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Steele dossier source insists he is not Russian agent: 'It's slander'

Steele dossier source insists he is not Russian agent: 'It's slander'
© Greg Nash

Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst who gathered intelligence on possible links between President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE and Russia that was used in a controversial dossier, said Wednesday that he wants to clear his name, adding that the claim by Trump’s allies that he is a “Russian agent” is “slander.” 

In an interview published Wednesday by The New York Times, Danchenko said that after his identity was revealed in July, he began receiving threats and harassment, especially following Attorney General William BarrBill BarrProgressives slam Garland for DOJ stances on Trump-era cases Federal judge rules Barr, other officials have qualified immunity from suit over Lafayette Square protests Lieu calls Catholic bishops 'hypocrites' for move to deny Biden communion MORE’s declassification of the fact that Danchenko was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation a decade ago. 

While the FBI had closed the investigation by 2011, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-S.C.) and other Trump loyalists began calling Danchenko a “Russian agent” after his name was made public. 

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“I’ve never been a Russian agent,” Danchenko told the Times. “It is ridiculous to suggest that. This, I think, it’s slander.”

Among the leads Danchenko acquired on behalf of former British spy Christopher Steele was the claim that Russian intelligence officials had in their possession a video showing Trump engaging in sexual activities with prostitutes in Moscow's Ritz-Carlton hotel. 

Danchenko said that while he admits the information was not strong in proving the existence of a sex tape, he claimed he was not responsible for how Steele used the information Danchenko gathered. 

“Even raw intelligence from credible sources, I take it with a grain of salt,” Danchenko told the Times. “Who knows, what if it’s not particularly accurate? Is it just a rumor or is there more to it?”

Danchenko’s lawyer, Mark Schamel, sent letters to Graham and other Republicans demanding that they stop calling Danchenko a “Russian agent,” according to the Times. 

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In a letter sent to Schamel on Tuesday, Graham denied that he had made false statements. The senator added that as a public official, he cannot be charged with defamation. 

“I have done nothing more than simply relay these matters of intense public interest to the American people,” Graham wrote in the letter.

Danchenko’s research was compiled into the now infamous Steele dossier that Democrats were indirectly funding by the time of the 2016 general election.

After Trump won the nomination in 2016, research firm Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of then-Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee by law firm Perkins Coie to compile research about Trump and his allies. Fusion GPS brought on Steele to gather intelligence on possible Russian connections.

According to the Times, Danchenko said he did not know who Steele’s client was at the time, adding that he considered himself to be a nonpartisan analyst and researcher.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Graham, has since investigated the Steele dossier in order to undermine its credibility as a source for former Special Counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.