Durham’s In-Your-Face Danchenko Gambit
In the larger drama we’ll call “Russiagate” Igor Danchenko gets nowhere near top billing. Even today, after his week-long trial, not one American out of ten could identify this FBI informant by name. Fewer still could tell you word one about the drama’s other walk-ons, Sergei Millian and Charles Dolan. Although the Democrats and major media are anxious to see all three of these minor players vanish into the ether, Special Counsel John Durham made future stars out of them all.
Danchenko was accused of lying to the FBI about his relationships with both Millian and Dolan. These are lies, said Durham’s co-counsel Michael Keilty in his opening statement that “the FBI should have uncovered but never did.” So saying, team Durham put Washington on notice. This trial was not really about Danchenko at all. It was about the FBI, the Department of Justice, and, finally, the Mueller investigation.
“The evidence in this trial will show that the Steele dossier would cause the FBI to engage in troubling conduct that would ultimately result in the extended surveillance of the United States Citizens,” said Keilty. That conduct, the trial revealed, included offering Christopher Steele what amounted to a million-dollar bribe to corroborate his infamous dossier, paying Danchenko to be a confidential human source (CHS) after he proved to be a serial liar, and basing a multi-year persecution of President Trump on information the FBI had every reason to believe was bunk.
The attempted bribe, revealed on Day One of the trial, should have stopped the presses. Specifically, Durham asked FBI supervisor Brian Auten what the FBI offered Steele for “corroborative information.” Said Auten, “Mr. Steele was offered anywhere up to a million dollars for any information, documentary, physical evidence, anything of that sort which could help to prove the allegations.”
This offer reeks of desperation. The FBI made it in early October 2016, two weeks before it filed its first FISA application against American businessman Carter Page. As Auten admitted, Steele did not and could not provide “anything.” Ever. Yet without any corroboration, the FBI went ahead and filed not just one but four FISA applications against Page with the unproven Steele information as its foundation -- a clear violation of FISA law.
Millian, like Carter Page, was an innocent bystander. The Russia-born Danchenko cited the Belarussian businessman as one of Donald Trump’s co-conspirators in the information he provided to Christopher Steele. A former FBI informant himself -- this fact came as news to the media -- Millian proved to be innocent of any conspiratorial involvement. Auten conceded, however, that dossier information indicting Millian was included in the October 2016 FISA application and all subsequent renewals, even after his innocence had been established.
Charles Dolan was not innocent at all. A longtime Democrat operative with Russian ties, Dolan was Danchenko’s principal sub-source. He just made stuff up and fed it to Danchenko who, in turn, fed it to Christopher Steele who fed it to the Clinton campaign, the media, and the FBI who collectively shared this unvetted nonsense with the world for several years.
At trial’s end, the judge dismissed the one count involving Dolan for semantic reasons. Predictably, perhaps intentionally, CNN missed the real story, headlining its article, “Judge drops 1 of 5 charges against Trump-Russia dossier source, in blow to special counsel Durham.” This was no blow. Dolan was not on trial. By tying the FBI investigation back to the Hillary campaign and the DNC, Durham accomplished what he needed to. A further revelation of the trial was that the FBI leadership resisted all efforts by its agents to interview Dolan or share information about him with the Mueller investigation.
America’s newsrooms are having a hard time digesting all this. The editors at the New York Times remain proud of the 2018 Pulitzer for their -- don’t laugh -- “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign.”
Not wanting to give the Pulitzer back, the editors continue to ignore or downplay all evidence that challenges their long since discredited narrative. As late as April 2022, Charlie Savage, the Times Washington correspondent, was claiming, "Donald J. Trump and his backers say revelations about the Steele dossier show the Russia investigation was a ‘hoax.’ That is not what the facts indicate.”
The word “hoax” does not do the Russia investigation justice. “Greatest political scandal ever” is closer to the mark. As Durham proved, the FBI and the DoJ turned a willfully blind eye to the dirtiest trick in the nation’s political history, and the media gave themselves awards for covering it all up. For the actual facts, I would recommend Techno Fog’s reporting at The Reactionary. This summary only skims the surface of the official skullduggery Durham revealed in just four days of trial.
In addition to exposing the conscious malfeasance of the FBI brass, Durham also established the organizational structure of the whole Russia investigation from the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane through to the Mueller Inquiry. This information should prove useful in any future investigation when the real culprits are indicted on RICO charges.
Image: US Attorney's Office, CT