Eli Lake: The Danchenko indictment shows the Democratic Party manipulated the FBI

(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Ed wrote yesterday about the indictment of Igor Danchenko, Christopher Steele’s primary source for the infamous dossier alleging collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. At the time Ed wrote about it, the full indictment wasn’t available but now it is. What it conveys over 39 pages is that Dachenko lied repeatedly to the FBI when he was interviewed about the sources of his information. Eli Lake argued yesterday that John Durham’s indictments thus far paint a picture of an FBI that was being intentionally manipulated by the Democratic Party both before and after the 2016 election.

It’s been clear for nearly two years that Steele’s dossier was garbage. This is mainly thanks to the work of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who released a report in 2019 skewering the FBI for its use of the dossier in its warrant applications, concluding that the bureau could not confirm any of its original reporting. The main takeaway from the Horowitz investigation was that the FBI cut corners and gamed the surveillance court.

Durham’s investigation has taken a different approach. His last two indictments suggest that the FBI was not a villain but a victim, conned by Democratic operatives to pursue bogus investigations into the Trump campaign.

Durham’s first indictment of lawyer Michael Sussman claimed Sussman had gone to the FBI and denied working with the Clinton campaign then turned around and billed the campaign for his time talking with the FBI. His second indictment claims that Danchenko also lied to the FBI about his connection to another Democratic party figure who is identified in the indictment as  “public relations executive 1.”

This unnamed executive is Charles Dolan Jr., a senior strategist at KGlobal, his lawyer has now confirmed…

According to the indictment, Dolan was likely the source for several items in the dossier. This undermines one of the central claims in the initial coverage of the dossier — that it was well-sourced Kremlin intelligence from a respected professional. It turns out that much of it was rumor conveyed in part by a Democratic partisan.

In fact, the indictment makes clear that Dolan wasn’t the only Democratic partisan involved in the creation of the dossier. Danchenko introduced Dolan to someone referred to as “Russian Sub Source 1.” Over several months they all bonded over their mutual admiration for Hillary Clinton:

DANCHENKO brokered a meeting between [Dolan] and Russian Sub-Source-1 to discuss a potential business relationship. Thereafter, PR Firm-1 and Business-1 entered a contractual relationship…

During the same time period, Russian Sub-Source-1 and [Dolan] communicated regularly via social media, telephone, and other means. In these communications and others, Russian Subsource-1 and [Dolan] discussed their political views and their support for Hillary Clinton.

For example, during July 2016 meetings in Country-1, [Dolan] gifted to Russian Sub-Source-1 an autobiography of Hillary Clinton, which he signed and inscribed with the handwritten message, “To my good friend [first name of Russian Sub-Source-1], A Great Democrat.”…

On or about July 22, 2016, [Dolan] sent an email to Russian Sub-Source- I and informed Russian Sub-Source-1 that he would be attending a reception for Hillary Clinton. Shortly thereafter, Russian Sub-Source-1 responded: “[T]ell her please she [Clinton] has a big fan in [Country-!]. Can I please ask you to sign for me her (anything).”

The indictment goes on to describe two emails in which Russian Sub-Source 1 commented that if Hillary won the election, his friend Dolan would take him “off to the State Department [to handle] issues of the former USSR.” Maybe he was just daydreaming but the indication is that he thought Dolan could help him ride the Clinton train to glory. This is one of the people contributing information to the supposedly professional and not-at-all partisan Steele dossier.

Other information in the dossier was solicited and gathered directly from Dolan. The indictment contains an email that Danchenko sent to Dolan in August 2016 asking about Paul Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign. Notice how Danchenko describes the project he is working on: [emphasis in original]

Could you please ask someone to comment on [Campaign Manager- 1 ‘s] resignation and anything on Trump campaign? Off the record of course! Any thought, rumor, allegation. I am working on a related project against Trump. I asked [PR Executive-l’s acquaintance] three months ago but he didn’t say much although shared a couple of valuable insights. Thanks a lot!

Best,

Igor

That project was of course the Steele dossier. Dolan responded to the request from Danchenko by claiming that he’d “had a drink with a GOP friend” who gave him some info. That info was passed to Danchenko and then immediately to Christopher Steele who included it in the very next section of the dossier. Only as the indictment notes, Dolan made up the GOP friend. He got his information from public news stories. And yet, when the FBI interviewed Danchenko, he denied having gotten any of his information from Dolan.

Another tip that may have come from Dolan was one about Trump staying in the presidential suite of the Moscow Hotel. It seems Dolan was the one who learned about that from a hotel staffer, though the staffer didn’t say anything about prostitutes or weird sexual activity. Dolan then had lunch with Danchenko who, again, became Steele’s major source and would later tell the FBI the whole “pee tape” story was a rumor.

So, to sum up just this one piece of the story, Steele was being paid by Fusion who was being paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. His primary source Danchenko was gathering information from a Russian national who was a Clinton stan and another Clinton crony, Dolan, who was laundering his own claims as coming from a GOP friend who didn’t exist. Then all of this was further laundered as non-partisan intelligence and handed to the FBI (multiple times) by people who lied about having any partisan impulses or motives even though they had privately referred to the effort as a “project against Trump.”

All that to say, I think Eli Lake is correct about Durham’s indictments painting the FBI as something of a victim of a very deceitful Democratic operation. And as we all know, the media and the professional left ran the legs off this progressive conspiracy theory for more than two years.