Newly filed affidavits this week seemed to suggest that the FBI played an even larger role than believed in the Hillary Clinton campaign’s scheme to smear rival candidate Donald Trump with claims of Russian collusion in the 2016 election.
The affidavits came from several Russian oligarchs as part of a defamation suit by the country’s largest commercial bank, Alfa-Bank, against the leftist opposition-research firm Fusion GPS, conservative journalist Lee Smith wrote in the Epoch Times.
The bank’s principal owners sued the firm over allegations in the Steele Dossier, which was produced by Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democrat National Committee and the Clinton campaign, and delivered to the FBI using a back-door husband-and-wife channel through the firm.
The dossier’s author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, relied upon a suspected Kremlin operative, Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst working for the left-wing Brookings Institution who also may have been employed by Fusion GPS, according to the affidavits.
The dossier’s primary sub-source claimed, in turn, that the Alfa-Bank oligarchs had been among his sources.
But in his sworn testimony, financial journalist Ivan Vorontsov, who had been friends with Danchenko for three years at the time of the dossier’s production, said during a June 2016 reception in Moscow he was “whisked away and invited to have a discussion with representatives of the FBI about Mr. Danchenko.”
But footnotes to the IG report that were declassified in September 2020 revealed that Danchenko “was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his/her documented contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers.”
Revelations of his prior involvement with both the FBI and Fusion GPS would contradict Danchenko’s January 2017 FBI interview, in which he claimed that he “did not have any visibility into [Steele’s] end clients.”
However, that—like many of the FBI’s claims surrounding its corrupt and seditious anti-Trump smear campaign—might have been little more than a semantic game intended to misdirect.
Danchenko’s lawyer clarified that he was “never asked, and was never told” by Steele himself who stood to benefit from his the scandalous and salacious claims.
But if the end client was the very same agency conducting the interview, and if the FBI had briefed Danchenko in advance on the nature of Steele’s supposed “research,” then it would effectively be a closed loop—one in which the FBI had planted the information that it would later investigate and disseminate, as well as surreptitiously leaking it to leftist media.
“The affidavits show why Steele was able to gather such remarkably in-depth and earth-shattering intelligence in only a month’s time—it was fabricated,” Smith wrote in the Epoch Times op-ed.
If the purpose of the costly and divisive “Crossfire Hurricane” operation (and subsequent special-counsel probe) was simply to lend validity and cachet to the lies that the FBI itself had devised, then the gambit it took was to weaponize the public trust that it benefited from as a nonpartisan institution in service of a deeply political objective.
Having failed in that effort, it is small wonder that the agency now finds itself doubling down on the deception, with a personal stake—its own credibility—in assuring that the truth be concealed at all costs.
Luckily for the agency, its multiple layers of plausible deniability helped keep its prints clean from any direct culpability.
“The five affidavits have left Danchenko alone and exposed,” Smith wrote. “And so, one important question is, if Steele hid behind Danchenko, who was hiding behind Steele?”