It was Hillary all along. The indictment by Special Counsel John Durham of Igor Danchenko for lying to the FBI proves conclusively the Steele dossier was wholly untrue. There was no Russiagate except for the one created out of lies. The only campaign that colluded with Russia was Clinton's.
Clinton paid for the dossier to be created and Clinton people supplied the fodder. Steele, working with journalists, pushed the dossier into the hands of the FBI to try to derail the Trump campaign. When that failed, the dossier was used to attack the elected president of the United States.
Let’s start with a quick review of what Durham has uncovered about the most destructive political assassination since Kennedy.
Christopher Steele, paid by the Clinton campaign (after Clinton's denial, it took a year for congressional investigators to uncover that the dossier was commissioned by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, working for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, paid through the Perkins Coie law firm), seems to have done no investigative work. Instead, his reputation as a former British intelligence officer was purchased to validate a dossier of lies and then traffic them to the FBI and journalists.
Durham's investigation confirms one of Steele's key “sources” is the now-arrested Danchenko, a Russian emigre living in the United States. Steele was introduced to the Russian by Fiona Hill, then of the Brookings Institution. Hill would go on to play a key role in the Ukraine impeachment scam. Danchenko completely made up most of what he told Steele about Trump-Russian collusion.
When he did not make up stuff himself, he was spoon-fed lies by Charles Dolan, a long-time Clinton hack and campaign regular (Coincidence? It was Fiona Hill who introduced Dolan to Danchenko). Ironically, Dolan had close ties not only to the Clintons but to the Russians as well; he and the public relations firm where he worked represented the Russian government and were registered as foreign agents for Russia. Dolan is credited with, among other things, making up the pee tape episode.
Dolan also fed bogus info to Olga Galkina, another Russian who passed information to Danchenko for inclusion in the dossier. Galkina noted in e-mails that she was expecting Dolan to get her a job in the Hillary administration. Steele, a life-long Russia and intelligence expert, apparently never questioned or verified anything he was told.
In short: Clinton pays for the dossier, Steele fills it with lies fed to him by a Clinton public relations stooge through Russian cutouts, and the FBI swallows the whole story. Democrats actually had the guts to claim later it was Trump who obstructed justice.
That the dossier was a sham was evident to anyone who ever read a decent spy novel. It was a textbook information operation and The American Conservative, without any access to the documents Durham now has, saw through it years ago, as did multiple other outlets. See here (2/5/2018), here (2/15/2018), here (6/15/2018), here (3/25/2019), here (12/11/2019), and more. What was obvious from the publicly available information was, well, obvious to everyone but the FBI.
The dossier was the flimsy excuse the FBI used to justify an unprecedented, full-on investigation into the Trump campaign. That included electronic surveillance (obtained by the FBI lying directly to the FISA court and presenting Steele's lies as corroborating evidence), the use of undercover operatives, ops, and honey traps with foreign diplomats and case officers, and prosecution threats over minor procedural acts designed to legally torture low level Trump staffers—Carter Page, who the FBI knew was a CIA source, and George Papadopoulos—into “flipping” on the candidate.
Page in particular was a nobody with nothing, but the FBI needed him. Agents “believed at the time they approached the decision point on a second FISA renewal that, based upon the evidence already collected, Carter Page was a distraction in the investigation, not a key player in the Trump campaign, and was not critical to the overarching investigation.” They renewed the warrants three times anyway, due to their value under the “two hop” rule. The FBI can extend surveillance two hops from its target, so if Carter Page called Michael Flynn who called Trump, all of those calls were legally open to monitoring. Page was a handy little bug used for a fishing expedition.
What's left is to answer: Was the FBI really that inept that they could not see a textbook op run against them? Or did the FBI know early on they had been handed a pile of rubbish, but needed some sort of legal cover for their own operation (spying on Trump) and thus decided to look the other way from the obvious shortcomings of Steele's work?
“The fact pattern that John Durham is methodically establishing shows what James Comey and Andrew McCabe likely knew from day one, that the Steele dossier was politically-driven nonsense created at the behest of the Clinton campaign,” said Kevin Brock, the FBI's former intelligence chief. “And yet they knowingly ran with its false information to obtain legal process against an American citizen. They defrauded not just a federal court, they defrauded the FBI and the American people.”
The 2019 Horowitz Report, a look into the FBI's conduct by the Justice Department Inspector General, made clear the FBI knew the dossier was bunk and purposefully lied to the FISA court. The FBI knew Steele, who was on their payroll as a paid informant, had created a classic intel officer’s information loop, secretly becoming his own corroborating source, and gleefully looked the other way because it supported their goals.
How bad was it? At no point in handling info accusing the sitting president of being a Russian agent—what would have been the most significant political event in American history—did the FBI seriously ask themselves, “Exactly where did this information come from, specific sources and methods please, and how could those sources have known it?” The FBI learned Danchenko was Steele's primary source in 2017, via the Carter Page tap, and moved ahead anyway. Were all the polygraphs broken?
From the FBI's perspective, turning a blind eye was not even that risky a gambit. They were so certain they would succeed (FBI agents and illicit lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exchanged texts saying “Page: ‘Trump’s not ever going to become president, right?’ Strzok: ‘No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.’”) and Hillary would ascend to the Oval Office that they felt they would have top cover for their actions.
After Trump won and the FBI's coup planners shifted to impeachment, they held on to their top cover as James Comey presented himself as the man on the cross, aided by a greedy corporate media apparatus, which cared only about ending Donald Trump while cranking up their ratings with dollops of the dossier's innuendo. A mass media that bought lies about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and then promised “never again” did it again.
If a genie granted me a wish, I would want a conversation with Robert Mueller under some sort of truth spell. Did Mueller just “miss” all the lies, hoping to protect his beloved FBI? Or did he see himself as a reluctant white knight, having realized during his investigation the real crime committed was coup planning by the FBI and thinking that by ignoring their actions but clearing Trump he would bring the whole affair to its least bad conclusion?
I suspect Mueller understood he had been handed a coup-in-progress to either abet (by indicting Trump on false information) or bury. He could not bring himself to destroy his beloved FBI. But the former Marine could also not bring himself to become the Colin Powell of his generation, squandering his hard won reputation to validate something he knew was not true. Mueller split the difference, and kept silent on the FBI while leaving Trump free to his own fate.
This is the third indictment by Durham. Danchenko’s indictment, Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s, and FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s depict criminal efforts to get Trump. The arrest of Danchenko makes clear Durham knows the whole story.
What will he do with it? Will he walk his indictments up the ladder, ever closer to Hillary? Will he proceed sideways, leaving Hillary but moving deeper into the FBI? Maybe see if Fiona Hill connects the failed Russiagate coup with the failed Ukrainegate impeachment, both of which she played a pivotal role in? Or will Durham use the stage of congressional hearings to bypass Joe Biden's Justice Department and throw the real decision making back to the voters?
History will record this chapter of America's story as one of its more sordid. Only time will tell if the greater tale is one of how close we came to ending our democracy via an intelligence agency coup, or whether Russiagate was just a nascent practice run by the FBI, on a longer road which led to our demise a president or two later. For those who belittled the idea of the Deep State’s existence, this is what it looks like.
Peter Van Buren is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan, and Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent.
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