Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks on stage during a campaign rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, August 20, 2016. | Reuters/Carlo Allegri
More than five years after the FBI first began investigating then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s purported illicit ties to Russia, a key source for the report containing allegations of misconduct by his campaign has been charged with making false statements to the federal law enforcement agency.
Igor Danchenko was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Wednesday with making false statements to the FBI. The grand jury indictment, filed Wednesday, noted that Danchenko was one of the primary sources used by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele, referred to as “U.K. Person-1,” when constructing “the information that ultimately formed the core of the allegations found in the Company Reports,” also known as the Steele Dossier.
In addition to listing the occasions where Danchenko lied to the FBI, the indictment mentions that the campaign of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival in the 2016 presidential election, played an instrumental role in the creation of the Steele Dossier: “A U.S.-based international law firm (‘Law Firm-1’), acting as counsel to the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign (the ‘Clinton Campaign’), had retained a U.S.-based investigative firm (‘U.S. Investigative Firm-1’) to conduct research on Trump and his associates.”
Steele was recruited to conduct the research on Trump and submitted information to the FBI containing “derogatory information on then-candidate Donald J. Trump” beginning in July 2016. That month, the FBI launched an investigation known as “Crossfire Hurricane” that probed whether officials within the Trump campaign were coordinating with the Russian government. The FBI repeatedly spoke to Danchenko as part of the investigation.
“As part of its efforts to determine the truth or falsity of specific information in the Company Reports, the FBI conducted several interviews of Danchenko regarding, among other things, the information that Danchenko provided to U.K. Person-1,” the indictment stated.
Specifically, Danchenko falsely told FBI agents that “he had never communicated with a particular U.S.-based individual — who was a long-time participant in Democratic Party politics and was then an executive at a U.S. public relations firm … about any allegations contained in the Company Reports.” As it turns out, the individual was identified as a source of at least one of the allegations in the Steele Dossier.
The longtime Democratic Party operative, identified by The New York Times as Charles Dolan, worked on both of former President Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns as well as both of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. Dolan was not the only person Danchenko lied about to authorities.
According to the indictment, “Danchenko stated falsely during the interviews that, in or about late July 2016, he received an anonymous phone call from an individual who Danchenko believed to be a particular U.S. citizen and who was then president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (‘Chamber President-1’).”
“Danchenko also falsely stated that, during this phone call, (i) the person he believed to be Chamber President-1 informed him, in part, about information that the Company Reports later described as demonstrating a well-developed ‘conspiracy of cooperation’ between the Trump Campaign and Russian officials.”
The assertion that Danchenko spoke with and later met with the aforementioned individual was later determined to be false. The indictment illustrated that the false assertion served as the basis for conducting surveillance on one of the Trump campaign’s advisors, Carter Page. Danchenko was also accused of lying about his friends, associates and sub-sources’ knowledge about his relationship with Steele.
The Steele Dossier contained salacious allegations about Trump’s behavior and dealings with Russia, most notably that he rented the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow “where he knew President and MRS OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.”
The charges against Danchenko stem from former U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Durham was appointed as a special counsel by then-Attorney General William Barr to “investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane.”
Former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussman and former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith have also been indicted for making false statements as a result of the Durham probe. Accusations of collaboration with Russia continued throughout the Trump presidency and eventually resulted in a special counsel investigation that lasted for approximately two years.
Stephen Miller, who worked in the Trump administration, responded to the indictment in an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Thursday. Miller restated the opinion widely held throughout the Trump administration’s inner circle that the Russia probe and the special counsel investigation were used to hamstring the Trump presidency, specifically that the “deep state” was using the Russia probe to “overthrow the elected president of the United States.”
“This was a theft from the American people. They elected their president. His time, his energy and that of his staffers were stolen. Thousands upon thousands of hours were stolen by rogue bureaucrats working in our intelligence services, in the FBI and across the government to impose their will over the will of the American people,” he asserted.
Wall Street Journal opinion writer Kimberly A. Strassel asserted that “The Clinton dossier should go down as one of the biggest scandals in U.S. political history. Not just for the breadth of the con, but for the time it has taken to expose it.”
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