A veteran F.B.I. counterintelligence agent testified on Thursday that the Trump Justice Department’s decision in 2020 to release sensitive documents about a bureau informant to a Senate committee examining the bureau’s Russia investigation had damaged national security.
The agent told jurors at the trial of Igor Danchenko, who is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about matters related to the anti-Trump Steele dossier, that Mr. Danchenko, a Russia analyst, had provided extraordinary assistance for years as a paid F.B.I. informant.
Internet sleuths managed to piece together Mr. Danchenko’s identity after Attorney General William P. Barr directed the F.B.I. to declassify a redacted report about its three-day interview of Mr. Danchenko in 2017 and give it to Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.
Kevin Helson, the agent, said Mr. Danchenko became a political target, adding that the “release of the document was dangerous.”
The testimony by Mr. Helson, a witness for the prosecution, seemed to be another setback for the special counsel investigation examining the origins of the F.B.I. inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s ties with Russia. The trial of Mr. Danchenko appears to be the last chance for the special counsel, John H. Durham, who Mr. Trump had said would expose a “deep state” conspiracy against him, to obtain a court conviction before his investigation winds down.
In November 2021, Mr. Durham charged Mr. Danchenko with five counts of making false statements to the F.B.I. about his sources for certain claims in the dossier, which contains a collection of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. Although a few of the dossier’s claims made their way into an F.B.I. wiretap application targeting a former Trump campaign adviser, that was largely peripheral to the official inquiry. [Continue reading…]