The slow unraveling of the Obama administration’s plot, executed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to ensure that Donald Trump would not become president or would not long remain president, has been almost painful to witness. The most recent revelation, however, might just speed that unraveling and present some hope that, eventually, the conspirators will face some sort of reckoning. The man who provided former British spy Christopher Steele with much of the material for his “dossier” on Trump has been identified – and that leaves the FBI with a potentially serious problem.
Igor “Iggy” Danchenko, a Russian national who officials have identified as Steele’s primary subsource, is a man with a criminal history and a drinking problem. In February 2017, Danchenko was interviewed by the FBI about his role in the compilation of the Steele dossier. The written record of that interview has now been declassified, though it is heavily redacted.
A Peddler of Gossip
What can be gleaned from the record, though, is that Danchenko was entirely unwilling and unable to vouch for the credibility of any of the scurrilous rumors and allegations he passed on to Steele. It was all bar talk, assumption, and gossip. In fact, the Russian provided the FBI with no hard evidence – much less proof – that any of the various imaginary connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials were real. Neither was he able to provide any evidence that some of the more distasteful rumors about Donald Trump’s activities in Russia had any truth to them.
This did not stop the FBI from continuing to return to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to renew a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate, Carter Page. The Bureau relied heavily upon material contained in the Steele dossier to obtain those warrants, knowing full well that none of it had been verified – and knowing that the man who gathered the information had admitted that he himself considered it to be little more than idle chatter.
One Little Lie
There is a further detail in the saga that, although seemingly minor, should not be overlooked: Within the material provided to the FISC by the FBI, Danchenko is identified as a Russia-based subsource. In fact, he was living in the United States. That may appear to be a trivial detail, but the FBI could not have been unaware that Danchenko was based in the U.S. and not in Russia – and so this is at least one “fact” presented to the court that was inaccurate, and the FBI knew it.
If there is even one instance of the Bureau knowingly providing the FISC with false information, there are surely more.
Danchenko also revealed to the FBI that he had fully appraised Christopher Steele of the dubious nature of the material he was providing. Steele, though – by his own admission – had been “desperate” to ensure that Trump would not become president. Thus, the former MI6 officer merrily compiled his dossier and distributed it, knowing full well that its contents were, at best, unverified and, at worse, entirely fabricated. But, then again, the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign were paying him handsomely to do just that.
Among Republicans and Trump’s supporters, frustration is growing that, to date, only one individual is known to have been criminally charged for his role in misleading the FISC. The unveiling of Danchenko’s FBI interview only serves to confirm the long-held suspicion that the Bureau knew from the beginning that its counterintelligence operation targeting the Trump campaign was based upon nothing more than a collection of rumors.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.