Steele dossier researcher indicted in Durham probe
A researcher who gathered information for the Steele Dossier was indicted by federal authorities on Thursday.
Analyst Igor Danchenko was indicted on five counts of lying to the FBI in connection to the special counsel investigation headed by John Durham, who was appointed during the Trump administration to probe the bureau’s inquiry into Russian election interference, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
People familiar with the matter told The New York Times that Danchenko was arrested Thursday morning.
Authorities are alleging that Danchenko lied to FBI agents during interviews conducted from January 2017 through November of that year that were part of the bureau’s probe of the information included in the dossier.
Danchenko is the third prosecution brought by Durham.
The Hill reached out to the special counsel’s office for comment.
He was employed by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who wrote the controversial 35-page dossier, which was later leaked, of unsubstantiated rumors and assertions regarding potential links between former President Trump and Russia.
Danchenko was reportedly the primary researcher for the dossier.
The indictment claims that Danchenko falsely told investigators that he never communicated with a specific U.S.-based individual — who had ties to the Democratic Party and was at the time an executive at a public relations firm — about the allegations included in the Steele dossier, when in fact he allegedly did.
Authorities say the analyst sourced at least one of the allegations in the dossier anonymously to that individual, whose role as a contributor to the report was “highly relevant and material to the FBI’s evaluation” because they had ties to a number of people named in the dossier, including one of Danchenko’s Russian sub-sources.
The indictment also says that Danchenko falsely told investigators that he received an anonymous phone call in July 2016 from an individual he believed to be a U.S. citizen and the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. Danchenko said that person provided him with information for the dossier, and the two later agreed to meet in person in New York.
In actuality, however, authorities say that the phone call never took place, that no transfer of information between Danchenko and the unnamed individual occurred, and that they two did not make plans to meet in New York.
Durham has had his eyes on Danchenko for some time, issuing a subpoena in February for the analyst’s personal files and documents from his time working at Brookings Institution. Danchenko worked at the think tank between 2005 and 2010, according to the Times.
He has previously defended his work on the dossier, telling the Times during an interview in 2020 that he was directed to compile “raw intelligence” for Steele, and ultimately sent him information that he felt raised a “red flag.”
He told the newspaper last year that he sought to clear his name and emphasized that he was not a Russian agent, calling such claims “ridiculous” and “slander.”
Danchenko’s identity was revealed in July 2020.
The Russian analyst was responsible for one of the most well-known claims from the Steele Dossier: that a purported sex tape from existed of Trump with prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow in 2013.
Danchenko told the Times during the interview last year that he heard rumors from two sources about a potential sex tape of Trump at the hotel, then later received two other pieces of vague information from hotel employees that he thought corroborated the initial accounts.
Danchenko’s arrest comes nearly two months after a federal grand jury indicted attorney Michael Sussman in connection to Durham’s probe. He was charged with lying to the FBI during the 2016 campaign.
Authorities allege that Sussman — a lawyer who worked at the firm Perkins Coie, which has connections to the Democratic Party — misrepresented who he was employed by when he approached the FBI in 2016 with evidence of a leak between the Trump Organization and the Russian financial company Alfa Bank.
Prosecutors working for Durham are arguing that Sussman lied to investigators when he said he was not working for any specific client, alleging he was actually representing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Democratic presidential campaign and an unidentified tech executive.
—Updated at 1:51 p.m.
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