The primary source for the infamous Steele dossier was a business analyst from Russia who lived in Washington, the sources attorney confirmed to The Epoch Times on July 26.
Following the lead of open-source reporting by internet sleuths, The Epoch Times identified and contacted the analyst, Igor Danchenko, on July 19, but received no response and refrained from publicizing his identity.
“Igor Danchenko has been identified as one of the sources who provided data and analysis to Orbis Business Intelligence,” March Schamel, Danchenkos attorney, wrote in an email.
Orbis Business Intelligence is the company co-founded by former British intelligence office Christopher Steele.
“Mr. Danchenko is a highly respected senior research analyst,” Schamel added. “He is neither an author nor editor for any of the final reports produced by Orbis. Mr. Danchenko stands by his data analysis and research and will leave it to others to evaluate and interpret any broader story with regard to Orbis final report.”
While Schamel did not say his client was Steeles primary source, the confirmation that Danchenko is one of the sources is sufficient to establish that he is the primary source based on the recently declassified record of Danchenkos January 2017 interview with the FBI.
Steele claimed that he based the vast majority of his dossier on reports from Danchenko, who in turn had a network of sub-sources. The dossier played a central role in the FBIs decision to secure a warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page in October 2016.
The Department of Justice inspector general determined that the FBIs Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications were riddled with errors, some of the most egregious of which had to do with Steele falsifying and overhyping what he had learned from Danchenko. Steele also presented rumors Danchenko had passed on as credible claims.
The FBI interviewed Danchenko for three days in late January 2017. During the interview, Danchenko disputed some of the claims attributed to him in the dossier and told agents that allegations Steele had presented as credible were merely bar rumors.
Despite learning of the issues with the dossier, the FBI—and subsequently special counsel Robert Mueller—went on to renew the spy warrants on Page. Instead of telling the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) about the major issues with the dossier exposed during the Danchenko interview, the bureau repeated the claims Danchenko had disputed and simply said that he was “truthful and cooperative.”
After the release of the inspector generals report and a severe rebuke from the FISC, the FBI conceded that it should not have sought to renew the warrants.
In addition to playing a central role in the spying on Page, the dossier appears to have figured in the FBIs decision to investigate the Trump campaign, a mounting body of circumstantial evidence suggests. The Hillary Clinton campaign ultimately paid for the dossier, a fact the bureau also omitted in its FISA applications.
The Department of Justice released a heavily redacted copy of the electronic communication summarizing the January 2017 interviews with Danchenko (pdf) on July 17. Despite the extensive blacking out of personal details, the length of the redactions as well as other details in the document made it possible to triangulate on Danchenko.