The trial of Steele “dossier” primary sub-source Igor Danchenko got off to a quiet start this week. Jury selection took place on Monday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, followed by opening remarks. But as of Tuesday, there’s already quite a stunning-but-not-surprising revelation: That in October 2016, the FBI offered Christopher Steele, author of the dossier, a cool $1 million if he could corroborate its salacious claims. Needless to say, he couldn’t, so they got to keep the money but used the dossier, anyway.
FBI supervisory analyst Brian Auten, under questioning by Special Counsel John Durham himself, testified Tuesday that Steele never got the money because he could not “prove the allegations.” In fact, Steele gave them nothing in the way of corroboration, not even the names of his sources.
Recall that Danchenko even TOLD them it was only bar talk, guys just shooting the breeze, nothing verified at all. From that and from this new Steele information, we may safely surmise that the FBI absolutely knew the dossier was worthless when they played it up as “Crown material,” golden intelligence from the Brits.
Former deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo observed on FOX NEWS late Tuesday that even though Igor Danchenko is the defendant, “it’s almost as if the FBI itself is on trial.” Our hope has long been that Durham had that in mind all along, knowing the ‘justice’ system, at least as it was going to play out in a DC courtroom, was not going to be his friend. He might not get convictions, but at least he might convict the FBI in the court of public opinion.
In Yoo’s words, “The FBI...took that information, believed it [editorial aside: well, that’s debatable], didn’t double-check it, and then used it to go to a FISA court to use the awesome powers of the intelligence community and the FBI and the ‘Justice’ Department to surveil Donald Trump’s campaign. That crossed a red line that had been in place since Watergate, that the intelligence agencies were not to use their awesome powers to interfere in presidential elections.”
The prosecution’s opening statement did maintain the assumption that the FBI had been duped about the validity of the dossier. As Margot Cleveland has said, this narrative doesn’t seem consistent with what we learned in September: that even after the FBI knew Danchenko had lied, they made him a paid confidential human source. Cleveland believes Durham's implication that liars fooled the FBI undermines his case. In some ways, he seems to be putting the FBI on trial, but in this one respect, he’s letting them off the hook. What gives?
In other DOJ news, the Biden ‘Justice’ Department has urged the Supreme Court to reject President Trump’s emergency appeal to allow the special master to review about 100 purportedly “classified” documents taken from Mar-A-Lago by the FBI, as Judge Aileen Cannon originally ruled he should. Trump had argued that some of those documents might have been his personal material, and also that the special master needed to review materials with classified markings to see if they should still be considered classified.
Judge Cannon’s ruling was overturned unanimously by a three-judge panel –- two of which were Trump appointees –- from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and the Supreme Court might hesitate to get involved, though we wish they would. As it stands now, the prosecutors get to go through all the “classified” documents on their own without letting the special master or even Trump and/or his legal team see them. That just doesn’t seem right.