Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, Iowa., and Ron Johnson, Wis., have demanded that Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray provide them with records on the FBI’s payment of an informant who served as a major source for the now-debunked Steele Dossier.
Russian analyst Igor Danchenko was on the FBI payroll until October of 2020, according to court filings from special counsel John Durham who is prosecuting him for lying to the bureau. With the trial fast approaching, Durham has sought to present a litany of allegedly false statements Danchenko made to the bureau apart from those for which he faces charges. In so doing, the special counsel aims to showcase a pattern and connect the trial to his larger effort of investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.
The filings have prompted congressional scrutiny of the FBI and the DOJ’s interactions with the questionable informant. Grassley and Johnson have specifically sought to review the FBI’s relationship with Danchenko and demanded that Garland provide them with “all records relating to government payments made to Danchenko, the counterintelligence investigation into him and his later hiring.”
In their letter, the senators reference a prior counterintelligence investigation into Danchenko, whom the intelligence community previously suspected was a Kremlin agent.
“As you are aware, in May 2009, the FBI opened a preliminary investigation into Danchenko based on his reported attempts to facilitate payment for classified information,” they noted. “The preliminary investigation then proceeded to a full investigation because Danchenko was identified as an associate of two FBI counterintelligence subjects,” they continued. “The FBI also determined that Danchenko had contact in 2006 with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers.”
They further questioned why the bureau retained Danchenko on the payroll despite their awareness of previously security concerns in relation to him.
“This extraordinary fact pattern requires additional information from the Justice Department and FBI relating to why Danchenko was placed on the payroll and paid by the taxpayer to assist in the federal government’s flawed investigation into President Trump,” they concluded.