An FBI agent who served on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has revealed that her request to grill a Democratic operative involved in the anti-Trump dossier was scuttled by top officials at the bureau.
The revelation came Friday when FBI agent Amy Anderson who took the stand Friday in the trial of Russian analyst Igor Danchenko for lying to the FBI about how he obtained information for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier.
Ms. Anderson, who was part of Mr. Mueller’s team investigating purported Trump-Russia collusion, said she asked in 2017 to interview Democratic operative Charles Dolan about the dossier but her requests were ignored and then deep-sixed by FBI officials.
“I wanted to look into him,” Ms. Anderson told the federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia. “The job at the time was to verify if statements in the dossier were valid or not, so if the witness had knowledge of those statements, that would have been an important part of the job.”
She was the second witness Friday to testify that an FBI supervisor stymied efforts to look into Mr. Dolan, a longtime Democratic operative with close ties to Hillary Clinton.
It was the latest evidence to emerge of the FBI’s failures to scrutinize claims of collusion when launching the probe targetting former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and then his presidency. The trial, however, is focused on the alleged dishonesty of Mr. Danchanko in what is likely the last act of special counsel John Durham’s three-year probe into the origins of the FBI’s hunt for Trump-Russia collusion.
Earlier in the day, Brittany Hertzog, a former FBI intelligence analyst who also worked on Mr. Mueller’s probe, testified that she also pressed to interview Mr. Dolan and made that recommendation to both the FBI’s headquarters and Washington field office.
“I believe it needed to be acted on,” Ms. Hertzog testified.
Despite urging from Ms. Anderson and Ms. Hertzog to open up an investigation into Mr. Dolan, nothing ever happened, they said. They blamed the FBI’s chain of command, but did not provide further details.
As Ms. Anderson tells it, her request to take “investigative steps” against Mr. Dolan sat around for three to four weeks before she deleted it from the FBI system. She said she erased the request because it couldn’t remain in the FBI’s computer system if no one was going to move on it.
Investigative steps would include subpoenaing Mr. Dolan for testimony and executing a search warrant for his phone and email records.
Ms. Anderson and Ms. Hertzog said they didn’t know why investigators ignored their requests.
On Thursday, Mr. Dolan testified that he lied to Igor Danchenko in 2016 when he claimed to have information from a GOP insider about why Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort resigned from the campaign. That information, which had been pulled from a cable news talking head, made its way into the Steele report, a collection of unverified and salacious anti-Trump claims compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.
The accusations surrounding Mr. Manafort’s departure from the Trump campaign appear in the Steele dossier and are attributed to “an American political figure associated with Donald Trump.”
That information came from Mr. Dolan, who said he learned it by having drinks with “a GOP friend who knows the players.” Under oath, Mr. Dolan testified that he never spoke with a Republican source and admitted the information came from an analyst on a cable news talk show.
Ms. Anderson said they came across the possibility that Mr. Dolan contributed the Manafort information after traveling to Cypress and interviewing Olga Galkina, a childhood friend of Mr. Danchenko.
“She was slightly hesitant. She asked me to remove my sunglasses so she could look me directly in the eye and confirmed it was Mr. Dolan,” Ms. Anderson said.
She said Mr. Dolan would have been of interest to Mr. Mueller’s team because of his connections to the Russian government. Mr. Dolan had done public relations work for the Kremlin and developed a strong connection with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dimitri Peskov.
“Anyone who had access to the Kremlin would have been very valuable,” she said.