Donald Trump and some of his key allies have frequently referenced the investigation of special counsel John Durham into the origins of intelligence gathering for the FBI’s Russian collusion case against the former president.
While Durham has been largely absent from the media spotlight in recent months, a bombshell new report revealed that he has issued a subpoena for the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank, for records related to Igor Danchenko, a former analyst for the organization.
Background on his involvement
Danchenko was reportedly a key source of information for the infamous dossier authored by former British spy Christopher Steele.
The largely debunked document was used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Service Act warrants against members of Trump’s inner circle.
In 2009, the FBI reportedly opened a counterinvestigation into Danchenko’s activities after it was revealed that he inquired about obtaining a security clearance. According to The Hill, that information was declassified by former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.
The following year, Danchenko reportedly left the Brookings Institution and went on to work for a number of consulting firms, ultimately landing a gig at Orbis Business Intelligence, which was Steele’s firm at the time.
The information that Danchenko provided to Steele, who was hired by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, was reportedly found to be either false or grossly exaggerated.
“Take it with a grain of salt”
At the time that the Steele dossier was receiving serious scrutiny, Danchenko defended his information and claimed he was not responsible for how it had been used.
“Even raw intelligence from credible sources, I take it with a grain of salt,” he said at the time. “Who knows, what if it’s not particularly accurate? Is it just a rumor or is there more to it?”
When Durham subpoenaed the Brookings Institution late last year, the organization said that it was in full compliance with the request for information related to Danchenko’s activities while he was employed as an analyst.
Michael Cavadel, the group’s general counsel, said at the time: “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.”
It is still unclear precisely how Durham hopes to use the requested information as part of a probe described as quite broad by several media outlets. Time will tell how the investigation concludes, but Trump’s supporters are hoping that it provides the evidence needed to support the former president’s assertion that the Russian collusion case was nothing but a partisan “witch hunt.”