John Durham - Wikimedia Commons

Sounds like Department of Justice Special Counsel John Durham's clownass iNVeStiGatE THe iNVeStigAtorS probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation is getting stupider.

The news today is that the feds have taken into custody Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who resides in the US, who was one of the primary sources of the Steele Dossier. Indeed, Danchenko was the source for the allegation about PEE TAPE.

Danchenko has been indicted on five counts of lying to the FBI when he talked to them in 2017. Is this indictment dumber than Durham's last indictment? Dunno, didn't know it was a contest.

We're just going to large block quote the Washington Post here, since they summarize the charges no nicely:


The indictment charges that Danchenko repeatedly lied to the FBI in interviews in 2017 as agents sought to get to the bottom of claims made in the dossier. The indictment also notes that the FBI "was ultimately not able to confirm or corroborate" most of the dossier's substantive claims.

The indictment charges that Danchenko lied to agents when he said he had never communicated about the dossier allegations with a U.S.-based public relations executive "who was a long-time participant in Democratic Party politics," when in truth that executive was "a contributor of information" to the dossier.

The new Durham indictment also charges that unnamed executive's ties to the Democratic Party were so extensive that they bore upon their "reliability, motivations, and potential bias as a source of information." Danchenko "gathered some of the information . . . at events in Moscow" organized by that same executive, who invited him to attend, the indictment charges.

Danchenko is also charged with lying to the FBI about interactions he claimed to have with the then-president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA. The indictment doesn't identify that person, but people familiar with the case have previously said it is Sergei Millian.

The indictment charges that Danchenko falsely claimed to have had a phone conversation with a person he thought was Millian as part of his information-gathering for the dossier and that the two agreed to meet later in New York, but "Danchenko fabricated these facts."

The indictment charges that those lies were material to the investigation because chasing them down consumed a significant amount of the FBI's time and resources, and that Danchenko's claims "played a role in the FBI's investigative decisions and in sworn representations that the FBI made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

We're sorry, but does any of that rise to the level of "lied to FBI about secret negotiations with Russian government"? We are just asking, because we are unclear on what the standards are here in Wonderland.

The Steele Dossier has always been raw intelligence, but Republican collaborators and wingnuts have been gunning for it for years and making up lies that allege that the entire Trump-Russia investigation was predicated on Christopher Steele's unverified raw intelligence, when that was never the case. (If you'll remember, the investigation started after this one very stupid Trump idiot drunkbarfed information all over an Australian diplomat about how the Russians had all kinda dirt on Hillary Clinton, at which point Australia picked up the intel phone and called the FBI.)

However, it's true that some unverified info from the dossier ended up as part, but nowhere near all, of the justification for FISA warrants for Carter Page, which was detailed in the 2019 inspector general's report. And oh golly, Republicans have been sucking that chicken's dick from the get-go, as if the entire Trump-Russia investigation was somehow about that freak.

When the FBI interviewed Danchenko back in 2017, it was trying to verify whatall in the dossier might be true. And if Danchenko lied to them, that's on him. MSNBC analyst and former State Department spox Matthew Miller tweeted that it seems like Danchenko did, while also saying this is one of the "most convoluted indictments I've ever read."

Of course, what we don't see here is an indictment that says Danchenko is a Russian agent or anything like that. Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham and others have been accusing him of that ever since Bill Barr and Graham, as the Times reported last year, basically laid out a "road map" for blowing his cover, which happened soon after. The indictment also does not say Danchenko committed the crime of Illegal Fabrication Of Pee Tape.

In an interview with the Times last year Danchenko said absolutely NYET he is not a Russian agent, for what that's worth. But he also explained in more detail what he had done to investigate the alleged pee tape. (That's right, if Durham is dropping BS indictments like this that miss the point entirely, we are going to pivot halfway through and talk almost exclusively about PEE TAPE.)

One contact told Danchenko the broad outlines of the rumor — the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, the bed where the Obamas had once stayed, the prostitutes, the alleged peeing.

Mr. Danchenko said the contact told him that Mr. Trump was "well known" to Russian security services and seemed surprised he had not already heard about the purported Ritz-Carlton matter.

Another contact mentioned Trump and the Ritz-Carlton, but not the pee. Then Danchenko talked to people who worked at the hotel.

"I circled around it, you know, enough for them to say, 'look, yeah, there is a — you know, a funny thing. There might be a tape of Mr. Trump, might be sexual, but, you know, things that happen at Ritz-Carlton stay at Ritz-Carlton,'" Mr. Danchenko said.

How very interesting!

But also in that interview, Danchenko said his job for Steele was always simply to find raw intelligence, that he takes what he found and relayed to Steele with a "grain of salt," and that even he is skeptical of what he heard. The Times mentions that another source told the US government later on that the pee tape stuff was Russian disinformation.

On the other hand, Christopher Steele just said last month that he thinks the pee tape "probably exists," and that any walking back by Danchenko might have had to do with fear of what might happen to him after his cover got blown.

Hey remember like five seconds ago when Donald Trump out of literally out of nowhere told a crowd of donors that he definitely isn't a pee guy? That seems like a good way to abruptly end this post about John Durham's latest indictment.

[Indictment / New York Times / Washington Post]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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