Five years have passed since the word “Steele dossier” entered the political vocabulary, an analyst from a think tank who was part of research into Donald Trump and Russia goes to trial on Tuesday, accused of not telling the FBI about the sources of his information.
Igor Danchenko is the third person being investigated for criminal charges by the special counsel John Durham, who was named to investigate the causes of “Crossfire Hurricane” — the title used by the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the former president’s Russia connections. This is the first of Durham’s investigations that delve into the genesis of the dossier Trump has criticized as fake information and a political witch hunt.
Here’s a brief overview of what’s going on in the case.
Danchenko Danchenko, a Russian analyst was a source of data to Christopher Steele, a former British spy hired by Democrats to investigate connections between Russia and the presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The collection of research documents that included rumors of salacious nature and unsubstantiated assertions led to be known as the “Steele dossier.” Though the dossier didn’t help to initiate an FBI investigation into possible collaboration between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign, however, it was used by the Justice Department did rely on it when it sought and was granted warrants to investigate the communications of a former Trump adviser to the campaign.
In its effort to confirm the information contained in the dossier In order to verify the information in the dossier, the FBI conducted an interview with Danchenko in the year 2017.
He’s accused of deceiving agents regarding his sources of information The prosecutors have accused Danchenko of deceiving the FBI in an attempt in order to create a false impression and make his information appear more plausible.
Prosecutors claim Danchenko was lying when the FBI was asked how he got the information he provided to Steele. Particularly, they claim that he denied relying on a Democratic agent, Charles Dolan, a public relations executive who was a volunteer on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Prosecutors have also claimed that Danchenko was lying when he claimed the information he obtained was via a confidential phone call he believed was made by an individual named Sergei Millian, a former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. They claim Danchenko knew Millian was not the source of any phone call that was anonymous.
The indictment claims that it is possible that the FBI could have more accurately assessed the authenticity of Steele’s dossier if they had known that a Democratic agent was the source of a large portion of the information.
Danchenko’s attorneys say the prosecution “is a case of extraordinary government overreach.” They say Danchenko accepted a series of free FBI interviews throughout the year. They claim that his responses to the FBI were all legally correct.
For example, An FBI agent was questioned by FBI agent Danchenko whether he had “talked” with Dolan about the information found on the file. While the prosecution has provided evidence of the two having emails about the topics of the dossier, however, there’s no evidence they spoke informally about the issues.
“It was a bad question,” Danchenko’s attorney, Stuart Sears, at an earlier pretrial hearing. “That’s the problem of the special counsel. Not Mr. Danchenko’s.”
While Danchenko stated that it was his belief that Millian was the voice that was on the call that was anonymous, however, he did not tell the FBI in any way that he could be certain they were Millian. Sears claimed that statements like this do not meet the criteria to prove the false statement charge.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga earlier this month denied the defense attorneys’ request to drop the charge but he characterized his decision to allow the case to proceed “extremely close call.” The judge has now ruled that the prosecution is not allowed to present evidence on the most controversial aspects of the case.
Durham served as in charge of the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut in 2019, when he was hired by Attorney General William Barr to hunt for any potential misconduct from government officials who were the ones to conduct the initial Russia investigation.
However, after more than three decades, Durham’s efforts have failed to live up to his expectations. Trump supporters believed they would discover massive FBI plots to destroy Trump’s presidential campaign.
The investigation has only produced three criminal instances.
The first case involved one FBI attorney, Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of altering an email relating to the monitoring of the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The trial ended with a guilty plea, a probationary sentence, and a case of FBI mistakes that had already been discovered by the Justice Department inspector general.
The team of Durham last year accused a Democratic lawyer of having made a false claim in front of the FBI’s chief lawyer at the 2016 meeting, in which the lawyer provided details of an alleged digital backchannel between a Russian banking institution and the Trump organization. The FBI looked into the matter but did not find any suspicious contacts. The trial of Michael Sussmann, the attorney Michael Sussmann, ended with an acquittal swiftly in May.
Durham’s work has been carried on through this Biden government Justice Department, but the Danchenko trial appears to be the last criminal case his team is likely to bring. It’s not known when Durham will release the report he has compiled of his findings.