What you need to know about Durham’s Igor Danchenko trial

Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Igor Danchenko leaves Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. Danchenko, a Russian analyst who contributed to a dossier of Democratic-funded research into ties between Russia and Donald Trump, was arrested Thursday on charges of lying to the FBI about his sources of information, among them an associate of…

Igor Danchenko, a Russian information analyst, is set to go on trial Tuesday on charges that he lied to the FBI during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Danchenko, who faces five counts of lying to the FBI in 2017, is the latest person to stand trial in the probe from Special Counsel John Durham, a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut tapped in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” operation.

The FBI operation began in 2016 to examine claims, now largely debunked, that former President Trump and his allies colluded with Russia to meddle with the presidential election.

Durham’s probe has so far notched one guilty plea, against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who avoided jail time when he admitted to altering an email to support a surveillance operation against former Trump aide Carter Page.

A trial against attorney Michael Sussmann, accused of lying to the FBI when he presented evidence of ties between a Russian bank and the Trump Organization, resulted in his acquittal in May.

While Russia engaged in a disinformation scheme to manipulate the result of the 2016 presidential election, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign.

Still, several former Trump officials were found guilty as the result of the Mueller probe on a range of charges, including making false statements to agents, bank fraud and witness tampering, among others.

Durham has alleged that allies of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign pushed a disinformation campaign through a network of lawyers, analysts and foreign nationals to peddle the conspiracy that Trump colluded with Russia in the presidential election.

At the center of those efforts was the now-debunked “Steel Dossier,” manufactured by former British spy Christopher Steele and disseminated by consulting firm Fusion GPS.

The core material included in the Steele Dossier relied on information from Danchenko, a former Brookings Institution policy analyst and a Russian national.

Danchenko allegedly concocted numerous unproven conspiracies, including that Trump slept with Russian prostitutes at a Moscow hotel in 2013 and that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, along with Page, worked with Russia to interfere in the election.

According to his November 2021 indictment, Danchenko lied to the FBI numerous times during interviews in 2017 about the source of his information.

Agents were investigating interference into the 2016 election at the time and were consulting Danchenko on where and how he got his information.

The Steele Dossier ultimately resulted in the FBI devoting “substantial resources” to corroborate Trump-Russia allegations, including Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) warrants on Page, according to Durham’s indictment.

Danchenko has said a primary source for information in the Steel Dossier was Sergei Millian, a former Russian American Chamber of Commerce president, who Danchenko assumed made an anonymous call tipping him off on key information in July 2016.

However, Durham says Millian never spoke to the Russian analyst, and that most of Danchenko’s information came from Charles Dolan, a Democratic operative and ally of Clinton.

Danchenko’s lawyers have said the charges against their client amount to an “extraordinary government overreach” and that all the answers he provided to the FBI in 2017 were technically true.

His legal team also says that Danchenko never told the FBI with certainty that he spoke to Millian.

Tags alexandria Bill Barr Carter Page Christopher Steele Crossfire Hurricane FBI Igor Danchenko John Durham Kevin Clinesmith Michael Sussmann Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Robert Mueller Steele Dossier Virginia William Barr
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