One of America’s greatest political scandals coming to an end

ben weingarten
Conservative Opinion

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
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Special Counsel John Durham appears to be winding down the Justice Department investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Durham’s team used a grand jury to indict a cybersecurity lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton — and who has since been acquitted — and a Russia analyst, Igor Danchenko, accused of lying to federal investigators. Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten breaks down the latest developments in the Danchenko case:

Will Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of Russiagate end with a bang, or a whimper?

Recently there have been major bombshells in the pending case of Igor Danchenko, while the New York Times throws cold water on Durham by claiming the special counsel’s time is almost up.

In some ways, the question has already been answered.

It’s been more than six years since Russiagate began, and we still only know a fraction of the truth – much of which our law enforcement apparatus reportedly prevented from seeing the light of day despite an order from President Trump himself to declassify it for the public – evidence that some speculate Trump held at Mar-a-Lago.

What relatively little we do know nevertheless demonstrates corruption, lawlessness and hyper-politicization of the highest order, implicating the top ranks of our national security and law enforcement apparatuses, the political class and the media.

And after all that, John Durham has only prosecuted two cases plus Danchenko’s pending one, concerning relatively small fish and giving little indication he intends to hold culpable any of the bigger ones.

You can judge that record for yourself.

Nevertheless, at Straight Arrow News I’ve been chronicling the doings of the special counsel because it’s tasked with uncovering and pursuing one of the greatest scandals in American political history – one aimed at sabotaging and subverting a presidency by concocting a case it was treasonous, in the process thwarting the will of the American people and undermining our system of government – and that’s a story that matters. 

And it’s a story that we’ve learned more and more about via the special counsel, even if it hasn’t brought the culprits to justice – in fact, even if it’s effectively protected many of them.

In this vain, it’s worth shining a light on the latest revelations in the Danchenko case, which are eye-opening.

Will Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of Russiagate end with a bang, or a whimper?

Recently there have been major bombshells in the pending case of Igor Danchenko, while the New York Times throws cold water on Durham by claiming the special counsel’s time is almost up.

In some ways, the question has already been answered.

It’s been more than six years since Russiagate began, and we still only know a fraction of the truth – much of which our law enforcement apparatus reportedly prevented from seeing the light of day despite an order from President Trump himself to declassify it for the public – evidence that some speculate Trump held at Mar-a-Lago.

What relatively little we do know nevertheless demonstrates corruption, lawlessness, and hyper-politicization of the highest order, implicating the top ranks of our national security and law enforcement apparatuses, the political class, and the media.

And after all that, John Durham has only prosecuted two cases plus Danchenko’s pending one, concerning relatively small fish and giving little indication he intends to hold culpable any of the bigger ones.

You can judge that record for yourself.

Nevertheless, at Straight Arrow News I’ve been chronicling the doings of the special counsel because it’s tasked with uncovering and pursuing one of the greatest scandals in American political history – one aimed at sabotaging and subverting a presidency by concocting a case it was treasonous, in the process thwarting the will of the American people and undermining our system of government – and that’s a story that matters. 

And it’s a story that we’ve learned more and more about via the special counsel, even if it hasn’t brought the culprits to justice – in fact, even if it’s effectively protected many of them.

In this vain, it’s worth shining a light on the latest revelations in the Danchenko case, which are eye-opening.

Recall that Danchenko was indicted on five counts of lying to the FBI.

He was the key researcher behind the key document – the Steele dossier — behind the key effort to take down Trump – Russiagate.

His indictment showed that his own alleged key source of some of the key information in that dossier, was totally fabricated, and that he had never even communicated with him.

Danchenko allegedly lied to the FBI about it all, helping foist a fraud on the FISA court to spy on a Trump campaign advisor by presenting four FISA warrant applications underpinned by the Steele dossier.

The FBI hid the fact it knew Danchenko was lying to it, claiming in sworn court documents he was “truthful and cooperative” even after the FBI learned he had misled them about his key source.

Danchenko also allegedly lied to FBI agents when he denied that a Russia-tied longtime Clinton crony and 2016 campaign supporter and volunteer, Charles Dolan, fed Danchenko information that also made it into the dossier, which the FBI relied upon in evaluating the dossier’s credibility.

It also turns out Danchenko had previously been suspected by federal officials of being a Russian spy—something never disclosed to the FISA court, when just that kind of information that could call into question the credibility of the basis for the spy warrants had to be disclosed.

Now we’ve learned more about that tidbit. Danchenko, according to a recent Durham filing in advance of the October trial, was under counterintelligence scrutiny by U.S. authorities while he was at the liberal Brookings Institute that seems to have been a central node of Russiagate.

As Margot Cleveland reported in The Federalist, prosecutors wrote that:

“in late 2008, while the defendant was employed by [Brookings]…the defendant engaged two fellow employees about whether one of the employees might be willing or able in the future to provide classified information in exchange for money.”

“According to one employee,” the court filing continued, Danchenko thought the employee “might be in a position to enter the incoming Obama administration and have access to classified information.” Danchenko allegedly then told the employee “he had access to people who would be willing to pay money in exchange for classified information.”

The FBI ultimately undertook an investigation into Danchenko when it identified him “as an associate of two FBI counterintelligence subjects” and found that he “had previous contact with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers.” Danchenko, according to the filing, “had also informed one Russian intelligence officer that he had interest in entering the Russian diplomatic service.”

The FBI closed its investigation in 2010 after incorrectly concluding Danchenko had left the country.

But it gets even better. 

Notwithstanding that the FBI suspected Danchenko, a Russian national, was a national security threat – potentially a Russian agent — and seemingly showed incompetence in pursuing that lead, and that it uncovered his dishonesty in developing a dossier that it’s chief vetter could never verify any aspects of, he got rewarded for it.

The FBI put him on the payroll as a confidential human source – an informant – from March 2017 through October 2020. Good work if you can get it!

So the Clinton campaign AND the FBI were paying for Russian disinformation on Trump.

What was the purpose of making him an informant? Well, consider that it basically disappeared him, shielding the dubious researcher behind the dubious dossier behind dubious Russiagate from scrutiny, and therefore shielding the FBI, DOJ, and all the other actors in on Russiagate who continued to justify the treasonous Trump-Russia collusion theory for years from scrutiny.

The timing matters here. The FBI made him a paid informant just as then-FBI Director Jim Comey told Congress the Trump campaign was under investigation for Russia ties, and as Nunes found out the Trump transition team had been spied on.

And yet despite all this, as Margot Cleveland convincingly argues, the Durham special counsel paints the FBI and DOJ in its filing as incompetents – duped by Danchenko – rather than acting knowingly, with malice.

This is the same tact the special counsel took in the Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann case that it lost—declaring early in the case that “We are here because the FBI is our institution. It should not be used as a political tool for anyone” – implication being it was manipulated rather than an active participant in Russiagate. 

As in that one, there’s every indication Danchenko will make the case that his lies weren’t material because the FBI/DOJ were wise and cunning, not incompetent dupes – that is that they pursued their Russiagate investigation and that his lies didn’t undermine or subvert it.

If so – and if there are no indictments waiting to blanket members across the FBI and DOJ for their conspiracy to take down Trump – once again, the special counsel will show itself to be a tool of the Deep State rather than a slayer of it.

Now as I’ve argued before, even if Durham and his fellow prosecutors were doggedly devoted to bringing to account the most powerful people within the very institution from which they come – the Department of Justice – which would be perceived as the ultimate betrayal, there is little if any indication that a Washington D.C. jury – a jury from the ultimate company town – would ever convict, as we saw in the Michael Sussmann case.

The Durham special counsel has proven tantalizing in what it has revealed, but simultaneously demoralizing in its unwillingness to move on it and put people in jail who deserve to be.

Transparency is a necessary but insufficient part of justice. There has to be accountability too.

 


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