Six Degrees From Brookings: How a Liberal Think Tank Keeps Coming Up in the Russian Collusion Investigation

The latest indictment by Special Counsel John Durham has created a stir in Washington as the investigation into the Russian collusion scandal exposed new connections to the Clinton campaign.  The indictment of  Igor Danchenko exposes additional close advisers to Hillary Clinton who allegedly pushed discredited and salacious allegations in the Steele dossier. However, one of the most interesting new elements was the role of a liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution, in the alleged effort to create a false scandal of collusion. Indeed, Brookings appears so often in accounts related to the Russian collusion scandal that it could be Washington’s alternative to the Kevin Bacon parlor game. It appears that many of these figures are within six degrees of Brookings.

The fact is that Washington remains a small town for the ruling elite where degrees of separation can be quite small as figures move in and out of government. Moreover, think tanks are often the parking lots for party loyalists as they wait (and work) for new Administrations. The Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation play a similar role for conservative figures.

However, even in Washington’s inbred environment, the layers of connections to Brookings is remarkable in the Durham indictments and accounts of the effort to create a Russian collusion scandal. The effort was hardly a secret before anyone knew the name of the former British spy Christopher Steele. On July 28, former CIA Director John Brennan briefed then President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged “plan” to tie Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” Notes from the meeting state the plan to invent a collusion narrative was “allegedly approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.” That was three days before the Russian investigation was initiated.

Durham is detailing how this plan was carried out and many of those referenced are within not six but two degrees of separation from Brookings.

Brookings played a large role in pushing the Russian collusion narrative, hiring a variety of experts who then populated media outlets like MSNBC and CNN stating confidently that Trump was clearly incriminated in a series of dubious criminal acts. While no such crimes were ever charged, let alone prosecuted, Brookings maintained a deep bench of enabling experts like Susan Hennessey (now a national security adviser in the Biden Administration), Ben Wittes (who defended James Comey in his leaking of FBI memos) and Norm Eisen (who then become counsel in the Trump impeachment effort). This included the Brookings site, LawFare, which ran a steady stream of columns on how Trump could be charged for crimes ranging from obstruction to bribery.

However, that type of media cross-pollination is common. What is most surprising is how the indictment seems to map out roads that keep leading back to Brookings.

The latest indicted figure, Danchenko, worked at Brookings. He proved to be the key unnamed source for Christopher Steele and later admitted to the FBI that the information attributed to him was not just “unsubstantiated” but, after being reworked by Steele, was unrecognizable from the original gossip or speculation.

It appears that Danchenko was introduced to former British spy Christopher Steele by Brookings employee Fiona Hill. If that name seems familiar, Hill secured a position on President Trump’s National Security Council and later became a key witness against him in the first Trump impeachment over the Ukraine scandal.

Steele also testified in London that his friend and then Brookings President Strobe Talbott was involved in briefings and inquiries on the development of the dossier. Talbott is also a former Clinton administration diplomat and Clinton friend who served in a high-ranking position under Hillary Clinton. (Another figure, Cody Shearer, who has been mentioned in accounts developing and spreading his own collusion claims, was the brother of Talbott’s late wife).

When Steele was called to the State Department for a briefing on his dossier, Talbot sat next to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who is currently at Brookings. The role of figures at Brookings in the dossier is still developing but all roads seem to lead back to the think tank.

Even when it became clear that false statements made in the secret FISA applications targeted Trump associate Carter Page, the secret court selected David Kris, who wrote for Brookings’ LawFare despite his prior denial that the FBI misled the court and criticism of Trump).

Brookings has long been viewed as effectively the research arm for Democratic figures and liberal causes. Yet, even in the Baconesque world of Washington insiders, it is rare to see a think tank connected on so many levels to a criminal investigation. Like much in our politics, these connections will mean different things to different people. For conservatives, Brookings looks like the mothership for this scandal with associates coordinating meetings and roles in the metastasization of the scandal.  For liberals, the connections simply show the influence of the liberal think tank and any highlighting of the think tank is gaslighting a new “Trilateral Commission” narrative.

With the exception of Danchenko, there is no evidence that any of these Brookings-related individuals have committed criminal acts or are suspected of such acts by Durham. However, these connections have already factored in the investigation and are likely to be addressed in any final Special Counsel report. Brookings Institution’s influence on the Russian collusion scandal will likely remain central to Durham’s unravelling of how the FBI was duped into the Russian investigation and the role of Clinton operatives in that effort. Notably, on September 9, 2015, Hillary Clinton appeared at Brookings and stressed there are “a lot of long-time friends and colleagues who perch here at Brookings including Strobe.” The question is whether that perch will become increasingly precarious as Durham continues his investigation.

104 thoughts on “Six Degrees From Brookings: How a Liberal Think Tank Keeps Coming Up in the Russian Collusion Investigation”

  1. Turley, a Swamp Rat extraordinaire, if there ever was one, talking out-of-both-sides of his mouth (as usual), in his last paragraph, quote, “With the exception of Danchenko, there is no evidence that any of these Brookings-related individuals have committed criminal acts or are suspected of such acts by Durham.” Note the Turley worm deploys the compound sentence; as if we were all born yesterday. But let’s go-slow for Jonathan…yeeeeeeesssss, “these Brookings-related individuals” HAVE committed crimes….and the current lack of evidence “of such” from Durham merely means the investigation is ONGOING (`Ever hear that term Jonathan?). Let us be clear…a pro-Soviet skank named Nuland, now slithering at Brookings, is up to her Marxist-Manifesto neck in this scandal. Crimea was a democratically determined outcome….not a “Russian invasion”?

    1. Aguilar says:

      “Turley, a Swamp Rat extraordinaire, if there ever was one, talking out-of-both-sides of his mouth (as usual), in his last paragraph, quote, “With the exception of Danchenko, there is no evidence that any of these Brookings-related individuals have committed criminal acts or are suspected of such acts by Durham.” Note the Turley worm deploys the compound sentence; as if we were all born yesterday.”

      You see? What did I tell ya? The die-hard Trumpists will turn on Turley in the end because he is NOT Trumpist enough. It’s only beginning….

      1. Ohhhhhhhh, so criticizing Swamp Rats means the source is a “Trumpist”?? You really are a sorry sort . . . everything in that “brain” of yours is ‘Left versus Right.” Truly PATHETIC. Note, your type of “brain” cannot; if its life depended on it, post something substantive, something on-point. Not a chance. Go back to your bar stool. What next, I endorse Trump’s Operation Warp Speed?! Get lost.

      2. You could not be more ignorant of the corruption within the deep are clueless as. To the criminal partnership of the deep state and corporate central banks

  2. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, exempt from federal taxes, receiving tax-deductible charitable donations, Brookings describes itself as independent and nonpartisan.
    It is against the law for 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in poartisan activities.
    Therefore Brookings must lose it’s tax-exempt status, along with many others including Ford, Soros and Rockefeller tax-exempt foundations that engage in partisan activities.

  3. Good to see a mainstream commentator has wisened up to Brookings and specifically the coterie of ex and future DOJ / FBI hangers on that populate Brookings LawFare division. This bunch have been involved in each Trump impeachment (especially the Eric Ciamerella “whistleblower” ruse), the Christine Blasey-Ford / Kavanaugh fiasco and even that questionable recent Facebook whistleblower.

    If one does some research they would find a LawFare paper from about November 2016 that lays out precisely how to subvert and remove incoming president, Donald Trump. This has all been planned by former Obama Admin officials, ClintonWorld operatives and their enablers in Congress and the DNC. Brookings / LawFare have been the legal vehicle to essentially attempt a coup d’état.

  4. Many of these people testified before Congress
    And will again

    If they lied before or now they should be prosecuted

  5. It is not clear that brookings committed any crimes
    It is crystal clear they perpetrated a fraud on the country and should not be trusted and anyone funding them should be presumed to be crooked

  6. The crime of lying to government agents should be eliminated
    Whether we are talking sussman or papadoulis

    Actual obstruction of justice or false reports or lying to congress are the relevant charges

  7. The Ukraine whistleblower, Eric Voldemort, also worked at Brookings back when Igor and Fiona were there.

    The three were apparently good friends until Igor moved back to Russia 2 years into an FBI counterintelligence investigation into him on suspicion that he was a Russian spy.

    It gets curiouser and curiouser. And what is perhaps the most curious of all is why Robert “Fusion who?” Mueller would meticulously excise any mention of Danchenko’s name from his report, referring to him only as the “Primary Sub-source”.

    Also curious is why, when his mandate was to investigate Russian election interference, Mueller opted to NOT pursue Danchenko as a potential Russian election meddler. And curiouser than that, why Mueller would:

    1) decline an invitation to interview Julian Assange, who swore up and down that he didn’t get the DNC emails from the Russians and that he had proof of that, and

    2) decline an offer on the part of Putin to interrogate the alleged Russian hackers

    The most curious part of this entire debacle would appear to be how selectively curious those involved were.

    The FBI were desperately curious to hear Michael Flynn’s recollection of a phone call they already had transcribed, but were completely incurious as to Assange’s assertion that he received the DNC emails from someone other than the Russians…

    Am I saying the Mueller Probe was a coverup? Why yes, I think I might be saying that.

  8. I hate to read this, I always admired The Brookings Institute; I did not always agree but I thought they did try to search and report the truth.
    It now appears that they are just another troll of the liberal progressives and it is such a shame. The truth is lost in their bias, and again, such a shame.

  9. I’d say none of them were duped they knew what the goal was and they all worked together to make it happen.

  10. I wouldn’t say the FBI was ‘duped’ with Strozk, Page, McCabe and Comey gleefully playing along. FBI higher-ups willfully participated. Not to mention, Comey’s bailing out Hillary Clinton from federal charges stemming from her possession, dissemination and negligent handling of classified material.

    1. The FBI wasn’t duped, they were willing accomplices who knew their sources were lying.

    1. The Deep State is rotten.. the DOJ FBI work for the government and. Corporate masters.. not the American people.. these so called public servants see us as their servants… they are mediocre thugs.. unfit for this nation or their positions.. comey. Strzok, McCabe brennan should all be in prison for their crimes against the Constitution

  11. Its about time the Kerry State department’s Jonathan Winer, Steele’s handler who curated reports for Victoria Nuland, and his private client Bill Browder, for whom he acted as lobbyist for the Magnitsky Act, and personal attorney, are investigated for their role in setting up the Trump Tower meeting. Leaked emails from the State Department officer Robert Otto, strongly implies Browder knew about the Trump Tower meeting in advance, as he had the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya under surveillance in Moscow, on 6 June, three days before the meeting. Further, Browder had an appeal hearing in New York, on the morning of 9 June, which he knew Veselnitskaya would attend. Browder was engaged in a year long attempt to suppress his damning deposition in the Prevezon Case, a case he initiated, in which his entire Magnitsky story was shown to be a complete fabrication. Browder had every motive to discredit Veselnitskaya and the US legal firm Baker-Hostetler, who had coincidentally hired Glenn Simpson three years earlier, to do background research on Browder, and it was most likely Browder that leaked to conservative media, that Veselnitskaya and Simpson were “together” before and after the Trump Tower meeting. The “second” meeting was a dinner for the entire legal team, two days later. The news of the Trump Tower meeting broke almost one year later, at the epicenter of the Russiagate scandal, after someone (State Dept ??) tipped off the New York Times that Jared Kuchner failed to declare the meeting on his security clearance application. Browder got to do his smear campaign, Steele had “proof” of the “high level Russian meeting” in the Dossier. Rob Goldstone, who conned Don Jr and Veselnitskaya into the meeting, conveniently left on a long, around the world cruise.

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