from the public. Danchenko continued as a CHS throughout Mueller’s service as Special Counsel. Danchenko couldn’t be touched because of his status as CHS, thus protecting Mueller and the FBI.
This could collapse what’s left of the FBI’s standing on Capitol Hill and among the American public, if Durham can make that case stick. It will cast the entire Russia-collusion hysteria as a deeply politicized effort to kneecap a presidency using the FBI’s mix of intelligence and law-enforcement powers. If Republicans take over either or both chambers of Congress, the trial of Danchenko and Durham’s continued investigations will be the least of Christopher Wray’s problems.
Finally, one has to wonder what else Durham may be pursuing. Even after all this time, it may be too soon to write him off.