Democrats who probed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and touted the Steele dossier are now quiet following the indictment of Igor Danchenko, the primary sub-source of the dossier’s contents, for making false statements to the FBI.
Fox News sought comment on Danchenko’s indictment from seven Democratic members who sat on the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia probe and promoted or defended the dossier, including Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Joaquin Castro, Mike Quigley, Jackie Speier, André Carson and Jim Himes.
None of their offices responded. Schiff was confronted over the dossier but refused to address the issue head-on. None of the other Democrats appears to have addressed Danchenko’s indictment despite previously hyping the anti-Trump report.
Danchenko, a Russian national who lives in Virginia, was charged with five counts of making false statements to the FBI last week. Danchenko is said to be the sub-source for Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, who compiled the dossier that served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Almost every Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in 2017 and 2018, when the committee probed Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 elections, elevated the discredited dossier.
“Unilateral subpoenas issued by House Intel Majority appear to be part of effort to discredit Steele, rather than determine truth of dossier,” Schiff tweeted in 2017.
“We certainly want to get to the bottom of the details of that dossier and report what has been substantiated, what hasn’t, and find out just how he based those conclusions and to whatever degree he is willing to share with us any sources of his information,” Schiff also said on MSNBC earlier that year. He also said he wanted to meet with Steele.
Former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortegas confronted Schiff on Tuesday over his defense of the dossier.
“You defended, promoted and even read into the Congressional Record the Steele dossier,” Ortagus told Schiff on “The View.” “We know last week the main source of the dossier was indicted by the FBI for lying about most of the key claims in that dossier. Do you have any reflections on your role in promoting this to the American people?”
Schiff avoided directly answering the question and instead said that “whoever lied” to Steele or the FBI should be prosecuted.
Swalwell also pushed and defended the dossier.
During a Fox News appearance in 2019, anchor Martha MacCallum confronted Swalwell over the issue. MacCallum asked Swalwell if there was anything he regretted saying or went too far during the Russia investigation.
Swalwell replied that he did not see anything as going too far. MacCallum then pivoted to the dossier.
“So it doesn’t bother you that the [Hillary] Clinton campaign paid for a dossier to be put together by someone who had all kinds of ties to intelligence and put together something that turned out to be not necessarily factual?” MacCallum asked the California Democrat.
“Which part of it hasn’t been proven factual?” Swalwell said.
“Are you serious?” MacCallum asked. She then listed off obscene allegations within the dossier, none of which were ever confirmed.
Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, said actions taken during the committee’s investigation were attempts to discredit Steele.
“Sole purpose of FBI subpoena was to discredit Christopher Steele instead of doing our due diligence to evaluate whether his claims are true,” Quigley tweeted in 2017.
Quigley’s tweet responded to Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy’s attempt to figure out the extent to which the dossier was relied upon by intelligence or federal law enforcement agencies.
“What I actually see is their attempt to discredit Christopher Steele, rather than doing our due diligence to see in fact that dossier is accurate or not,” Quigley said during a CNN appearance.
During a House hearing in 2017, Castro, who proclaimed his “reliance on the reputation of the author,” pressed then-FBI Director James Comey on allegations within the dossier. A large portion of his questioning was on the debunked report, the Daily Caller reported at the time.
“I want to take a moment to turn the Christopher Steele dossier, which was first mentioned in the media just before the election and published in full by media outlets in January,” Castro said. “My focus today is to explore how many claims within Steele’s dossier are looking more and more likely, as though they are accurate.”
Reps. Speier, Carson and Himes also backed the anti-Trump report.
Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, a Democrat on the committee, does not appear to have publicly promoted or defended the dossier. Rep. Denny Heck, another Democrat, sat on the committee but left Congress to become Washington’s lieutenant governor.
According to the Danchenko indictment, in March, May, June, October and November of 2017, the Russian national made false statements regarding the sources of specific information he provided to a U.K. investigative firm that, in turn, were included in reports prepared by the firm and subsequently passed to the FBI.
The Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign funded the dossier through law firm Perkins Coie.
Danchenko, charged as part of Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, has pled not guilty.