- John Durham, the special counsel investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, subpoenaed a prominent liberal think tank late last year.
- The Brookings Institution complied with the subpoena, the general counsel for the think tank told The New York Times.
- The primary source for the infamous Steele dossier worked at Brookings until 2010. Several other officials at the think tank were aware of the Steele dossier before it was published in January 2017.
- Danchenko undercut aspects of the dossier during interviews he had with the FBI in January 2017.
Federal prosecutor John Durham recently subpoenaed a prominent foreign policy think tank as part of his investigation into the Steele dossier, the New York Times reported Monday.
According to The New York Times, Durham subpoenaed the Brookings Institution for records related to Igor Danchenko, a former analyst at the think tank who was the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele.
The development sheds some light on a question recently asked by Donald Trump.
“Where’s Durham? Is he a living, breathing human being? Will there ever be a Durham report?” Trump asked in a statement released on March 26.
Durham, who is serving as a special counsel, is conducting a broad but vague investigation into several aspects of the intelligence gathering activities against the Trump campaign.
Much of the investigation has followed up in revelations from a Justice Department inspector general’s report which said that the FBI made 17 “significant” errors and omissions in applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page.
Many of the errors centered on the FBI’s handling of the dossier, which Christopher Steele compiled on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The FBI failed to disclose to the FISA court that investigators had failed to verify Steele’s allegations. The bureau also did not tell the court that Danchenko made statements to FBI agents in January 2017 that conflicted with the dossier.
According to an FBI document declassified last year, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation of Danchenko in 2009 based on a tip that he asked colleagues about security clearances. The bureau considered applying for a FISA warrant against Danchenko in 2010 but dropped the idea after he left the U.S.
Danchenko worked for several consulting firms after leaving Brookings in 2010. He also at some point began working for Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
Investigations led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Justice Department inspector general and several congressional committees all undermined the dossier’s central thesis of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The IG report also debunked several specific claims of collusion that are found in the Steele dossier. One of those is Steele’s claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders regarding hackers.
The general counsel for Brookings told The Times that Durham’s office issued its subpoena on Dec. 31, and that the think tank had turned over documents in February.
“Consistent with its practices in such matters, Brookings provided the responsive documents, none of which contained information associated with the reports known as the Steele dossier,” Michael Cavadel told The Times.
Other Brookings officials were aware of the Steele dossier before it was published in early January 2017.
Steele, a former MI6 officer, has testified in the United Kingdom that he provided a copy of the documents before the 2016 election to Strobe Talbott, a former State Department official who was president of Brookings at the time.
Fiona Hill, a who served as a director of Brookings’ Russia program before joining the Trump administration, told Congress in 2019 that Talbott showed her a copy of the dossier a day before it was published by the media.
Hill told Congress in 2019 that she thought the dossier was packed with Russian disinformation the first time she saw it.
Danchenko and Hill worked together at Brookings. Steele told the FBI in 2017 that Hill introduced him to Danchenko in 2011, according to declassified FBI documents.
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