Steele Dossier Isn't 'Russian Disinformation,' But a Clinton Campaign Product, Journo Says
The Danchenko indictment has become the final nail in the coffin of ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele's "dirty dossier" on Donald Trump. However, a number of American media personalities and politicians could not resist the temptation to nonetheless pin the blame on Moscow, insisting that the collusion hoax was nothing but "Russian disinformation."
Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, a longstanding advocate of Trump-Russia "collusion," insisted – in a clear reference to Danchenko – that those who lied to the FBI or Steele should be prosecuted and sent to jail if convicted. "It’s one thing to say allegations should be investigated, and they were. It’s another to say that we should have foreseen in advance that some people were lying to Christopher Steele, which is impossible, of course, to do," Schiff said.
For its part, conservative editorial magazine National Review claimed
on 5 November that the Democrats "aggressively and successfully disseminated Russian disinformation during and after the 2016 election," calling Igor Danchenko, a key source behind Steele's dossier, a "suspected Russian spy." Fox Nation's Lara Logan also rushed
to accuse Russia of a "disinformation campaign to subvert the US government," as did
Arthur Schwartz, described by the US media as a "GOP operative."
"I think it remains highly unlikely that the pathological adherents to Russiagate will ever admit defeat or to their own mistakes in propagating this farce," says independent American journalist Max Parry. "The smokescreen has been lifted and they can no longer maintain the perception that the Steele dossier is authentic, so they are now admitting to its fabrication but with the added stipulation that if it was phony, it must have been the Russians who were behind it all along. The result of this could be making Danchenko the fall guy."
When it comes to the Republicans, they've been trying to link the Democrats to "Russian disinformation" since late September 2020 when GOP Senator Lindsey Graham revealed that a key sub-source for Steele "was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his/her documented contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers," citing a letter from then-Attorney General William Barr. The GOP appears to be trying to make the Dems taste their own medicine, presenting them as "Russian stooges."
A Boozer & Brookings Institution Scholar
Judging from information in the public domain, Danchenko has never been charged with being a spook or conducting any spying activities. Instead, the Russian national was arrested in March 2013 in Greenbelt, Maryland, and charged with several misdemeanors, including being "drunk in public, disorderly conduct, and failure to have his [2-year-old] child in a safety seat," as US investigative journalist Paul Sperry revealed
in July 2020, citing court filings
. The journalist noted that in 2006, Danchenko was arrested on similar offenses, including "public swearing and intoxication," in Fairfax, Virginia.
Despite his troublesome behaviour, Danchenko was highly praised by Fiona Hill, an outspoken Russia hawk and former official at the US National Security Council who was also a Donald Trump impeachment witness.
According to Sperry, Danchenko used to be Hill's protégé at the Brookings Institution, an influential liberal US think tank, known for its Russophobic publications. “Igor is a highly accomplished analyst and researcher,” Hill noted on his LinkedIn page in 2011. “He is very creative in pursuing the most relevant information and detail to support his research.”
In 2010, Hill introduced
Danchenko to Steele, who then retained him as a contract investigator. Six years later, in early 2016, she introduced
Igor to Charles Dolan, a prominent Democrat and longtime aide to the Clintons, who was named by Durham as "PR-Executive-1" in Danchenko's indictment.
"Mr. Danchenko was arguably the single most crucial source for the former MI6 spy in doctoring his evidence-free report," says Max Parry. "As we all now know, it turned out both he and Christopher Steele were being funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary's campaign."
One might wonder as to where Steele's crucial source received his information. Durham notes
in Danchenko's indictment that the Brookings scholar told a number of his friends and associates about his cooperation with the ex-MI6 agent, which could "affect the likelihood that other individuals – including hostile foreign intelligence services – would learn of and attempt to influence Danchenko's reporting for [Steele]."
However, the indictment alleges that the key source for Danchenko's research was none other than Clinton campaign operative Chuck Dolan
. Furthermore, the document exposes at least one instance of Dolan knowingly "fabricating" facts given to Danchenko.
Of Danchenko's other sub-sources, one was a "Hillary Clinton fan" who dreamt about a job in the Clinton administration, according to Durham's document.
6 November 2021, 05:36 GMT
To complicate matters even further, a number of Danchenko's "sub-sources" referred to in the "dirty dossier" vehemently denied providing any information for the Steele investigation.
Thus, Just the News quotes
Russian journalist Lyudmila Nikolayevna Podobedova – believed to be the dossier's "Sub-Source 5" – who said in a sworn declaration
submitted to US District Judge Richard Leon on June 21 in the Alfa Bank case that she "never provided Mr. Danchenko (or anyone else) with any information related to the contents of the Dossier."
Likewise, Russian academic Alexey Sergeyevich Dundich, Danchenko's apparent "Sub-Source 4," officially denied delivering any data attributed to him. "My impression is that Mr. Danchenko fabricated the information published in the Dossier to make quick money," Dundich's declaration
For his part, banking industry journalist and currency collector Ivan Mikhailovich Vorontsov told the US court that he was not only falsely portrayed as "Sub-Source 2" in the Steele dossier, but that Danchenko later apologised to him for doing so.
"I believe that the Dossier was fabricated to fit whatever the client who requested the information wanted to receive," Vorontsov highlighted in his declaration
Cui Bono? Moscow Has Never Stood to Benefit From 'RussiaGate'
If one wants to get the answer to the question of whether Russia was behind Danchenko's lies, one needs to ask "Cui bono?" or "Who stands to gain?" notes Max Parry.
"Certainly it isn't in Moscow's interest to be generating a political scandal that sabotages US-Russia relations, leads to the further sanctions and the suspension of numerous arms control treaties dating back to the Cold War," says Parry. "Danchenko was working for the Brookings Institution, not the Kremlin."
In contrast, the 2016 Clinton Presidential Campaign appeared to have clear motivation for undermining Trump's election odds
and diverting attention from Hillary's emailgate scandal by linking Trump to Russia.
5 October 2021, 16:30 GMT
According to Durham's indictment of Michael Sussmann, a group of researchers funded by the Clinton campaign desperately tried to link the Trump Organisation to Russia's Alfa Bank
. Once Trump assumed the Oval Office, the "Russiagate" hoax was used to sabotage any possibility of establishing normal relations between Moscow and the Trump administration, according to the journalist.
"In addition to serving as a pretext to politically persecute the former president, undermining detente and damaging bilateral relations between the US and Russia was the primary purpose of perpetrating this deception," Parry says. "This explains the connivance that went on between senior intelligence officials and Democratic operatives, as they had mutual opposition to Trump. After all, we know that John Brennan gave then-President Obama the run down on Clinton's plot to tie her opponent to Russia in order to divert public attention away from her email controversy."
Many other Western journalists and American legal observers are sure that the Steele dossier was a product of the Clinton campaign in the first place.
"The whole point is that there was no 'Russian disinformation,'" wrote
George Szamuely, a senior research fellow at Global Policy Institute (London). "Every single aspect of the RussiaGate hoax was invented by the Democrats. There never was any Russia in RussiaGate."
The Epoch Times columnist Lee Smith. "There was no Russia in Russiagate. As the Danchenko charging documents show, it’s [the] Clintons all the way down."
"Durham’s collusion investigation increasingly is taking on a type of 'Murder on the Orient Express' feel, in which all of the suspects may turn out to be culprits. One common denominator is the connection to Hillary Clinton and her campaign," highlighted
Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University on 9 November.
Meanwhile, the Durham investigation is far from being over, Parry believes. "There could be further subpoenas coming down the pike," he says, adding that "with each criminal accusation there are more dots connected to the DNC."
In between the indictments of Sussmann and Danchenko, there is ample evidence suggesting a wider scheme leading back to the Clinton team, according to Parry. However, only time will tell whether justice will be served for the high-profile culprits, the American journalist concludes.