Sir Anthony Eden’s wife, Clarissa, famously said that at times she’d felt as if the Suez Canal was flowing through her drawing room. Over the past four years, perhaps American voters have felt the Volga lapping at their feet. There’s been no escape from Russia and even the Mueller inquiry did not put the matter to rest. Before Mueller’s inquiry a year ago, the headlines were about whether President Trump had conspired – or ‘colluded’ – with the Kremlin; the news now is all about Trump’s revenge for what he calls a conspiracy ‘bigger than Watergate’. This Russia conspiracy has the intelligence agencies cooking up a fake story about collusion in order to investigate Trump and overturn the result of the presidential election. In Trumpworld, this all began with a phoney ‘dossier’ from a former British spy.
So expect to hear about Christopher Steele all the way to the US presidential election in November. Trump’s biggest cheerleader in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, has published a declassified summary of the FBI’s interview with the most important contributor to Steele’s dossier. This was his ‘primary sub-source’ who collected information from several other sources. Graham said the summary showed ‘how unsubstantiated and unreliable the Steele dossier was’. Steele’s main source wasn’t ‘some well-connected… Russian official’ but a researcher paid by him to go to Moscow and who got ‘second and third-hand information and rumour at best’. Even then, Graham said, this source ‘did not know where some of the information attributed to him… came from’. It didn’t take long for the internet to figure out that the ‘primary sub-source’ was a Russian analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Igor – or Iggy – Danchenko.
Danchenko had been arrested for public drunkenness, according to a court filing. Or as one pro-Trump website put it, he was a Russian national whose past included personal baggage.