By Zachary Stieber
Top U.S. senators are pressing the FBI’s director and the attorney general for answers on how the government paid the primary source for the anti-Donald Trump dossier, which has been proven to be full of baseless information.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the top Republican on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said they want more information following the recent disclosure that the FBI paid Igor Danchenko.
Special counsel John Durham first revealed in early September that the FBI paid Danchenko, the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele, from March 2017 to October 2020. Danchenko later confirmed the payments. The FBI has declined to comment, and the Department of Justice has not responded to inquiries.
The senators noted in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Merrick Garland made public on Sept. 26 that the bureau investigated Danchenko in 2008, after the then-Brookings Institution analyst approached co-workers and said he could connect them to people for payments for handing over classified information.
According to a summary of the investigation, agents found Danchenko had contacts with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers. An associate of Danchenko said that he had “persistently asked” about a particular military vessel. Another associate said Danchenko wanted to live in Russia again in the future.
The FBI closed the investigation in 2010 after investigators learned he left the United States in 2010.
In 2016, the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team, investigating alleged links between Trump and his campaign and Russian actors, learned that Danchenko was Steele’s primary source and became familiar with the earlier investigation. But the bureau still decided to pay him as a confidential human source.
“Therefore, while we were investigating the Justice Department’s and FBI’s misconduct with respect to Crossfire Hurricane, you maintained him on the government’s payroll,” Grassley and Johnson wrote to Wray, a Trump appointee, and Garland, a Biden appointee.
“This extraordinary fact pattern requires additional information from the Justice Department and FBI relating to why Danchenko was placed on the payroll and paid by the taxpayer to assist in the federal government’s flawed investigation into President Trump,” they added, referring to how Crossfire Hurricane investigators misled the secretive court that approved spy warrants on Trump associate Carter Page.
The senators asked for all records relating to payments made to Danchenko, the counterintelligence investigation into him, and his later hiring.
The Epoch Times has already submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for the information, but it has not yet been provided.
Danchenko was charged in 2021 with five counts of lying to the FBI. He is due to go on trial in October.