Russiagate is again coming back to haunt its authors.
The New York Times reports:
Federal authorities on Thursday arrested an analyst who in 2016 gathered leads about possible links between Donald J. Trump and Russia for what turned out to be Democratic-funded opposition research, according to people familiar with the matter.
The arrest of the analyst, Igor Danchenko, is part of the special counsel inquiry led by John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to scrutinize the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing, the people said.
Mr. Danchenko, was the primary researcher of the so-called Steele dossier, a compendium of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow’s covert operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.
The people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment of Mr. Danchenko had yet to be unsealed. A spokesman for Mr. Durham did not respond to a request for comment.
The indictment has now been unsealed and it is quite a bombshell.
Danchenko had made several claims about Trump and Russia for which his only source were not some Russian contacts but the public relations executive Chuck Dolan with whom he also worked on a different project. Next to his PR job at Kglobal the PR-executive Chuck Dolan is also a Democratic party operative with deep relations to the Clintons:
President Bill Clinton appointed Chuck to two four-year terms as the vice-chairman of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. This seven-member commission is a bipartisan panel established by the Congress to advise the President, the Secretary of State, and the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs on press and information activities of U.S. missions abroad, and the government’s international radio and television operations.
During the 2008 Democratic nomination process, Chuck served as an advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. He was also a senior communications consultant for Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004. He was state chairman of the Virginia Clinton-Gore Campaigns in 1992 and 1996, and a member of President Clinton’s Presidential Exploratory Committee. Prior to that, he was executive director of the Democratic Governors’ Association, where he supported the election and re-election of Democratic governors in all fifty states.
Before joining kglobal, Chuck was a Senior Vice President at Ketchum, one of the world’s largest public relations firms. He also worked as a Senior Vice President at the government relations firm Cassidy and Associates, where he coordinated joint public affairs projects for universities involving the U.S. House and Senate as well as the White House and Federal Agencies.
Dolan also had many contacts with Russian officials including with the Kremlin’s press office.
The 2016 Clinton campaign paid the legal firm Perkins Coie to find dirt about Donald Trump. A Perkins Coie lawyer hired Fusion GPS, a shady ‘research’ firm run by a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Fusion GPS hired the British private spy company Orbis to find (or makeup) the Trump dirt it needed. The ‘former’ British MI6 spy Christopher Steele of Orbis was tasked with developing a dossier about Trump. Steele hired Igor Danchenko, a Russian living in the United States, to come up with Trump-Russiagate stories. Danchenko’s problem was that he had no sources. But he also worked for Chuck Dolan who was working to hold a business conference in Moscow and new some Kremlin related people.
(Fiona Hill, a later witness during the Trump impeachment, had introduced Danchenko to Dolan.)
Clinton operative Dolan fed Danchenko several stories which Danchenko then dramatized and sent to Steele. Steele revised those stories and put them into his ‘dossier’. This was then peddled by Fusion GPS and Steele to the media and the FBI. Some of the tales Dolan fed to Danchenko were simply taken from media reports.
In October 2016 The FBI used the Steele dossier to get a wiretap application to snoop on the Trump campaign. It continued to use the Steele dossier to renew its snooping application even when it already knew that the dossier was nothing but nonsense.
One example cited in the indictment of Danchenko is that Chuck Dolan talked with a hotel manager in Moscow where his planned business conference were to be held. The hotel manager told Dolan that Trump had once slept in their presidential suite. Dolan later told this to Danchenko. Danchenko then tells Steele about it. Either Dolan, Danchenko or Steele add prostitutes and a ‘pee tape’ to the ‘Trump in a Russian hotel’ story. Steele writes that up and ships it to Fusion GPS from where it gets peddle throughout Washington DC.
The FBI knew all this by mid 2017 when it talked to Danchenko. But Danchenko denied that he had the stories from Chuck Dolan and insisted that he had original Russian sources.
But the bigger revelation is that Danchenko source, if we are to believe the indictment, was some innocent PR executive who also happened to be a big Clinton fan.
That however may not be the whole story. The Democratic party operative and good friend of the Clintons did know that Danchenko was also working for Christopher Steele whom the Clinton campaign paid indirectly to write up a dirty dossier about Trump.
It does not require much fantasy to assume that Chuck Dolan was in on the whole Clinton campaign plot to make up dirty rumors about Trump and Russia and that he intentionally fed vague or made up Trump-Russia stuff to Danchenko to get it into the Steele dossier and from there into the media.
Did Hillary knew all this?
The indictment of Danchenko is exonerating another figure in the Russiagate affair. Sergei Millian is a former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce who had been associated with Donald Trump. Danchenko had claimed that Millian had been one of his sources for several ‘reports’ in the Steele dossier. The indictment clearly states that this was a lie. Millian, who had been taking much flak during the whole Russiagate affair, is now fully exonerated.
The whole story again puts a bad light onto the FBI. The transcript excerpt above makes it obvious that the FBI knew by mid 2017 that Danchenko was lying about his sources and that the dossier was pure nonsense. But the FBI held back on that because its leadership was anti-Trump. It took four years and two special investigations for this to come out. The FBI, special counsel Mueller or even the current special counsel Durham could have revealed all this much earlier.
But that would have exonerated not only Sergei Millian but also Donald Trump.