World News

Source for 2016 'dossier' on Trump denies being Russian agent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A key source for the private investigator’s report suggesting links between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia told Reuters on Tuesday he is not a Russian agent, contradicting two of Trump’s congressional allies.

“I am exactly what the Department of Justice National Security Division, the FBI, the FBI Inspector General, the Special Counsel and the Republican Senate Intelligence Committee has determined; an experienced expert in Russian affairs who has spent more than a decade in business intelligence,” Russian politics expert Igor Danchenko told Reuters in an email.

“My academic and business intelligence work in Russia has always been on behalf of Western clients and never on behalf of Russia,” Danchenko said in his first public comments.

Danchenko was referred to in the 2016 “Steele Dossier,” prepared for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign by former British spy Christopher Steele, which alleged connections between Trump’s successful campaign and Russia.

Trump has long denied any such connection.

Trump allies Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative Devin Nunes, top Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, have made comments that Danchenko is a Russian agent.

Danchenko said those comments had put him, his family and friends in danger and, through a lawyer, threatened legal action.

In a statement, Graham said: “I have done nothing more than simply relay these matters of intense public interest to the American people, consistent with the facts before me and my responsibilities as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.”

Trump and Nunes did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Peter Cooney