Shortly before the 2016 election, the FBI offered former British spy Christopher Steele “up to $1 million” to prove his dossier’s explosive claims about Donald Trump, according to the FBI. A senior analyst testified on Tuesday.
The cash offer came during a meeting abroad in October 2016 between Steele and several FBI officials who were trying to corroborate Steele’s allegations that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to win the election. done.
FBI supervising analyst Brian Auten testified that Steele never received the money because he could not “prove the allegations.”
Auten also refused to provide the names of his sources during that meeting, and Steele did not give the FBI anything to back up his explosive dossier claims during that meeting.
Auten was testifying in the criminal trial of Igor Danchenko, the primary source for Steele’s dossier being prosecuted by special prosecutor John Durham. Danchenko has pleaded not guilty to his five counts of lying to the FBI about obtaining the information that was ultimately put into the dossier. His trial began Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Durham, a Trump-era prosecutor looking for wrongdoing in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, handled most of the courtroom arguments on Tuesday, personally questioning Auten on the witness stand.
In his opening statement, prosecutors said Danchenko “fabricated sources” and “covered up sources” in an interview with the FBI in January 2017.
Prosecutor Michael Kierty said Danchenko’s alleged lies “corrupted” the functioning of the FBI.
Specifically, Danchenko’s fraud allegations tainted surveillance warrants the FBI sought against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017.
“Those lies were important,” Keerti said, because the FBI was basically duped by Danchenko and included his inaccurate information in the application filed with the judge to secure Page’s wiretapping. I got
“This lawsuit is about protecting the functioning and integrity of our agency,” Keerty said.
Danchenko’s defense team, in its own opening statement, accused Durham of trying to convict by tricking the jury.
Attorney Danny Onorato criticized the prosecution’s “complex theories” about the case, telling jurors that Durham was “trying to convince you that his truth answer is somehow wrong.” Let’s go,” he said.
He told jurors that Durham wanted to “defy common sense, logic and reality” and “rewrite the dictionary” to convict Danchenko.
“Truthful statements to FBI agents … are not criminal,” added Onorato.
Things heated up when Onorato accused Keerti of lying in his own opening statement. Specifically, Onorato disputed Keerty’s comment that Danchenko was granted immunity during his FBI interview.
“That’s a lie…he just lied to you,” Honorato told the jury. “Think about it as you look at the government case.”
Durham later asked District Judge Anthony Terenga to admonish Honorat. The judge told jurors that Onorato’s argument for the supposed indemnity agreement “needs clarity” because the agreement provided Danchenko with partial immunity.
Durham was appointed by former Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to find government misconduct in the Trump and Russia investigations. Three years later, Durham won only one low-level FBI attorney conviction.
But his team used the Danchenko case on Tuesday to sort of bring the FBI to justice, exposing some of the FBI’s dirty laundry.
Keilty said in his opening statement that the case would cover the FBI’s “troublesome conduct” in connection with Page’s surveillance. He said the bureau “should have exposed” Danchenko’s alleged lies, but “never”.
Durham then spent a good deal of time showing jurors the warrant application that the FBI had filed to watch Page. He highlighted how the FBI used information from Steele’s papers to bolster its probable cause claim to secure the warrant, even after it became.
These FISA warrants were heavily criticized in a 2019 report by the Department of Justice Inspector General that revealed a series of errors, flaws and omissions. Two of his four court-approved warrants were later deemed invalid.
Durham seemed to break new ground on Dossier’s oft-trodden topic with his revelation of a million-dollar offer to Steele. CNN previously reported that the FBI reimbursed Steele, who was an FBI informant, for some costs.
But the special counsel also exposed many of Trump’s lies about the Steele dossier. That’s why the FBI launched an investigation into possible collusion with Russian agents in his campaign in 2016.
This false claim has been refuted dozens of times over the years in official Justice Department documents, bipartisan reports from Congress, and numerous court filings. That was rebutted Tuesday when Durham asked FBI official Auten to explain to jurors why the Trump-Russia investigation was launched late in the month.
Auten confirmed what has long been known: the diplomacy that the Trump campaign aide offered the Russians to help Trump beat Hillary Clinton after the US government obtained information from a friendly nation. After receiving information that he had bragged to one of the officials, an investigation was launched.
The situation became even more interesting as Trump repeatedly acted as Durham’s cheerleader and said Durham would verify his allegations of massive government misconduct regarding the Russian probe. He asserted the basic truth about the Russian investigation that Trump has lied to for years.
Steele’s documents include unconfirmed allegations of Trump’s Russian ties, including alleged business dealings with Trump, rumors of ludicrous secret meetings in Moscow, and his campaign in 2016. included claims that it cooperated with the Kremlin.
Trump vehemently denied the allegations, and Steele’s work has lost considerable credibility over the years. Today, the dossier is largely viewed as an unproven collection of rumors and gossip .
Regarding allegations of collusion, Special Counsel Robert Mueller uncovered dozens of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, but failed to establish a criminal conspiracy.
This story has been updated with additional details.