D.C. narratives these days aren’t just eye-rolling, they defy you to take them seriously.
Here’s what the New York Times decided to push out from Durham’s latest trial.
A veteran F.B.I. counterintelligence agent testified on Thursday that the Trump Justice Department’s decision in 2020 to release sensitive documents about a bureau informant to a Senate committee examining the bureau’s Russia investigation had damaged national security.
The agent told jurors at the trial of Igor Danchenko, who is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about matters related to the anti-Trump Steele dossier, that Mr. Danchenko, a Russia analyst, had provided extraordinary assistance for years as a paid F.B.I. informant.
Internet sleuths managed to piece together Mr. Danchenko’s identity after Attorney General William P. Barr directed the F.B.I. to declassify a redacted report about its three-day interview of Mr. Danchenko in 2017 and give it to Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.
Kevin Helson, the agent, said Mr. Danchenko became a political target, adding that the “release of the document was dangerous.”
There’s no doubt that Danchenko was a paid information. His identity was also about as top secret as that of the Hamburglar.
Danchenko had been hanging around the foreign policy establishment of the United States for nearly two decades. He went to work for Brookings, which is an unofficial arm of the Democrat foreign policy establishment (albeit partly funded by Qatar) which hosts and incubates assorted party foreign policy figures. There he became associated with Fiona Hill who was literally working on Russian intel for the government.
As top secret sources go, Danchenko did everything but put up giant billboards. Only the same cynical clowns who pretended that Valerie Plame was a top secret agent could try to play Danchenko as a top secret source whose identity could not be revealed.
The Russians, who keep tabs on their own people, knew exactly what Danchenko was up to, likely because he was their spook. His career all but screams intelligence operative embedded in the West and prepped to mingle and become useful to Washington D.C. foreign policy types.
The only damaging revelation here is that the FBI wasn’t just being used as a hand puppet by the Clinton campaign, but was getting intel fed to it by the Russians aimed at a presidential candidate. This would be a huge scandal if anyone in the media were remotely honest.
Instead, the New York Times tells us with a straight face that an FBI agent testified that revealing Danchenko’s identity undermined national security about this top secret source.
According to the memo, the FBI opened a preliminary investigation in 2009 after receiving information that a “research fellow for an influential foreign policy advisor for the Obama administration” was approached by the individual, later identified as the dossier sub-source, who allegedly inquired about their future “access to classified information” and if they “wanted to “make a little extra money.”
The memo states that the research fellow and co-worker questioned the possibility the individual might be a “Russian spy.”
The preliminary case was converted to a full investigation after a review of FBI databases revealed the individual had contact in 2005 and 2006 with the “Russian embassy and known Russian intelligence officers.”
In 2010, the individual left the US, and the FBI withdrew a surveillance warrant application to the FISA court and closed the investigation. Significantly, the investigative team stated “that consideration would be given to re-opening the investigation in the event that the Primary sub-source returned to the United States.”
Yes, this one. The only thing revealing Danchenko’s name did to national security was expose how bad the FBI was at counterintelligence. Now to give the FBI a microgram of credit, they presumably believed that they had recruited him as a double agent or some such thing.
Except the lousy tradecraft here made it all too obvious that either Danchenko was really bad at his job or that had been the game all along with Igor being positioned as a fake double agent to feed the FBI what Moscow wanted the U.S. government to know. Considering how much better the Russians (and pretty much everyone else is) at this game than the FBI and the CIA, I would bet on the latter. Remember that Rudolf Abel, entirely fake name, was deliberately exposed to test the state of the Soviet spy network and our intelligence. We fell for it.
Defense lawyers also tried to buttress the idea that Mr. Danchenko was an exceptional informant and that his exposure was a huge loss to the F.B.I., citing annual internal bureau reports that showed Mr. Helson thought highly of Mr. Danchenko and saying he was paid more than $200,000 for his work.
Between that $1M for Steele and $200K for Danchenko, that’s some great opposition research at taxpayer expense through the FBI. Why shouldn’t Americans be funding half the world’s foreign agents to subvert our own political system? It’s just like the Cold War days.