The shadowy Russian operative who was allegedly the key source for the discredited Steele dossier that may have helped spur the FBI’s Trump-Russia collusion probe was put on the bureau’s payroll despite prior concerns he was an agent of Moscow, according to Special Counsel John Durham.
Durham revealed the explosive claim about Igor Danchenko in a Tuesday court filing. Danchenko was paid by the bureau to be a confidential human source as the bureau conducted its “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign even though officials had reason to know he had lied about the wild claims in the dossier and had previously investigated him for espionage, the prosecutor said.
“In March 2017, the FBI signed the defendant up as a paid confidential human source of the FBI,” Durham wrote in the newly unsealed court filing. “The FBI terminated its source relationship with the defendant in October 2020. As alleged in further detail below, the defendant lied to FBI agents during several of these interviews.”
The FBI caught Steele primary subsource Igor Danchenko in a number of lies.
What did the FBI do in response?
It signed Danchenko up as a paid FBI confidential human source.
— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) September 13, 2022
Danchenko is facing trial in federal court in Virginia on charges he lied to the FBI. He was swept up in Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, which appears to relied in part on a dossier of debunked claims put together by former British spy Christopher Steele on behalf of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Danchenko was Steele’s primary source for the dossier.
Steele was also a paid source for the bureau until he was fired in November, 2016. Durham’s latest revelation means that the bureau, then led by fiercely anti-Trump Director James Comey, quickly hired Steele’s key source, despite knowing that his dossier allegations were at the very least dubious.
Danchenko was also hired despite the FBI knowing he had previous ties to Russian intelligence, Durham revealed. The bureau had conducted a counterintelligence probe of Danchenko during the Obama administration after determining had had tried to buy classified U.S. information.
“In late 2008, while the defendant was employed by a prominent think tank in Washington, D.C., the defendant engaged two fellow employees about whether one of the employees might be willing or able in the future to provide classified information in exchange for money,” Durham wrote. “Based on this information, the FBI initiated a ‘preliminary investigation’ into the defendant. The FBI converted its investigation into a ‘full investigation’ after learning that the defendant (1) had been identified as an associate of two FBI counterintelligence subjects and (2) had previous contact with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers.”
Durham said the FBI shut down the investigation in 2010, but only because it mistakenly believed Danchenko had left the U.S.
When the FBI hired Danchenko, he first denied ever having contact with Russian intelligence, Durham charged. But he later admitted that he had contact with two unnamed officials from the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence operatives, Durham said.
In the filing, Durham asked the court for permission to use Danchenko’s previously undisclosed alleged lies to the FBI to establish a pattern of deception that lent credence in the bureau and media to the claims against Trump. The most salacious of the dossier claims was that Trump consorted with prostitutes who he had pee on a bed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow.
Durham’s team intends to call the hotel’s former manager to testify that neither he nor his staff ever heard of or discussed the claims that the dossier attributed to them.