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Mueller team denied requests by FBI agents to investigate Democrat operative Charles Dolan for ties to Kremlin

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FIRST ON FOX: Two FBI officials testified on Friday that while detailed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, they sought to investigate longtime Democratic operative Charles Dolan for his connections to Russia — specifically to Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin — but were ‘instructed not to take further action’ by their superiors. 

FBI analyst Brittany Herzog and FBI supervisory special agent Amy Anderson, who both served on Mueller’s team, testified during the trial of Igor Danchenko Friday that they pressed for further investigation into Dolan and his ties to the Kremlin and pressed higher-ups on Mueller’s team to allow them to interview him.

Mueller was appointed to investigate whether Donald Trump and members of his campaign were colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. After nearly two years, Mueller’s more-than $30 million investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

During testimony Friday, Herzog said Dolan had a relationship with Danchenko, who served as the primary sub-source for Christopher Steele and his anti-Trump dossier, and Olga Galkina. Galkina was also a sub-source for the dossier.

Herzog testified that Dolan visited Galkina in Cyprus more than once. Herzog also testified that Dolan traveled to Moscow in October and December of 2016 and said Danchenko was there both times.

‘The Danchenko-Dolan connection was important because of Dolan’s connectivity with Peskov,’ Herzog testified. ‘I wanted to interview Dolan, his connectivity to sources and Russian government officials.’

‘Some others in the FBI didn’t want to investigate,’ Herzog testified. ‘To the best of my knowledge, no one from the special counsel team interviewed Dolan.’

Herzog testified that she developed a report outlining Galkina’s connection to Russian officials, Danchenko and the Steele dossier. Dolan appeared in one section, Herzog said.

Herzog testified that she had been ‘instructed not to take further action on the relationship between Dolan and Galkina’ while she was on Mueller’s team.

Herzog said she ‘serialized’ her information in three reports in an effort to get more FBI officials involved, specifically within the FBI’s Washington Field Office, FBI Headquarters and the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s Office.

Herzog testified that despite being instructed to ignore Dolan, she ‘believed more investigation was necessary.’

The other FBI agent, Anderson, served as a supervisory special agent on the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team investigating Trump-Russia collusion and later Mueller’s team. She testified that she was assigned to attempt to validate the Steele dossier and verify reporting in the dossier, or determine if it was inaccurate.

Anderson also testified that due to Dolan’s connections to both Danchenko and Galkina, who served as sub-sources for the dossier, she wanted to open an investigation into him.

‘Dolan worked for Ketchum (PR agency) which did work for the Kremlin and Dolan had connection to Peskov,’Anderson testified, adding that ‘anyone who had a connection to the Kremlin’ would have been important to look into.

Anderson said she went to Cyprus to interview Galkina in August 2017 with FBI official Brian Auten.

‘She seemed mostly forthcoming,’ Anderson said, but said she was ‘hesitant’ in talking about Dolan.

At one point Anderson testified that she was in a car with Galkina and again asked her about Dolan.

‘She asked me to remove my sunglasses so that she could look me in the eye,’ Anderson recalled, before Galkina confirmed her meetings with Dolan.

Anderson testified that she wrote a memo pressing for further investigative steps on Dolan during her time on the Mueller team, but said that memo sat for three or four weeks.

‘I was told it was not going to be opened,’ Anderson testified.

Dolan contributed to the dossier by providing information to Danchenko regarding the resignation of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in August 2016.

Dolan testified Wednesday that he lied to Danchenko when he said he had inside information from a GOP source about Manafort’s resignation. The information actually came through open source reporting.

But Danchenko later used Dolan’s information in the dossier and attributed it to ‘an American political figure associated with Donald Trump.’

Buzzfeed News published the dossier in January 2017. Dolan testified Thursday that when he saw it, he became concerned because he suspected Danchenko could have been involved in it due to his connections to Steele.

Dolan testified that he did not know information he provided to Danchenko was in the dossier until Durham called him in for questioning as part of his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.

Dolan said Durham showed him his email side by side with the dossier, and Dolan agreed the two looked ‘similar.’

The dossier was authored by Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through law firm Perkins Coie.

The dossier served as the basis for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant and its three renewals against Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz in 2019 said the dossier was used to justify the initial FISA warrant and its three subsequent renewals. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee first said the dossier served as the basis for those warrants and surveillance of Page.

The Justice Department admitted in 2020 that the FISA warrants to surveil Page, when stripped of the FBI’s misinformation, did not meet the necessary legal threshold and never should have been issued.

During the Danchenko trial this week, FBI supervisory counterintelligence analyst Brian Auten, Special Counsel John Durham’s first witness, admitted that neither the FBI nor any other intelligence agency — or even Steele himself — had any corroboration for allegations included in the dossier.

‘You and your colleagues took the information…and put it in the Carter Page FISA application,’ Durham said. ‘You didn’t have corroboration from FBI databases, from other intelligence community agencies, or from Christopher Steele and it still went into a FISA application?’

‘Correct,’ Auten testified.

Auten testified that the FBI even offered Steele $1 million in 2016 to corroborate the allegations, but testified that Steele could not do so.

Durham has been investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He charged Danchenko with five counts of making false statements to the FBI. Danchenko has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

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