Igor Danchenko, a primary contributor to the Steele dossier, was hired by the FBI as a confidential informant in 2017, Special Counsel John Durham revealed in a new court filing.
The Russian national was ultimately charged in 2021 as part of Durham’s probe of the Trump-Russia investigation; he is accused of lying to the FBI regarding his sources for some claims in the Steele dossier. The charges focus on statements Danchenko made related to the sources he used in providing information to an investigative firm in the United Kingdom.
The new filing reveals the FBI hired Danchenko as a confidential informant in March 2017 after having interviewed him about his work on the dossier months earlier. Danchenko is accused of having made false statements regarding the sources of some information that he provided to a U.K. investigative firm in 2017 that was later passed to the FBI.
Long before Danchenko’s involvement in the Steele dossier, he was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in 2009 as an analyst at the Brookings Institute after one of his colleagues alleged that Danchenko asked if he would be willing to sell him classified information. In 2011, the FBI closed the probe after Danchenko left the U.S.
It is not clear whether Danchenko worked as an informant to provide information about the dossier or as part of the investigation into the Trump campaign, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
The allegation that Trump colluded with Russia and “accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals,” stemmed from the dossier by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. After the 2016 election, the dossier was found to have included a number of unverified or erroneous claims and Steele was accused of peddling the Russian election interference hoax to undermine Trump’s campaign with his dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign through its law firm Perkins Coie.
During an interview with the FBI, Danchenko suggested that even he was skeptical of some of the contents included in the dossier.
“Even raw intelligence from credible sources, I take it with a grain of salt,” Danchenko said. “Who knows, what if it’s not particularly accurate? Is it just a rumor or is there more to it?”
However, the FBI reportedly did not share Danchenko’s concerns with the Justice Department. The DOJ inspector general found in 2019 that the FBI had relied on information from the dossier despite Danchenko casting doubt on its contents.
The FBI ended its relationship with Danchenko in October 2020.