Clinton Operative Linked to Steele Dossier Did Not Disclose Work for Russia to Justice Department

Charles Dolan's involvement in the dossier saga flips Democrats' allegations of Russian collusion on their head

Charles Dolan Jr. / kglobal
November 5, 2021

The Clinton operative who provided information for the infamous Steele dossier worked for years for the Russian government and its state-owned gas giant Gazprom, though his activities are not disclosed in foreign agent filings with the Department of Justice.

Charles Dolan, a longtime Democratic operative and public-relations maven, worked as a senior consultant for the Russian government from 2006 to 2014 and in 2016 had extensive contacts with high-level Russian officials, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday by Special Counsel John Durham. Dolan in 2016 also fed information to Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who served as the primary source for Christopher Steele, a former British spy who investigated Donald Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. During the years he worked for Russia, Dolan was not registered with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to a review of government records.

Dolan's involvement in the dossier saga flips Democrats' allegations of Trump-Russia collusion on their head. Democrats have long accused the Trump campaign of having illicit ties to Russia. Special Counsel John Durham on Thursday indicted Danchenko for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Dolan. Danchenko had denied that Dolan provided any information to him that made its way to Steele. The FBI relied heavily on Steele's since-discredited dossier for its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The indictment lists Dolan's extensive work for the Clintons and says he took part in events and calls as a volunteer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. It does not identify Dolan by name, but his attorneys confirmed that he is the person referenced in the indictment as "PR Executive 1." Dolan is a partner at public relations firm kglobal. He is also on the board of directors of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit group that says it "advances democracy for a better future."

The Justice Department requires individuals who work on behalf of foreign governments to disclose their influence activities. Other filings submitted by Ketchum Inc., the firm where Dolan worked through 2014, show that the company had extensive contacts with U.S. media outlets during the course of its work for Russia. Dolan is listed in two filings submitted by Ketchum. Those show that in 2012 he received $157,000 to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Dozens of other employees at Ketchum are registered as foreign agents of Russia and Gazprom during the same period.

While Dolan was not widely known before he surfaced in the Durham investigation, he has extensive contacts in Washington. He was photographed with then-vice president Joe Biden in February 2014, while he was still working for Russia.

According to the indictment, Dolan provided Danchenko information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that ended up in the dossier. Danchenko had asked Dolan to share any "thought, allegation, or rumor" about Manafort. Dolan told Danchenko that a Republican friend of his had shared insights about turmoil regarding Manafort within the Trump campaign. The information would later appear in one of the memos from the Steele dossier. Dolan told the FBI that he lied to Danchenko about speaking with a Republican friend about Manafort.

Dolan was also involved in perhaps the most controversial allegation in the dossier. According to the indictment, Dolan and an associate spoke with staff members of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow about Donald Trump's stay there years earlier. The dossier alleges that the Russian government has video footage of Trump with prostitutes at the hotel. But according to the indictment, Dolan said that none of the hotel staff members to whom he spoke mentioned any sexual activity.

The indictment also reveals that an official at the Brookings Institution, a prominent liberal think tank, introduced Danchenko to Dolan around a decade ago. Steele in 2017 told the FBI that Brookings senior fellow Fiona Hill introduced him to Danchenko around 2011, according to documents declassified last year. Hill is not identified by name in the indictment, but documents released last year by the government identify her as the person who introduced Danchenko to Steele. Hill served as the Russia expert for the National Security Council during the Trump administration.

It is unclear whether Durham asked Dolan about his work for Russia or his failure to register as a foreign agent. Dolan and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.