Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
In the runup to the 2016 election, Democrat backers and operatives executed one of the most brazen crimes in election history by employing their network of international contacts, friendly reporters, and Justice Department personnel to frame their political opponents as enemy agents in order to spy on them, to smear them, and even develop charges against them.
Russiagate is shocking because of the sheer convoluted scale, effrontery, and corruption of dozens, if not hundreds of prominent people, including government officials, both in this country and abroad, willing to do anything to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.
The arrest and indictment of Igor Danchenko as part of the Durham special counsel investigation peels back some of the techniques of the Clinton-Obama Russiagate rateffery that generated fake FISA warrants, the Mueller investigation, and multiple calls for impeachment. Not to mention about a million fake New York Times and Washington Post articles.
There’s plenty of corroboration but few surprises for longtime Russiagate investigators here.
The Danchenko indictment confirms that Christopher Steele, who recently gave his first televised American media interview to Bill Clinton’s former communications director, George Stephanopoulos, was just another in a series of cutouts for relaying Democrat smears.
Steele’s MI6 background and his FBI contacts were there to add credibility, political distance, and a little foreign glamor to a Democrat dirty tricks operation. The Danchenko indictment reveals that “the FBI learned that U.K. Person-1 relied primarily on a U.S.-based Russian national, (DANCHENKO), the defendant herein, to collect the information that ultimately formed the core of the allegations.”
The Steele dossier was really Danchenko, a Russian employee of the Brookings Institute think tank that is filled to the brim with Democrat foreign policy personnel. But Danchenko, like Steele, was likely yet another in a series of foreign patsies passing on material from a Democrat figure.
The indictment charges that Danchenko “stated falsely that he had never communicated with a particular U.S.-based individual – who was a long-time participant in Democratic Party politics and was then an executive at a U.S. public relations firm (PR Executive) – about any allegations contained in the Company Reports. In truth and in fact, and as DANCHENKO well knew, DANCHENKO sourced one or more specific allegations in the Company Reports anonymously to PR Executive-1.”
Who introduced Danchenko to Steele? According to the indictment, “an employee of Think Tank-1”. That would most likely be the Brookings Institute and the employee was allegedly Fiona Hill, an impeachment witness against President Trump, who then introduced Danchenko to the “executive” at the heart of the case. The executive had talked to Danchenko about a collaboration “between PR Firm-1 and U.K. Investigative Firm-1” on matters related to Russia. That’s the linkage between Democrats, Steele’s source, and then Steele.
The executive at the center of Russiagate was entwined with the Clinton political machine.
As the indictment notes, “PR Executive-1 had served as (1) chairman of a national Democratic political organization, (2) state chairman of former President Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, and (3) an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Moreover, beginning in or about 1997, President Clinton appointed PR Executive-1 to two four-year terms on an advisory commission at the U.S. State Department.”
Here’s where the Russian conspiracy begins, but it involves the Clintons, not Trump.
“PR Executive-1 spent much of his career interacting with Eurasian clients with a particular focus on Russia… from in or about 2006 through in or about 2014, the Russian Federation retained PR Executive-1 and his then employer to handle global public relations for the Russian government and a state-owned energy Company,” the indictment alleges.
The man at the heart of Russiagate had originally been working for the Russians right before Hillary Clinton was expected to run for and win the White House. 2006 is also an interesting year because Hillary Clinton won a second Senate term before launching her presidential campaign. So is 2014, a year after the Uranium One deal, the worst Russian scandal of Hillary’s State Department tenure. The Russians were allegedly directing money into the Clinton Global Initiative and had paid Bill Clinton a $500,000 speaking fee.
Any number of Democrat figures had previously been tied to the dossier smear campaign.
It had already been revealed that the Russians had hired APCO worldwide to handle communications. Jonathan Winer, a Kerry aide who worked for APCO, had promoted the Steele dossier and had lobbied for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska whose properties were raided by the FBI a few weeks ago. Deripaska, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin, had also employed both Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS. Winer had also worked for another think tank, the Middle East Institute, an anti-Israel group funded by Muslim oil regimes, including the Saudis.
Winer’s name had come up earlier in the Russiagate investigation and he wrote a Washington Post op-ed describing Steele as a “friend” and received the Trump smears from him. Winer claims that he “spoke with an old friend, Sidney Blumenthal” who then showed him “notes gathered by a journalist I did not know, Cody Shearer, that alleged the Russians had compromising information on Trump of a sexual and financial nature” and Winer then passed them on to Steele. I was the first to identify Shearer, one of Bill Clinton’s plumbers, known for some ugly tactics as a key figure in shaping the Russiagate smear, quite a few years ago.
But there’s another key Clintonworld figure who some have identified as the PR executive.
Ketchum, another global PR firm, spent nine years representing Russia during a period that matches up with the indictment’s timeline. Charles Dolan, who, like Blumenthal, had served as an advisor to Hillary’s 2008 campaign, had also served as state chair for Clinton-Gore in 1992 and 1996, as executive director of Democratic Governors’ Association, and had been appointed by Clinton to two terms on the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
That closely matches the indictment’s description of the chair of a national Democrat organization, a state chair of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns, an advisor to Hillary’s 2008 campaign, and the two terms. The language in the indictment even appears to match Dolan’s bio at KGlobal, his current gig, though the page oddly appears to have been taken down.
Dolan had been a senior VP at Ketchum and had worked its Russia account. And, like Blumenthal and Winer, Dolan had developed close ties to John Kerry.
Whoever the nameless PR executive might be, he combined close ties with the Clintons and with Russian government officials. The indictment notes that he “frequently interacted with senior Russian Federation leadership whose names would later appear in the Company Reports” as well as Russian officials operating in this country whose names also appeared there. The exec’s pal then organized a conference in Moscow where he appeared.
The exec’s asset was his “ability to set up meetings with senior Russian government officials and provide analysis of the 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential primary at the October Conference.” The top Clintonworld figure was marketing his ties to the Clintons and Russian officials at a Moscow hotel in the kind of synergy the Clintons had become notorious for.
The indictment reveals that the executive believed that Danchenko, the pipeline to Steele, and then to the FBI and DOJ, had been a Russian agent. “He is too young for KGB. But I think he worked for FSB. Since he told me he spent two years in Iran. And when I first met him he knew more about me than I did,” the Clintonworlder wrote in an email.
Some of the material for the Steele dossier came from the conference which Danchenko helped organize at a Moscow hotel. The real hotel didn’t have urinating prostitutes, but it did have top Russian officials with the Foreign Ministry and an alliance between the Clintons and Moscow.
Danchenko’s Russian sub-source claimed to be a big Hillary Clinton fan, requesting a signed copy of her book, getting the executive to write him a recommendation letter for a job in the “Russian presidential administration” even while he was hoping that “PR Executive” would “take me to the State Department if Hillary wins” where he hoped to be assigned to Russian matters.
The indictment leaves plenty of unanswered questions, but it does lay out the bare bones of a conspiracy involving not President Trump, but the Clintons and their political allies. It was the Clintons, not Trump, who had controversial business dealings with regime-linked Russian officials. It was Clinton allies whose Russian dealings linked them to Russian intelligence operatives. And it was Clinton allies who used those ties to invent a smear campaign accusing President Trump of their own crimes using a smear campaign based on their Russian alliances.
The Steele dossier existed to cover up not only the real origins of the smear campaign, but the incestuous relationship between the Clintons and the Russians. It was a master stroke that turned their biggest political liability into an asset by making it Trump’s scandal, not theirs.
The indictment implicitly makes the case that a top Clintonworld ally who had worked for the Russians helped bring together the key players and the smears for the Steele dossier. Could the Russians have really been unaware of what their own people were up to in Moscow? That seems unlikely. The Democrats built their 2016 election conspiracy theory around the idea that the Russians wanted Hillary to lose the election. But did Danchenko’s subsource, “take me to the State Department if Hillary wins”, really sound like he wanted Hillary Clinton to lose?
Or was Russiagate really a Russian effort to put Hillary Clinton in the White House?