(…) Perhaps the most stunning disclosure is that Danchenko was given confidential human source (CHS) status by the FBI in March 2017. Notably, this was after Danchenko had disowned the Steele dossier in a January 2017 FBI interview, having admitted that it was based on gossip and rumors. Given the admission, there was no legitimate reason to extend the protections of CHS status to Danchenko, who no longer had any bona fide value to the FBI’s investigation into alleged Trump–Russia collusion.
In fact, the FBI’s investigation ought to have ended as soon as Danchenko disclosed the true provenance of Steele’s reporting.
The FBI’s goal in giving Danchenko the highly coveted CHS status appears to have been to take Danchenko off the grid. As a CHS, Danchenko enjoyed special protections and privileges. Crucially, the FBI was able to use his status to conceal Danchenko and his disclosures from congressional inquiries, such as the investigation by then-Rep. Devin Nunes led by Kash Patel. Other inquiries, such as Freedom of Information Act requests, could similarly be stonewalled by reference to the “sources and methods” justification for concealing the identity, and even the existence, of a CHS.
The FBI had huge incentives to hide Danchenko. Although Danchenko told the FBI several lies in what Durham now describes was an attempt to reconcile what Danchenko had told Steele, the overarching message from Danchenko was that the dossier was untrue. This effectively ended any legitimate inquiry into Trump–Russia collusion. Danchenko’s disavowal also meant that the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page—which were issued based on the Steele dossier—were effectively invalidated.
The FBI had a legal duty to inform the FISA court about Danchenko but failed to do so. In fact, they successfully applied for two further FISA warrants against Page on the basis of the Steele dossier which they knew to be false.
The timing of Danchenko’s elevation to CHS status coincided with two major developments. First, on March 20, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the Trump campaign was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia. At the time, Comey knew that Danchenko had shredded the investigation’s predicate, yet he chose to forge on regardless. Second, also in March 2017, Nunes found out from a whistleblower in the intelligence community that the Trump transition team had been spied on. Nunes complained that Congress hadn’t been given that information.
As head of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes immediately ratcheted up his own investigation into the Trump–Russia matter. That investigation would lead to the Nunes memo in February 2018. However, the Nunes memo made no mention of Danchenko or of the fact that he had disavowed the dossier. After the FBI put Danchenko on their CHS payroll, he was completely off the grid and any information about him was withheld from Congress under the “sources and methods” justification.
The FBI’s apparent scheme to bury Danchenko seems to have worked as planned. Neither Nunes nor anyone else knew about Danchenko or his disavowal of the Steele dossier until December 2019, when Justice Department (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued his report on the FBI’s FISA abuses. Horowitz didn’t disclose Danchenko’s name and provided very little information other than that Steele had a primary sub-source whose story differed from the one told by Steele himself.
It wasn’t until July 2020 that a group of online sleuths, including myself, were able to extrapolate Danchenko’s name from various data points in Horowitz’s report, as well as from heavily redacted interview notes published by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
With the identification of Danchenko, any remaining credibility of the Steele dossier collapsed. Contrary to the FBI’s claims, Danchenko wasn’t a Russian-based source with access to Kremlin insiders. Instead, he was a Beltway insider who had spent a number of years working at the Democratic-leaning Brookings Institution, where anti-Trump impeachment witness Fiona Hill was his mentor.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 9/14/2022) (Archive)
September 23, 2022 – Nunes: Why the FBI Paid Danchenko