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Tipsheet

Feds Arrest Primary Steele Dossier Researcher as Part of Durham Investigation

AP Photo/Bob Child, File

Federal authorities on Thursday arrested Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who contributed to the discredited, anti-Trump Steele dossier. 

According to The New York Times, Danchenko was “the primary researcher” of the dossier, which compiled unfounded rumors about the 45th president in an effort to show he was “compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials” to help bring Hillary Clinton down. The document was then used by the FBI to illegally spy on the Trump campaign in 2016.

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[M]ost of the important claims in the dossier — which was written by Mr. Danchenko’s employer, Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent — have not been proven, and some have been refuted. F.B.I. agents interviewed Mr. Danchenko in 2017 when they were seeking to run down the claims in the dossier. [...]

A 2019 investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general sharply criticized the F.B.I. for continuing to cite material from the dossier after the bureau interviewed Mr. Danchenko without alerting judges that some of what he said had cast doubt on the contents of the dossier.

The inspector general report also said that a decade earlier, when Mr. Danchenko worked for the Brookings Institution, a prominent Washington think-tank, he had been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was a Russian agent.

In an interview with The New York Times in 2020, Mr. Danchenko defended the integrity of his work, saying he had been tasked to gather “raw intelligence” and was simply passing it on to Mr. Steele. Mr. Danchenko — who made his name as a Russia analyst by exposing indications that the dissertation of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia contained plagiarized material — also denied being a Russian agent.

“I’ve never been a Russian agent,” Mr. Danchenko said. “It is ridiculous to suggest that. This, I think, it’s slander.”

Mr. Steele’s efforts were part of opposition research that Democrats were indirectly funding by the time the 2016 general election took shape. Mr. Steele’s business intelligence firm was a subcontractor to another research firm, Fusion GPS, which in turn had been hired by the Perkins Coie law firm, which was working for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Mr. Danchenko said he did not know who Mr. Steele’s client was at the time and considered himself a nonpartisan analyst and researcher. (NYT)

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Former Attorney General Bill Barr tapped U.S. Attorney John Durham in May 2019 to examine the origins of the Russia investigation. Danchenko’s arrest is part of the Durham probe. 

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