Jim Comey Fought to Include a Russian Spy’s Disinformation in the Report on Russian Election Interference

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FILE – In this file July 7, 2016, photo then-FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Oversight Committee to discuss Hillary Clinton’s email investigation, at the Capitol in Washington. The Justice Department’s watchdog faults former Comey for breaking with protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But it says his decisions were not driven by political bias ahead of the 2016 election.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

 

This is like a “Spy v. Spy” cartoon in Mad Magazine (does that reference date me?).

The revelation that Igor Danchenko, the “Primary Sub-Source” (PSS) upon which nearly all of the Steele Dossier memos were based, was likely a Russian intelligence asset is even more flabbergasting when you think back over the many episodes during which senior management of the FBI staked their reputations and careers on the allegations in that Dossier attributed to Danchenko — the Russian spy.

AFTER the effort to secure the FISA warrant, the FBI discovered that the PSS referenced in the Steele Dossier memos was Mr. Danchenko — the Russian spy — and FBI counterintelligence databases revealed that Mr. Danchenko — the Russian spy — had made a “pitch” to potential Obama Administration officials to sell classified information to “people he knew”.  It just so happened that in the time frame that Danchenko — the Russian spy — knew Russian intelligence agents stationed in the United States, and visited with one of them at the Russian Embassy.

AFTER they learned the PSS in Steele’s memos was Danchenko — the Russian spy — Jim Comey aggressively argued with the CIA to include information from the Steele Dossier memos sourced to Danchenko — the Russian spy — regarding the allegations that the Russians were engaged in a clandestine arrangement with Donald Trump to win the election over Hillary Clinton.

Recall that after Pres. Trump had won the election, Pres. Obama ordered the hasty assembly of an “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) on the nature and impact of Russian interference so that he could take action to sanction Russia for its conduct before his term expired.

The CIA, FBI, and NSA intelligence analysts quickly gathered available intelligence on the Russian efforts and began making “assessments” with regard to the motives of various Russian entities and actors involved.  There was agreement among the agencies on the issue of Russia having engaged in “active measures” to influence the campaign — but not the election process itself — but there were varying levels of agreement and support on the question of the motives behind such active measures.

One issue over which there was disagreement was on the question of including in the body of the ICA information taken from the Steele Dossier memos.  Normally, an ICA is a collection of “intelligence” gathered by the various US intelligence community agencies who conduct intelligence-gathering operations.  The CIA and NSA did not view the material in the Steele Dossier memos to be “intelligence” gathered by US intelligence agencies and took the position that the Dossier material should not be in the ICA.

Jim Comey disagreed on the basis that Pres. Obama had asked for “everything” the IC agencies had — not just intelligence gathered by the IC agencies themselves.  The internal debate was revealed two months ago in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Russia Hoax affair.

The CIA team working on the ICA first learned on December 20, 2016, of information the FBI held and wanted to include in the ICA.  Despite the fact that the ICA explicitly excluded ongoing investigations, FBI sought to introduce a summary of the material from former [REDACTED] officer Christopher Steele.

The Committee review the debate over whether and where to include the Steele materials with all participants to the drafting of the ICA.  In the first meeting of the Committee with the Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI, he articulated the FBI’s concerns…

The Assistant Director for [REDACTED] recounted a conversation with FBI Assistant Director for CD on December 22, and recalled the FBI’s interest in “weaving their dossier in the actual text of the report.”

The Assistant Director for [REDACTED] told the Committee that when she asked the FBI Assistant Director for DC for more infomraiotn on the sources for the dossier, the Assistant Director for DC told her that the FBI’s primary source “had not provided information regarding the sub-sources, but that [FBI was] able to independently corroborate some of the sub-sources.  Assistant Director for [REDACTED] said the FBI Assistant Director told her “We feel very strongly that it should be included and woven into the text….”

Here is what Jim Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee about the debate:

I insisted that we bring it to the party, and I was agnostic as to whether it was footnoted in the document itself, put as an annex.  I have some recollection of talking to John Brennan maybe at some point saying:  I don’t really care, but I think it is relevant and so out to be part of the consideration.

John Brennan described Comey as being more forceful than that:

Jim Comey and the FBI felt strongly that, here is a very sensitive document that is being produce by the CIA, NSA, and FBI about Russian attempts to interfere in the election and Russian attempts to denigrate one candidate and promote prospects of the other.  The FBI has acquired this information that comes from a former intelligence officer from a pretty respectable service [REDACTED] that includes information of potential kompromat related to Donald Trump.

The Committee explained how the final agreement was reached:

On December 27, a SVTC (Secured Video Teleconference) was held between four deputies of CIA, NSA, FBI, and ODNI, in order to reach an agreement on where to place the Steele materials in the ICA, with the FBI insisting it remain in the body of the ICA.

But let us now take a closer look at the letter sent to Senator Lindsey Graham last week by the FBI with regard to the FBI having identified Danchenko — the Russian spy — as the Steele PSS from whom most of the dossier information originated from.

Between May 2009 and March 2011, the FBI maintained an investigation into the individual who later would be identified as Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source (“the 2009 investigation”). As explained below, the FBI commenced this investigation based on information by the FBI indicating that the Primary Sub-source may be a threat to national security.

A review of FBI databases revealed that the Primary Sub-source [Danchenko, the Russian Spy] had contact in 2006 with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers.

In September 2006, the Primary Sub-source [Danchenko, the Russian spy] was in contact with a known Russian intelligence officer. During these conversations, the Russian Intelligence Officer invited the Primary Sub-source [Danchenko, the Russian spy] to the Russian Embassy to see his office. The Primary Sub-source [Danchenko, the Russian spy] told the Russian Intelligence Officer that he/she was interested in entering the Russian diplomatic service one day.

FBI information further identified, in 2005, the Primary Sub-source [Danchenko, the Russian spy] making contact with a Washington, D.C.–based Russian officer. It was noted that the Russian officer and the Primary Sub-source [Danchenko, the Russian spy] seemed very familiar with each other.

In December 2016, the CROSSFIRE HURRICANE team identified the Primary Sub-source — DANCHENKO, THE RUSSIAN SPY — used by Christopher Steele and, at that time, became familiar with the 2009 investigation.

In December 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team identified the Primary Sub-Source as Igor Danchenko and learned of the 2009 counterintelligence case on him where he was assessed as a Russian spy.

That is the same “December 2016” that Jim Comey was arguing to have the Primary Sub-Source’s information “woven into” the text of the ICA.

Jim Comey wanted information — for all he knew Russian intelligence disinformation — from an assessed Russian intelligence asset, to be included in the text of the ICA, on the basis that it was TRUE.  There was no discussion about caveating the information based on the sourcing.  Not at all — the FBI couldn’t bring itself to tell the other IC agency partners that the Primary Sub-Source was likely a Russian intelligence asset that they had planned to get a FISA warrant against in the summer of 2010 which presupposed that they thought he was a Russian Agent.

Andy McCabe fought to include the information in the text of the ICA as late as the Deputies Conference on December 27.

McCabe and Comey are both scheduled to testify in the next several days before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The first question to each from Chairman Graham must be

“Did you know the Primary Sub-Source was assessed as a Russian Agent at the time you fought to put the Steele Dossier information from the Sub-Source in the ICA?” 

There is no good answer to that question, gentlemen.  Good luck.

 

 

 

 

 



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