By Jack Phillips
For years, Trump has categorically denied the Russian collusion narrative. Several investigations, including one carried out by former special counsel Robert Mueller, found no evidence Trump colluded with Moscow to win the 2016 election, although those notions have persisted in mainstream media outlets.
On Saturday during a rally in Ohio to support GOP candidates, Trump made note of special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the federal government’s Russia investigation. Last week, Durham’s team issued a court filing that said Igor Danchenko, the alleged principal source of the “Steele dossier” that targeted Trump, was later made a paid FBI informant.
Danchenko, a Russia analyst, is facing five charges of lying to the FBI. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“I think that sounds like a slightly Russian name,” Trump said during the event. “The foreign national fabricated some of the most ridiculous smears and lies in the phony Steele dossier. It was all phony.
He added: “How would you like to be me and go home and explain that one to my wife (Melania Trump)? Darling, it wasn’t true. I swear it wasn’t … it was all phony.”
The 45th president then asserted that the allegations that were pushed in the dossier, a series of notes pushed by former UK spy Christopher Steele, were made up by Democrats who were “working with a paid informant of the FBI.” Steele compiled the dossier while being paid by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
“Man, what a country we have,” Trump also told the rally-goers. “We’ve got to fix our country. It’s so sad.”
According to a recent court filing, Danchenko was made a paid FBI confidential informant in March 2017 and remained as such until October 2020. The FBI declined to comment, referring The Epoch Times to the Department of Justice. The department did not respond to a query.
In 2016, Danchenko was paid by Steele to collect information on Trump, who was then a presidential candidate, and Steele was in turn hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS, meanwhile, was being paid by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton, who was then the opponent of Trump.
Prosecutors have said Danchenko lied about key details, including falsely saying he did not get information from Dolan for the dossier.
Danchenko, a Russian-born national who lives in the United States, is scheduled to be tried in October.
Earlier this month, his lawyers filed a motion to dismiss charges (pdf) and argued Durham’s prosecution is “a case of extraordinary government overreach.”
“Danchenko sat through numerous voluntary FBI interviews and provided hours of truthful information to the government,” Danchenko’s attorneys said, adding that he had “no role” in the “drafting of the” Steele dossier and had “no knowledge of their existence.”
“Indeed, Mr. Danchenko did not even know what specific project [Steele] was working on when he began to solicit Mr. Danchenko for information about Trump and his connections to Russia. Mr. Danchenko was also unaware of how many other sources had contributed to the creation of the Reports,” the filing stated.
The Epoch Times has contacted the FBI for comment.
Trump made the remarks Saturday while campaigning for Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Youngstown, Ohio.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.