The latest filings by Special Counsel John Durham reveal that lawyers for the Hillary Clinton Campaign now represent Christopher Steele primary subsource Igor Danchenko. Let’s walk through the significance of this fact.
Igor Danchenko, the primary subsource of Christopher Steele, was arrested on November 3, 2021 for giving multiple false statements to federal officials during his 2017 interviews with the FBI. These included lies about Danchenko’s sources, his travels to Russia, and his falsified contacts with Sergei Millian. We laid out Danchenko’s indictment here.
Notably, Special Counsel John Durham alleges that one of Danchenko’s real “sources” was Charles Dolan, Jr. (perhaps first identified by Aaron Mate), who served in various leadership positions to elect Bill Clinton in the 1992 and 1996 campaigns and was an advisor to Hillary Clinton in her 2016 campaign for president.
The Involvement of the Hillary Clinton Campaign
We know that the Hillary Clinton Campaign paid for the Steele dossiers and the work by Fusion GPS. This was arranged through their attorneys (and the DNC attorneys) at Perkins Coie - notably Mark Elias and Michael Sussmann. Elias left the firm this summer. Sussmann was indicted in September 2021 by Special Counsel Durham for giving false statements relating to the Alfa Bank/Trump hoax.
It is highly likely that the Clinton Campaign was receiving updates on the Fusion GPS/Christopher Steele work once they were hired by Perkins Coie in the spring of 2016. After all, this is work the client - the Clinton Campaign - paid for. (This is consistent with the Clinton Campaign - notably Jake Sullivan - receiving backchannel updates on the Alfa Bank hoax.)
If the Clinton Campaign was being informed of the work by Fusion GPS, what of the likelihood that the Clinton Campaign was informing the work of Fusion GPS? After all, it was Clintons’ idea to link Trump and Russia in the first place. And associates of the Clinton Campaign (Sidney Blumenthal) were working to corroborate parts of the dossier.
With that in mind, I leave you this bit of information provided by the New York Times in September (emphasis added) suggesting the complicity of the Clinton Campaign:
Some of the questions that Mr. Durham’s team has been asking in recent months — including of witnesses it subpoenaed before a grand jury, according to people familiar with some of the sessions — suggest he has been pursuing a theory that the Clinton campaign used Perkins Coie to submit dubious information to the F.B.I. about Russia and Mr. Trump in an effort to gin up investigative activity to hurt his 2016 campaign.
The Latest Developments
With that background in mind, let’s review what’s going on in Danchenko’s criminal case. He was originally represented by Chris Schafbuch and Mark Schamel. On December 6, 20231, Stuart Sears appeared on behalf of Danchenko. Schafbuch and Schamel dropped out of the case.
According to Durham’s latest filing, Stuart Sears is a partner at the law firm Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears. Notably, the firm is currently representing the 2016 “Hillary for America” presidential campaign (the “Clinton Campaign”), as well as multiple former employees of that campaign, in matters before the Special Counsel.”
Did you catch that? I’ll emphasize:
The Hillary Clinton Campaign and its employees are subject to “matters before the Special Counsel.”
Durham notices the potential conflict of interest, informing the court that Danchenko’s trial might raise the following issues:
the Clinton Campaign’s knowledge or lack of knowledge concerning the veracity of information in the Fusion GPS reports sourced by Danchenko,
the Clinton Campaign’s awareness or lack of awareness of Dancehnko’s collection methods and sub-sources,
meetings or communications between and among the Clinton Campaign, Fusion GPS, and/or Steele regarding or involving Danchenko
Danchenko knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding the Clinton Campaign’s role in and activities surrounding the Fusion GPS reports, and
the extent to which the Clinton Campaign and/or its representatives directed, solicited, or controlled Danchenko’s activities.
Durham even raises the potential that members of the Clinton Campaign may be called to testify at Danchenko’s trial.
To this observer, it seems like the Clinton Campaign’s involvement in the dossier was deeper than anyone knows.