Primary Source of Steele's Debunked Dossier Revealed


A Russian-born analyst living in the United States has been identified as the primary source for Christopher Steele, the author of a now-debunked dossier regarding Donald Trump and members of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Igor Danchenko, 42, was identified as the dossier source after the July 17 release of an FBI memo regarding interviews conducted with Steele’s primary source in January 2017.

The FBI redacted all information in the memo that might identify Danchenko and six of his sub-sources, but a Twitter user pieced together clues from the memo to identify him as the likely source. The Twitter sleuth created a blog laying out information about Danchenko.

On Saturday, The New York Times confirmed that Danchenko was the source.

“Mr. Danchenko is a highly respected senior research analyst,” Danchenko’s lawyer, Mark Schamel, told The Times.

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“Mr. Danchenko stands by his data analysis and research and will leave it to others to evaluate and interpret any broader story with regard to Orbis’s final report,” said Schamel, referring to Orbis Business Intelligence, the London-based firm owned by Steele.

Danchenko, a former analyst at the Brookings Institution, a liberal foreign policy think tank, undercut some of the dossier’s most explosive allegations about Trump and members of his campaign. His statements to the FBI also suggested that he has far fewer connections to Kremlin insiders than Steele’s allies and the media have suggested.

Danchenko told the FBI that he shared “rumor and speculation” with Steele that he received from his sources, but Steele suggested in the dossier that the information was confirmed.

He said that he heard rumors that Trump had used prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013 and that the Kremlin had video tape of it. Danchenko said that one of his sources inquired at the hotel about the alleged incident but was unable to confirm that it happened.

The dossier’s other major allegations involve Carter Page and Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer.

Steele alleged that Page, a member of the campaign’s national security team, was a central figure in the “well-developed conspiracy of coordination” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Steele wrote that it was Page’s idea to use WikiLeaks to release Democrats’ emails during the campaign. He also alleged that Page met secretly with Kremlin insiders in July 2016 to discuss relaxing sanctions against Russia in exchange for election help.

Regarding Cohen, Steele wrote that the former Trump acolyte flew to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials regarding the election.

The special counsel’s report debunked the claim about Cohen, saying that he did not visit Prague. It also said that no Trump associates conspired with Russia or helped release emails through WikiLeaks.

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A Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s investigation said that the bureau received evidence on Jan. 12, 2017, two days after BuzzFeed published the dossier, that the Cohen allegation may have been the product of Russian disinformation.

The FBI and Justice Department identified Danchenko as Steele’s source the following day, according to The Times.

Danchenko describes six sources that he used for information in the dossier. One of those is Sergei Millian, a Belarusian-American businessman referred to as “Source 6” in the FBI.

News outlets identified Millian as the main source behind the Trump sex tape claim.

But Danchenko’s statements, if true, are inconsistent with the narrative that Millian is a source for the salacious Trump allegation. Danchenko told the FBI that he never met Millian and believes he spoke to him by phone only once in late July 2016.

Steele’s memo regarding the sex tape allegation is dated June 20, 2016.

According to information he put online, Danchenko attended high schools in the United States in the 1990s as part of a student exchange program. He graduated from Perm State University in Russia and received a master’s degree from the University of Louisville in 2005.

He worked for five years at the Brookings Institution as a Russia analyst. While there, he wrote a paper with Fiona Hill, who joined the Trump White House in 2017 as its top Russia expert.

Brookings has played a large role in the dossier saga. In 2016, it’s then-president, Strobe Talbott, contacted Steele seeking a copy of the dossier. Hill told Congress last year that Talbott shared a copy of the dossier with her on Jan. 9, 2017, a day before BuzzFeed published the document online.

Hill said that she was floored when she learned that Steele was behind the document. Hill, who had worked with Steele while he was with MI6, said that she believed the dossier contained Russian disinformation.

Danchenko told the FBI that in March 2016, Steele asked him to look into Paul Manafort, a Republican political operative who joined the Trump campaign a month later.

Steele worked for a law firm that represented Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who had a business dispute with Manafort.

Steele had been hired in June 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm employed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to investigate Trump’s possible ties to Russia.

The FBI identified Danchenko as Steele’s source on Jan. 13, 2017, and conducted interviews with him from Jan. 24 to 26, 2017.

The FBI’s memo says that Danchenko spoke to the FBI and prosecutors under a proffer agreement, meaning that he had immunity for anything he might say in the interview.

The inspector general criticized the FBI for withholding information it received from Danchenko that undermined the dossier.

The report said that the FBI characterized Danchenko as appearing to be reliable and truthful, but failed to disclose that his information raised doubts about the dossier.

According to The Times, Danchenko has cooperated with the Senate Intelligence Committee during its investigation into the dossier.

The Daily Caller News Foundation called a phone number associated with Danchenko earlier this week. A man who answered said that Danchenko was not available.

Danchenko’s attorney did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

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