The office of Special Counsel John Durham has confirmed that Igor Danchenko, a key source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele, has been arrested. This is the third arrest by Durham who is moving toward the prosecution stage of his investigation into the origins of the Russian collusion scandal. Durham is variously described as either painfully methodical or positively glacial as a prosecutor. But he is widely credited with being a dogged and absolutely apolitical prosecutor. Danchenko’s arrest is a seismic development and confirmed Durham is far from done with his investigation.
Washington was recently rocked by the indictment of Michael Sussmann, former counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, for his alleged role in spreading a false Russia conspiracy theory.
Now Danchenko is being charged with five counts of making false statements.
Danchenko is widely referenced as the sub-source for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele for his controversial dossier. That dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Danchenko told the FBI that the dossier was “unsubstantiated” and said that Steele asked him to look for any “compromising” information on Trump. Mr. Danchenko worked for the Brookings Institution, a liberal Washington think-tank that often produced reports critical of Trump.
Danchenko is not someone who immediately comes across as an apex defendant — the highest target in an investigation. He was a key source used by others to advance false or unsubstantiated claims against Trump. He is the type of defendant that prosecutors pressure to flip against those who retained him or used him in this effort. In other words, he strikes me as someone who can be used as a building block to apex defendants.
Potential apex targets above him in the investigation range from Steele himself to Clinton general counsel Marc Elias to Clinton campaign officials.
The indictment circles around an unnamed figure called PR-Executive-1 who was a close Clinton adviser who held high positions in the Democratic party and prior Clinton campaigns. Most embarrassing are references to the Clinton adviser meeting with possible Russian intelligence figures and other Russian sources, including this line:
PR Executive-1 gifted to Russian Sub-Source-1 an autobiography of Hillary Clinton, which he signed and inscribed with the handwritten message, “To my good friend [first name of Russian Sub-Source-1], A Great Democrat.”
That is one book I think Hillary Clinton would like back.
The indictment describes the individual in this way:
“PR Executive-1 had served as (1) chairman of a national Democratic political organization, (2) state chairman of former President Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, and (3) an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Moreover, beginning in or about 1997, President Clinton appointed PR Executive-! to two four-year terms on an advisory commission at the U.S. State Department. With respect to the 2016 Clinton Campaign, PR Executive-! actively campaigned and participated in calls and events as a volunteer on behalf of Hillary Clinton.”
There is no indication if Durham has possible evidence of criminal acts by those figures but there is every indication that he is not done by a long shot with this investigation.
Here is the indictment: Danchenko indictment