Dossier writer Christopher Steele told the FBI that he validated his myriad allegations against Donald Trump in part by the fact his main source had difficulty entering Russia to keep collecting dirt.
That source was Igor Danchenko, a Russian-born U.S. resident to was paid by Mr. Steele to go to Moscow in 2016 and collect anti-Trump claims to help the Hillary Clinton campaign. It paid his salary along with the Democratic Party.
The FBI interviewed Mr. Steele, a former British spy and the head of Orbis Business Intelligence, at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on two days in September 2017. BuzzFeed had published the dossier’s 35-pages shortly before Mr. Trump took office.
“Steele indicated that his primary sub source had reported being hauled in front of immigration authorities [deleted],” the FBI agents wrote. “The primary sub source was shaken down for money…. was forced to go to an ATM and withdraw money and paid the bribe. Steele took this as a good sign for validation purposes, remarking that things haven’t gone smoothly for his primary sub source all the time.”
The redacted 302 repeatedly blacked out Mr. Danchenko’s destination–––except with this sentence: “Steele explained that the primary sub source was not just working on election-related collection during the primary sub source’s 2016 trips to Russia.”
Mr. Steele elaborated on the validation process and why he did not believe Mr. Danchenko was under the control of Russian intelligence.
“Steele mentioned a number of things which he took to be positive signs,” the 302 states. “First, there was the incident involving the primary sub source being shaken down for money. Second, the primary sub source exhibits behavior indicative of someone who is scared. The primary sub source would not be talking about going to the talk to the special counsel if there was a problem. Steele does not believe that the primary sub source exhibits signs of behavior of someone who is under control …. Steele said that it hasn’t been easy for the primary sub source to get information. Has to dig for it.”
Perhaps not known to Mr. Steele at the time is the fact the FBI had located Mr. Danchenko and conducted a series of interviews in Washington. Mr. Danchenko depicted his collection as a second-and third—hand hearsay. At one point he termed his sub-sources not worth “a grain of salt.”
Neither Mr. Steele nor the FBI has ever released his name. When Republican senators released a redacted version of Mr. Danchenko’s January 2017 FBI interview, social media sleuths determined his identity and his lawyer later gave confirmation.
“Steele advised that this report was based on a unique reporting stream,” the 302 says. “Steele said that it did not take much effort early-on for his primary sub source to collect information because the whole thing was an ‘open secret’ in Moscow. People would start talking in bars and the primary sub source could easily elicit information. “
Some of the dossier’s bogus assertions, which were cited by Democrats and liberal media to attack Mr. Trump: A conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Kremlin on election interference; Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to pay bribes to computer hackers; Mr. Trump financed Russian hacking; Campaign volunteer Carter Page elicited a bribe from two Moscow kingpins in exchange for removing U.S. scansions.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded in March 2019 that he did not establish Russia-Trump election collusion.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at email@example.com.
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