“Affidavits filed in a federal court on June 21 raise crucial questions about the FBI’s role in the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign’s efforts to vilify her opponent, Donald Trump, as a Russian agent. The FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on the Trump team based on a dossier of memos alleging Trump’s ties to Russia that was filed by Clinton campaign contractor Christopher Steele.
But the newly released court documents suggest the FBI may have helped shape the anti-Trump plot at its origins.
The affidavits are the latest revelation to come from the ongoing defamation suit that the owners of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank, have brought against Fusion GPS, the communications firm that hired Steele to compile Trump–Russia reports on behalf of the Clinton campaign. In one of Steele’s memos, Alfa-Bank principals Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan are alleged to have engaged in corrupt practices.
Steele claims that this report and the others are sourced to a Russian national he hired, Igor Danchenko, who, in turn, says his information came from a network of Russia-based sources. The affidavits filed this week were sworn by five Russian nationals who say Danchenko’s allegations that they served as sources for Steele’s reporting are false.
This may put Danchenko in a bind. Finding himself at the mercy of angry billionaires who are eager to clear their names and the reputation of their business, Danchenko’s clearest path out of financial and legal risk may be to reveal everything he knows about the anti-Trump plot.The affidavit signed by Russian financial journalist Ivan Vorontsov is the most significant of the five documents. Vorontsov said that he has been friends with Danchenko since 2013 and met him three times in 2016. According to him, Danchenko said that he was employed by Fusion GPS, and its co-founders, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch.
This appears to contradict what Danchenko told the FBI in a January 2017 interview. According to the transcript, Danchenko “did not have any visibility into [Steele’s] end clients.” Danchenko’s attorney reaffirmed his client’s claim, “Never asked, and was never told [about final clients].”
Another section from Vorontsov’s affidavit may prove even more significant. He states that during a June 2016 reception at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Moscow, he was “whisked away and invited to have a discussion with representatives of the FBI about Mr. Danchenko.”
Though Vorontsov does not give any more details, the FBI’s interest in him is noteworthy. According to the Department of Justice’s December 2019 inspector general’s report, the FBI claims Steele didn’t provide them with Danchenko’s name. Moreover, the FBI says it didn’t speak with Danchenko until January 2017. And yet seven months earlier, the FBI was seeking information about Danchenko from a man he named as a dossier source. (Read more: The Epoch Times, 6/23/2021) (Archive)