But Danchenko had not left the U.S., court documents show. He was living in the Washington area. In fact, he had been arrested in Maryland in 2013 by federal Park Police for being drunk and disorderly, something the FBI analyst could have easily discovered by searching federal law enforcement databases. Clueless, the FBI closed its espionage case on Danchenko.
Auten would quickly rise to become the FBI's top Russian analyst. In 2016 and 2017, he failed to properly vet the Steele dossier, a collection of salacious allegations created for Hillary Clinton's campaign which sought to tie Donald Trump to the Kremlin, before clearing it as the central piece of evidence used by the FBI to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Working out of headquarters as a supervisor, Auten knew Danchenko helped Christopher Steele compile the dossier while living in the area. But instead of contacting the Baltimore agents, Auten secretly groomed him as an informant, arranging payments of $220,000 to target Donald Trump and his former aide Page.