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What Happened: November 4, 2021

Tablet’s afternoon news digest: Steele dossier; a truck driver ousts the head of the New Jersey state senate; Air Force inspector general clears U.S. military of any wrongdoing in Kabul drone strike

The Scroll
November 04, 2021

The Big Story

The main source for the discredited Steele dossier, which fueled allegations that Donald Trump was compromised by the Russian government, was arrested Thursday by federal authorities. The arrest of Igor Danchenko is the latest result of the slow-building inquiry by John Durham, the special counsel appointed by Trump to investigate evidence of wrongdoing in the “Russiagate” proceedings that targeted the Trump administration. Danchenko’s indictment, in which he’s charged with two counts of lying to the FBI, describes him claiming that he had obtained information about Trump from Russian sources, when in fact it was coming from political operatives linked to the Clinton campaign. The revelations highlight the origins of the Steele dossier, which was presented as the objective findings of retired British intelligence professional Christopher Steele but was actually an opposition research product paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign through its law firm, Perkins Coie. Despite the inherently partisan nature of Steele’s work, and the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies knew from the beginning that it contained false reporting, the dossier was submitted as part of the warrant application that authorized intelligence agencies to spy on members of the Trump campaign. In September, Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a Clinton campaign lawyer who worked for Perkins Coie, for making false statements to the FBI.

Read it here:

Today’s Back Pages: Techno Fog on the Igor Danchenko Indictment—It Was All a Fraud
The Rest

-At least eight Republicans who attended the January 6th march that led to riots at the U.S. Capitol were voted into office in elections held Tuesday. Three of the elected officials won seats in state legislatures, including two in Virginia, while the other five were voted into local offices. All eight deny any involvement in breaching the Capitol building.

-Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced yesterday that he will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers in Canada’s largest province, citing the potential impact on patient care if “tens of thousands” of unvaccinated healthcare workers are barred from their jobs. The announcement by Ford, a conservative, often divisive leader (and brother to Toronto’s loose-cannon former mayor, the late Rob Ford), provoked immediate pushback from the left-wing New Democrats, and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, which called Ford’s decision “a disgrace.” 
Read more:

-The Air Force inspector general has cleared the U.S. military of any wrongdoing in the Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 innocent civilians, including 7 children. The investigation concluded that communications breakdowns led to the forces in charge of the strike reaching the wrong conclusions but that their decision “was not unreasonable. It just turned out to be incorrect.” The strike was carried out days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. troops and more than 150 Afghans around the Kabul airport as the last U.S. troops were withdrawing from the country near the end of the two-decades-long war.

- Incredible claim made here by the writer Alice Driver, who alleges that a story she wrote for The New York Times about unvaccinated workers at Tyson meat plants was killed by the paper after being delayed for months. Months after Driver’s story was spiked, today’s edition of The New York Times has a rather more positive article titled “How Tyson Foods Got 60,500 Workers to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine Quickly.”

In January 2021, I signed a contract @nytimes to publish an oped about how Tyson needed to vaccinate meat processing workers. After I informed Tyson of the oped (it had been fact-checked, translated into Spanish & the photos edited) it was suddenly killed. Nice PR story today.

— Alice Driver (@reporterdriver) November 4, 2021

-A narrow win Tuesday for New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat who faced off against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, is being credited to votes from Orthodox Jewish communities who might have helped swing the outcome of the low-turnout election. Though the Lakewood Vaad, a coalition of Orthodox Jewish religious leaders, endorsed Murphy in September, it wasn’t enough to win Murphy the township that went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2020. Lakewood still went overwhelmingly for Ciattarelli in this election, but the Republican-Democrat vote gap was much smaller than in 2020.
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-In other Jersey news, the state Senate president, Democrat Steve Sweeney, was defeated in Tuesday’s election by Republican challenger Edward Durr—a political novice who works as a truck driver for a furniture company. Durr told reporters that he spent only $153 on his campaign, but according to The New York Times, “financial disclosure reports indicate he spent roughly $2,200 on his race”—still a meager sum by modern campaigning standards. “It’s a repudiation of Governor Murphy [who] went and locked us down and ignored the people’s voice and Senator Sweeney chose to do nothing for those 18 months,” Durr said in an interview Wednesday night.

-Fadah Jassem, recently hired as Twitter’s new “editorial curation lead for the MENA program” to supervise the social media platform’s news coverage of the Middle East and North Africa, attracted attention when in her tweet announcing the job she included symbols for the flags of 17 countries in the region but excluded the Israeli flag. That prompted a cursory look into her background that turned up a number of tweets suggesting she might be more of an anti-Israel activist than a fair arbiter of news sources. One tweet from 2010 approvingly cited Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, while in another from 2011 she wrote, “They need to arrange another puppet before this puppet leaves … Israel is shitting itself … US needs its billion $investments to pay off …” Confronted with those statements, Jassem apologized and then made her Twitter private.
Read more:

-Pat Martino was a well-known jazz guitarist when he developed amnesia after undergoing brain surgery for an aneurysm in 1980. Martino recovered and taught himself to play the guitar again, putting out his first new record in 1987 called The Return. He died Monday at age 77 in his home in South Philadelphia. “I had to start from Square 1,” Martino said in 2004. “But once I made the decision to try, it activated inner intuitive familiarities, like a child who hasn’t ridden their bicycle for many years and tries to do so again to reach a destination. There are moments of imbalance, but it’s subliminal, and it emerges after some mistakes, and then it strengthens.”

The Back Pages

The Danchenko Indictment: It Was All a Fraud

Today’s post comes from the invaluable legal resource known on Twitter as “Techno Fog” (actually the attorney Travis Miller). This is reprinted with permission from Miller’s Substack, which you can find here.

John Durham has another scalp. On November 3, 2021, Igor Danchenko—Christopher Steele’s primary subsource—was arrested by federal authorities.

Now we have his indictment. Danchenko has been charged with false statements to federal officials during his 2017 interviews with the FBI.

According to the indictment, Danchenko lied about his contacts with “Russians,” his travels to Russia, and the identity of his sources. (Those are just some of the lies.) In John Durham’s words:

For purposes of background on the second charge, Danchenko alleged he received a call from Russian reporter/businessman Sergei Millian alleging a Trump-Russia conspiracy. Millian has long denied placing this call. This call was important because it was the basis, in part, of the FISA warrants against Carter Page. Durham’s investigation revealed Danchenko “never received such a phone call or such information from” Millian.

More from the indictment:

  • Danchenko kept “PR Executive-1”—an influential Democrat—updated of his “Kompromat” research. We have learned from a person smarter than us that this is likely Charles Dolan Jr. (Aaron Mate might have been the first to make this observation. Well done.)
  • The Democrat PR Exec (Dolan): “I think [Danchenko] worked for FSB.” (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation)
  • The “Russian Sub-Source-1” of Danchenko was a Hillary Clinton supporter and was gifted an autobiography of Hillary Clinton.

“Russian Sub-Source-1” had a personal interest in a Hillary Clinton victory, stating that the Democrat PR executive (Dolan) would “take me to the State Department if Hillary wins.”

Durham alleges that Danchenko—the Steele source—and the Democrat “PR Executive” (Dolan) worked together to gather intel/dirt on Trump. From their emails:

The Democrat PR Executive (Dolan) later admitted to the FBI he fabricated this information to Danchenko.

Danchenko later falsely denied to the FBI that the Democrat PR Executive (Dolan) had provided him with information.

Danchenko further lied about his claims of staying in a Moscow Hotel in June 2016. He didn’t stay at the Moscow Hotel until October. This is material because Danchenko purportedly gathered information from sources during the June 2016 stay (which never occurred).

Here’s an important observation: Danchenko wasn’t necessarily a source; he was a go-between, providing Steele with information from the Democrat PR Executive (Dolan).

And then Danchenko lied about the Democrat PR Executive (Dolan) not being his source.

Overall, Danchenko faces five false statement charges:

  1. Falsely stating to FBI agents on June 15, 2017 that he had never “spoken with PR Executive-1” (Dolan) about the dossier allegations.
  1. On March 16, 2017, falsely stating to FBI agents that “he received a late July 2016 telephone call from an individual who Danchenko believed was ‘probably’ [Millian”], when in truth and in fact, and as the defendant well knew, [Millian] never called Danchenko.”
  1. On May 18, 2017, falsely stating to FBI agents that he “‘was under the impression’ that a late July 2016 telephone call he received was from [Millian’]” when in fact Millian never called Danchenko.
  1. Falsely stating to FBI agents on October 24, 2017 that he had spoken to Millian “on the telephone on more than one occasion.”
  1. On November 16, 2017, falsely stating to the FBI that “he had spoken to [Millian] on the telephone” when he knew he never did.

Read the full indictment here.

I’ll be updating this article as I dive deeper into the indictment. For more background, you can read the 2017 FBI Danchenko interviews here.

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