Turley calls Brookings Institution Steele dossier nexus

Man speaks at podium with "Brookings" sign behind him


The Brookings Institution, a prominent liberal think tank, is the nexus of the discredited Steele dossier which shadowed Donald Trump’s time as president, attorney and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley argued Monday.

In an op-ed published by Fox News, Turley claimed Brookings “appears so often in accounts related to the Russian collusion scandal that it could be Washington’s alternative to the Kevin Bacon parlor game,” referring to the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game popular among movie buffs.

Turley cited the dossier and documents made public by the Trump administration in October 2020, which related to claims that Hillary Clinton ordered “a campaign plan to stir up a scandal” by linking Trump to Russia in 2016. The documents also indicated then-President Barack Obama knew about Clinton’s possible role in the scheme.

The Brookings Institution is a liberal think tank founded in 1916.
AP / Alex Brandon

“[Special Counsel] John Durham is detailing how this plan was carried out and many of those references are within not six but two degrees of separation from Brookings,” Turley wrote Monday.

Turley noted that Igor Danchenko, a key researcher for the dossier, had worked at Brookings as a Russia analyst from 2005 to 2010 and was introduced to Steele toward the end of his time there.

Danchenko was arrested last week on charges that he lied to the FBI regarding his sources — one of whom turned out to be a PR executive with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Examiner reported last week that the introduction was made by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official in the Trump administration and a key witness in Trump’s first impeachment.

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Photo of Christopher Steele.
Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele wrote the discredited dossier connecting Trump to collusion with Russia in 2016.
AP / Aaron Chown

It is unclear if Brookings knew of the introduction made by Hill. The think tank did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment. 

However, the Brookings connection to the dossier goes beyond Hill and Danchenko — including what Turley called “a variety of experts” who appeared on network television shows “stating confidently that Trump was clearly incriminated.”

One such connection noted by Turley is Clinton herself, who noted in a 2015 appearance that “a lot of longtime friends and colleagues” are at Brookings.

Photo of Igor Danchenko.
Igor Danchenko, a contributor of the Steele dossier, has recently been arrested for lying to the FBI about regarding his sources.
AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta

One of those “longtime friends and colleagues” was then-Brookings president Strobe Talbott, who — as Steele later testified in response to a libel lawsuit — was “involved in briefings and inquiries on the development of the dossier”.

“When Steele was called to the State Department for a briefing on his dossier, Talbott sat next to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland,” who later joined Brookings as a nonresident senior fellow in 2019 before rejoining the State Department as part of the Biden administration.

Still of Fiona Hill during interview with CNN.
Fiona Hill worked at the Brookings Institution with Igor Danchenko for years before serving as the Russia expert on Trump’s National Security Council.
[“Getty Images for CNN”]

Another member of what Turley called the Brookings “deep bench of enabling experts,” include Susan Hennessey, a current member of the Justice Department’s national security division and a former CNN legal analyst. Still another was Norm Eisen, a CNN analyst who served as a Democratic staff attorney during the investigation that led to Trump’s first impeachment.

Hill, the most notorious witness in that investigation, has criticized Steele’s research in the past, and just last month dismissed the theory that Russia had damaging information about former President Donald Trump that it used to extract concessions from him.

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“What Putin had on Trump is what everybody else had—recognition of his extreme vulnerability to manipulation,” Hill told The Daily Beast.

Photo shows John Durham.
The case against Igor Danchenko is part of special counsel John Durham’s ongoing investigation of the Trump-Russia collusion.

In 2019, Hill — who has since returned to Brookings — also warned against conspiracy theories that Russia was meddling in US elections, calling it a “fictional narrative.” 

There is no evidence to suggest any employee other than Danchenko committed criminal acts or is suspected in Durham’s investigation, though their connections with those involved in the investigation are likely to be addressed in a final report from the special counsel.

“The role of figures at Brookings in the dossier is still developing but all roads seem to lead back to the think tank,” wrote Turley, who added that “Brookings has long been viewed as effectively the research arm for Democratic figures and liberal causes. Yet … it is rare to see a think tank connected on so many levels to a many criminal investigation.”


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