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Steele Dossier Sub-Source Was Subject of FBI Counter-Intel Probe

New information strikes the strongest blow yet at the foundations of the Russian collusion narrative.

April 4, 2019: A protestor outside the White House demanding the release of the full Mueller Report.(By bakdc/Shutterstock)

In a September 24th letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Attorney General Bill Barr revealed that the “primary sub-source” for the Steele dossier was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in 2009. The source’s Russian ties had been called into question, and the individual was considered a possible national security threat, according to Attorney General Barr’s letter. This sub-source has elsewhere been identified as Russian national Igor Danchenko.

This latest revelation in the Russiagate saga lands just over a month before the election, chipping away further at one of the main lines of criticism that many on the left have leveled against President Trump—and bolstering suggestions from the president’s own camp that the FBI and other executive agencies engaged in substantial misconduct during the transition period in 2016. Allegations contained in the Steele dossier justified FISA warrants against Trump campaign advisor Carter Page and inspired many of the collusion claims that have been floated in the four years since Trump’s election victory.

The attorney general’s letter attributes the finding to a now-declassified footnote in the inspector general’s report on the dubious FISA warrants. The footnote reports that the individual later identified as Christopher Steele’s primary source was under FBI investigation from 2009 to 2011; the investigation was terminated because the subject “had apparently left the United States.”

The FBI found that Danchenko had been in contact with two known Russian intelligence officers in 2005 and 2006. In his exchanges with one of these contacts, the Steele sub-source openly expressed his desire to join the Russian diplomatic service. All of this was known to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team as early as December 2016—five months before Robert Mueller was even appointed to investigate collusion charges originating from Danchenko.

A few other interesting details:

Specifically, the FBI received reporting indicating a research fellow for an influential foreign policy advisor in the Obama Administration was at a work-related event in late 2008 when they were approached by another employee of the think tank (“the employee”). The employee reportedly indicated that if the two individuals at the table “did get a job in the government and had access to classified information” and wanted “to make a little extra money,” the employee knew some people to whom they could speak. According to the research fellow, there was no pretext to the conversation; the employee had not been invited to the table…

And if that weren’t enough, “one interviewee did note that the Primary Sub-source persistently asked about the interviewee’s knowledge of a particular military vessel.” Real subtle there, Igor.

It now seems likely that the panic about foreign influence which swept over our politics for four years rested on the word of not just a Russian spy, but the worst Russian spy of all time.

about the author

Declan Leary is the Collegiate Network Fellow at The American Conservative and a graduate of John Carroll University. His work has been published at National Review, Crisis, and elsewhere.

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