The alleged principal source of the discredited Steele dossier later became a paid FBI informant, according to a filing by special counsel John Durham.
Igor Danchenko has been charged with five counts of lying to the FBI as part of Durham's probe into the origins of the original investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russian agents during the presidential race.
A filing unsealed Tuesday said the FBI paid Danchenko as a "confidential human source" (CHS) during the years then-President Donald Trump was under investigation. The Russian had supplied the most salacious accusations in the Steele dossier.
Durham claims that Danchenko, hired by the FBI In March 2017, remained a CHS during special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the accusations against the Trump campaign.
"The news [in the filing] shocked many of us who have closely followed the Russian collusion controversy for years," legal analyst Jonathan Turley wrote Wednesday. "The FBI showed a zeal to investigate Trump and his campaign that seemed to border on the blind obsessive."
Turley said it was "particularly concerning" because the FBI also had former British spy Christopher Steele on its payroll.
"So the FBI cut off Steele as a paid source after he allegedly worked with the media to spread these unproven [Russian collusion] claims," Turley wrote. "It then turned around and hired his principle source for the dossier."
Breitbart reported Wednesday that one online writer, known as Techno Fog, speculated that Danchenko might have been retained as a paid CHS to keep him from revealing that Mueller and the FBI knew the information in the "dossier" was false, even as the bureau used it to obtain electronic surveillance warrants on Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page.
Durham's filing also cited Danchenko, as a then-employee of a "prominent think tank," being the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation after a colleague alleged that Danchenko asked if he would be willing to sell him classified information. The FBI closed the probe in 2011 after Danchenko left the U.S.
"The 'prominent think tank' appears to be the Brookings Institution," Turley wrote. "I have previously written about the prominent role of Brookings in spreading the Russian collusion claims and hiring an array of people who played critical roles in these investigations.
"That also included former FBI general counsel James Baker. For some, it seemed like not just friends but 'friends with benefits.' It seems that everyone in this scandal was six degrees from Brookings."
Durham is accusing Danchenko of lying to the FBI to protect Charles Dolan Jr., a communications consultant with close ties to the Clintons.
The special counsel also alleges that Danchenko lied to the FBI about communications with Sergei Millian, then president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, whose supposed evidence helped convince the FBI to seek a surveillance warrant against Page.
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