October 12, 2022
By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor For Dailymail.com
The trial of dossier source Igor Danchenko began this week
Special Counsel John Durham interrogated witness himself
Prosecutors accuse Danchenko of lying to FBI as it sought to verify dossier
It contained salacious allegations against Trump and was used for warrants
Witness said FBI offered Steele 'up to $1 million' to prove claims
He couldn't prove allegations; had been a paid informant
A witness in the trial of a source for the infamous Steele dossier testified that the FBI offered ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele 'up to $1 million' to back up claims he included in his reports.
Brian Auten, an FBI supervisory analyst, testified that the bureau made the offer in 2016, as agents were seeking to verify information in the dossier, which included salacious unverified allegations against the future president.
Auten testified that Steele didn't get the money because he was unable to prove the allegations, CNN reported.
The revelation about the substantial financial incentive being offered came in the trial of Igor Danchenko, one of Steele's primary sources, who is accused of lying to the FBI when questioned about his information. He was indicted on five counts of making false statements to the FBI.
Special Counsel John Durham, who was appointed by Trump, is prosecuting the case in am Alexandria, Virginia courtroom. His years-long probe has resulted in a single conviction – of FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for doctoring an email used to justify surveillance. The trial of Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann resulted in an acquittal.
Steele, an ex-MI 6 intelligence officer, compiled the dossier as a series of dispatches. He had been a paid FBI informant.
Prosecutors said Danchenko, a Russia analyst and researcher based in Virginia, fabricated once source and hid another source of information as the FBI rushed in the weeks before the 2016 election to confirm information in the dossier. They accuse him of lying to the FBI when he was questioned about information he provided.
They also pointed to an area of harm – the FBI relied in part of information in the dossier to obtain warrants for phone and email surveillance of former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, a U.S. citizen. They were probing an alleged conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia – in an investigation that would burst into the headlines.
'Those lies mattered,' Prosecutor Michael Keilty said, because the FBI presented inaccurate information to a foreign intelligence surveillance court.
Page was never charged with a crime.
Prosecutors say Danchenko lied when he told agents he got information from Sergei Millian, who had been head of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. But they said there isn't evidence the two ever spoke, and pointed to phone records.
'This case is about protecting the functions and integrity of our institutions,' Keilty added.
'This case is about protecting the function and integrity of our government institutions,' said Durham.
Durham's prosecutors focused on the treatment of Page, an area that has long been a focus of Trump and congressional Republicans, and which featured in a damning report by the Justice Department's IG.
Danchenko's lawyer countered that his client has been truthful and that the FBI asked his client vague questions during their 2016 meeting.
At one point Durham asked Auten why the DOJ opened its Russia probe in the summer of 2016.
But his answer cut against Trump's repeated claim that the probe was founded on the dirty dossier.
Instead, his answer pointed to the origin of the probe, which has been repeatedly reported: A boozy encounter in a hotel bar in May 2016 between foreign Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos and an Australian diplomat, after the aide said the Kremlin had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The diplomat provided the information to the U.S.