- Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson have submitted a broad request for records related to the Steele dossier and U.S. agencies’ Trump-related surveillance activities.
- The Republicans are asking the Justice Department for records related to Igor Danchenko, an analyst who was recently identified as the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele.
- Grassley and Johnson are also pressing the CIA and State Department for documents related to Steele.
Two Republican senators are pressing multiple government agencies for the release of a slew of documents related to the Trump-Russia probe, including records of a former Justice Department official’s correspondence with Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst identified as the primary source for the Steele dossier.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson sent letters on Tuesday to the Justice Department, FBI, State Department, CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking records about surveillance activities against the Trump campaign and other related issues.
“A number of these requests are outstanding, and we have developed follow-up requests based on information we have received to date,” Grassley and Johnson wrote in the letters, which were first reported by the website Just the News.
The letter to the Justice Department and FBI seeks records of correspondence between Danchenko, the purported dossier source, and David Laufman, who served as chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence and export control section until 2018.
Danchenko was identified as the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele last week, following the declassification of an FBI memo of Danchenko’s interviews with agents in January 2017.
Laufman arranged the interview, according to a Justice Department Inspector General’s (IG) report.
Danchenko’s statement undermined the dossier’s credibility, according to the IG report. He told FBI agents that he provided Steele with rumor and speculation about Donald Trump and members of his campaign, but that Steele passed it off as verified information.
Grassley and Johnson also asked the FBI for information about Sergei Millian, a Belarusian-American businessman who was accused in press reports of being a key source for the dossier’s most explosive allegations.
Danchenko undercut the theory that Millian was a major source for the dossier. He told investigators that he had a brief phone conversation in July 2016 with someone who he believed to be Millian. Danchenko said that the person on the other end of the phone call, who did not identify himself, did not provide derogatory information about Trump or the campaign.
Steele, a former MI6 officer, told the FBI that Millian was a source for allegations that the Kremlin was blackmailing Trump, and that members of the campaign were conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Grassley and Johnson are asking the CIA to provide any records related to Steele from January 2016 onward. They are also asking the agency for documents regarding Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, as well as two mystery professors: Stefan Halper and Joseph Mifsud.
Halper met with Page and Papadopoulos in 2016 as a confidential human source for the FBI. Mifsud was the Maltese professor who met with Papadopoulos in London in April 2016, and allegedly made reference to the Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The Republicans are also pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents regarding Steele’s contacts with State Department officials in 2016, as well as the activities of a group of Clinton operatives who disseminated a second dossier full of lurid allegations against Trump.
The senators want records of Steele’s contacts with former State Department officials Victoria Nuland, Kathleen Kavalec, and Jonathan Winer.
Winer played a key role in spreading the dossier around to government officials and the media.
Winer arranged for Steele to meet with Kavalec at State Department headquarters on Oct. 11, 2016. He also served as a background source for two journalists who wrote stories based on Steele’s information prior to the election. Winer also met with the founders of Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Winer handled a second Trump dossier that contained allegations similar to those in Steele’s. That report was compiled by Cody Shearer, a former journalist and longtime Clinton operative. Winer obtained Shearer’s dossier from Sidney Blumenthal, another Clinton insider.
Shearer is the brother-in-law to Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state who served as president of the Brookings Institution through 2017.
Talbott reached out to Steele in August 2016 regarding his Trump work. Steele told a British court this month that he provided Talbott with a copy of the dossier in early November 2016 after Talbott said he wanted to provide the document to then-Secretary of State John Kerry and others at the State Department.
Grassley, Johnson and another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, have so far been successful in forcing the release of documents related to the dossier and Trump probe.
Graham released the Danchenko memo on July 17, and Grassley and Johnson released declassified footnotes from the IG’s report that showed that the FBI had evidence of possible Russian disinformation in the dossier.
Author: Chuck Ross