by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The acquittal of Igor Danchenko for making false statements to investigators about his part in providing bogus anti-Trump information for the discredited Steele dossier is, in the end, a footnote. As Russiagate special counsel John Durham argued in summing up the prosecution’s case to the jury, “the elephant in the room” was the FBI. It was the bureau’s malfeasance that was really on trial, and the verdict on that, emphatically, is guilty.
In the short trial, Durham established that the bureau knowingly submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) sworn applications that claimed the information supplied by former British spy Christopher Steele had been verified. In reality, not only had the bureau failed to verify Steele’s claims of a “conspiracy of cooperation” between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Kremlin; it had offered Steele $1 million if he could provide corroborating proof. The FBI never had to pay because neither Steele nor his primary source for anti-Trump “intelligence,” Danchenko, could deliver.
That is not the half of it. The bureau knew Steele was compiling the dossier as opposition research for the Clinton campaign — he’d been contracted by the information firm Fusion GPS, which had been retained by Clinton’s lawyer, Marc Elias. At Danchenko’s trial, Durham elicited testimony from a senior FBI intelligence analyst, Brian Auten, that in a meeting in Rome in October 2016 (the same month that the FBI started using Steele’s fabricated reporting in its FISA application), an agent improperly briefed Steele on “Crossfire Hurricane,” the bureau’s codename for the Trump/Russia probe. That is, even as Steele was providing the FBI with nonsense that he could not back up, the FBI was providing Steele with classified intelligence related to Trump that Steele was then positioned to share with his Clinton campaign sponsors.