Charles Dolan, a longtime Democratic agent, testified Thursday that he lied to Igor Danchenko in 2016 when he said he had inside information from a GOP source about Paul Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign — information he actually learned through open-source reporting that was later used in the record and attributed to “an American political figure associated with Donald Trump.”
Dolan testified at the trial of Danchenko, the Russian national who was the main sub-source for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his anti-Trump record.
Special Advisor John Durham charged Danchenko with five counts of making false statements to the FBI. Danchenko pleaded not guilty to all charges.
During questioning, the Durham team revealed an email from Danchenko to Dolan dated August 19, 2016, in which Danchenko asked Dolan for inside information about Manafort’s departure as campaign chairman. Trump.
“I’m working on a related project against Trump,” Danchenko wrote. “This is an important project for me… Our objectives clearly coincide.”
During questioning, Dolan said he thought Danchenko was referring to him as a Democrat, and possibly his opinion of Donald Trump.
Durham asked if Dolan had “an opinion on Donald Trump?”
Dolan replied, “Yes.”
“What is that?” asked Durham.
Dolan said, “Well…pretty negative.”
Dolan responded the same day, August 19, 2016, to Danchenko: “Let me dig around Manafort…I’m pretty sure the new team wanted it and used the NYT story today to drive a stake in his heart.”
The next day, Dolan emailed Danchenko again and wrote, “I had lunch with a GOP friend who knows the players.”
Dolan went on to tell Danchenko that Corey Lewandowksi, who served as Trump’s campaign manager in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, “hates Manafort” and after his resignation “does a happy dance…it’s a very elbow-row crowd.” pointed”.
During Thursday’s questioning, however, Dolan said he never actually spoke to a GOP source and admitted he got that information from open-source information — specifically information. on the cable.
“I was thinking of sprucing up a bit,” Dolan said Thursday. He added that Lewandowski ‘hating’ Manafort was a ‘pretty common’ acquaintance at the time.
Danchenko took the information in Dolan’s email, rephrased it, and included it in his August 22, 2016 report, which was later compiled into the Steele dossier.
“A US political figure associated with Donald Trump and his campaign has outlined the reasons for Manafort’s recent disappearance,” the filing said. “He/she said it was true that the Ukraine corruption revelations played a part in this, but also, several high profile players close to Trump had wanted Manafort out, mainly to loosen his control over the formulation of strategy and policy.”
“Manafort’s predecessor as campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who hated Manafort personally and remained close to Trump, with whom he regularly discussed the presidential campaign, was particularly important in this regard,” the filing adds.
Buzzfeed News published the dossier in January 2017. Dolan said Thursday that when he saw it, he became concerned because he suspected Danchenko might have been involved in it because of his ties to Steele.
Dolan said he was unaware the information he provided to Danchenko was on file until Durham called him in for questioning as part of his probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. .
Dolan said Durham showed him his email side-by-side with the file, and Dolan agreed that the two looked “similar”.
The brief was written by Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the law firm Perkins Coie.
The case served as the basis for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant and its three renewals against Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in 2019 that the dossier was used to justify FISA’s initial warrant and its three subsequent renewals. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee initially said the dossier served as the basis for those warrants and surveillance of Page.
The Ministry of Justice admitted in 2020 that the FISA Page’s surveillance warrants, once stripped of FBI disinformation, fell short of the necessary legal threshold and should never have been issued.
During the Danchenko trial this week, FBI supervising counterintelligence analyst Brian Auten, Durham’s first witness, admitted that neither the FBI nor any other intelligence agency — not even Steele himself — had no substantiation for the allegations included in the file.
“You and your colleagues took the information…and put it into the Carter Page FISA application,” Durham said. “You didn’t have confirmation from the databases of the FBI, other intelligence community agencies or Christopher Steele and it was still put on a FISA application?”
“Correct,” testified Auten.
Auten said the FBI even offered Steele $1 million in 2021 to substantiate the allegations, but said Steele couldn’t do that.