The Durham Investigation: A Primer
Indictments filed by Durham show that the “Steele Dossier” and “Alfa-Bank” allegations of a conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin were entirely concocted.
Among the key takeaways from the Durham investigation:
Durham’s indictment of Michael Sussmann and other court filings reveal how senior members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign formed a “joint venture” with lawyers, opposition researchers, foreign nationals, and computer data analysts to produce false opposition research against then-candidate Donald Trump and aggressively disseminated that disinformation to reporters, the FBI, and others.3
See, e.g., Indictment, United States v. Michael A. Sussmann, Crim. Case No. 21–582 (CRC) (D.D.C. Sept. 16, 2021), ECF No. 1, available at https://www
.courtlistener.com/docket/60390583/1/united-states-v-sussmann/ [hereinafter Sussmann Indictment]; The Government’s Motions in Limine, United States v. Michael A. Sussmann, Crim. Case No. 21–582 (CRC) (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2022), ECF No. 61, at 13-32 (emphasis added) (seeking the admission of certain communications because they were “made in furtherance of a joint venture between and among the defendant, Tech Executive-1, and representatives or agents of the Clinton Campaign”), available at https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.dcd.235638/gov.uscourts.dcd
Durham’s filings indicate that the central component of the joint venture’s disinformation campaign—the so-called “Steele Dossier”—consisted almost entirely of rumors, innuendo, and outright falsehoods fabricated by “sources” reporting to former British spy Christopher Steele.4
Indictment, United States v. Igor Y. Danchenko, Crim. Case No. 21–245 (AJT) (E.D. Va. Nov. 3, 2021), ECF No. 1, available at https://www.courtlistener
.com/docket/60698540/1/united-states-v-danchenko/ [hereinafter Danchenko Indictment]; Matthew Mosk, Durham Probe Offers Fresh Support for Man Who Has Long Denied Being ‘Steele Dossier’ Source, ABC News (Nov. 11, 2021, 8:27 PM) (stating that Steele is U.K. Person-1 identified in the indictment), https://abcnews.go.com/US/durham-probe-offers-fresh-support-man-long-denied/story?id=81119325
According to Durham, the core allegation of the Steele Dossier—that an “extensive conspiracy” existed between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin—was invented out of whole cloth by former Brookings Institution policy analyst Igor Danchenko, a Russian national on Steele’s payroll.5
Danchenko Indictment, supra note 4.
The FBI’s interviews of Danchenko establish that the most salacious allegation in the Steele Dossier—that Trump was present during the performance of a lewd act at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton—was fabricated by Danchenko and/or Charles Dolan, a public relations executive living in Washington, D.C., with lengthy ties to the Democratic Party.6
Interview of Igor Danchenko, Federal Bureau of Investigation (Jan. 25, 2017), https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/February%209,%202017%20Electronic%20Communication.pdf
[hereinafter Danchenko FBI Interview].
Durham’s indictment of Danchenko shows that other significant parts of the Steele Dossier—such as the allegation that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen travelled to Prague to meet with Russian conspirators—were invented by Olga Galkina, a Russian national living in Cyprus who had ambitions of joining the State Department under Hillary Clinton if she won the presidential election.7
Danchenko Indictment, supra note 4.
According to Durham’s indictment of former Perkins Coie law firm attorney Michael Sussmann, he directed an effort by a group of computer scientists including Rodney Joffe, April Lorenzen, and others to manufacture a false narrative that the Trump organization and the Kremlin had a secret channel of communications.8https://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/report/the-durham-investigation-primer