National Security

Primary Steele dossier source acquitted in loss for special counsel

Igor Danchenko, the primary source behind the Steele dossier, was acquitted Tuesday of lying to the FBI in a case brought by special counsel John Durham.  

The case is the second such loss for the specially appointed prosecutor charged with investigating the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe into allegations that former President Trump and his allies colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.  

Over the course of the three-year investigation, Durham has lost two cases brought to trial. He was appointed to the role by former Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to review the FBI’s investigation. 

Danchenko was facing four counts of lying to the FBI after a judge dropped a fifth charge Friday.  

The jury brought back a not guilty verdict for each charge facing the think tank analyst.

Danchenko, a Russian national, was the primary researcher for the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who put together the 35-page dossier that alleged potential coordination between the former president and Russia as the country sought to influence the U.S. election. 

Steele’s dossier, however, has since been largely discredited and was found to be funded by Democrats during the 2016 presidential election cycle. 

The dossier itself was not the basis for the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. However, special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia. 

Danchenko was indicted last year, and his trial began last Tuesday.  

The government had alleged that Danchenko misled the FBI in 2017 when it asked about his sources, including his contact with a Belarusian American businessman.  

Trump had promoted Durham’s investigation, saying at one point he would uncover “the crime of the century.” But so far the investigation has yielded just one guilty plea from a low-level FBI lawyer who was given probation. 

Durham, who previously served as the U.S. attorney in Connecticut during the Trump administration, personally argued much of the case before the jurors. 

“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service,” Durham said in a statement to multiple outlets. 

Updated: 5:54 p.m.

Tags Bill Barr Christopher Steele FBI Igor Danchenko Igor Danchenko John Durham John Durham Robert Mueller Steele Dossier William Barr
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