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New details emerge on FBI's botched investigation into Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/4/2022 Jerry Dunleavy

The alleged source behind former spy Christopher Steele's infamous anti-Trump dossier has made a series of bombshell claims about the FBI's relationship with him.

Russian lawyer Igor Danchenko was on the bureau’s payroll as a confidential human source from March 2017 to October 2020 before he was charged in November 2021 by special counsel John Durham with lying about conversations he had with Hillary Clinton ally Charles Dolan and businessman Sergei Millian.

On Monday, Danchenko claimed the FBI never asked him to hand over his discussions with the two men — which are now crucial to the case being made against him.


Igor Danchenko leaves the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, on Nov. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) © Provided by Washington Examiner Igor Danchenko leaves the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, on Nov. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“Mr. Danchenko was never asked to provide all correspondence with Dolan or Millian and Mr. Danchenko never received a subpoena requesting such correspondence,” Danchenko’s lawyers said in a Monday night filing.

Durham’s 2021 indictment said Danchenko anonymously sourced a fabricated claim about Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to Dolan, who spent years, including 2016, doing work in Russia. Danchenko also allegedly lied to the FBI about a phone call he claimed he received from Millian, a Belarus-born U.S. citizen and businessman who Danchenko claimed told him about a debunked conspiracy of cooperation between President Donald Trump and the Russians, which the special counsel said was false.

The defense team’s Monday filing focused largely on Dolan.

“The Special Counsel should not be permitted to argue that Mr. Danchenko knew the FBI was interested in email communications and omitted such information from his answer,” Danchenko’s lawyers said, adding, “The Special Counsel cannot now pursue a charge it chose not to indict. Doing so would violate Mr. Danchenko’s Fifth Amendment right to be indicted by a grand jury and would result in a fatal variance from the indictment.”

Danchenko’s team argued Monday that “such a theory would be legally unsound because Mr. Danchenko was not under a duty to disclose such information to the FBI.”

This debate was key during an Alexandria court hearing between the legal teams for Durham and Danchenko last week.

Danchenko lawyer Stuart Sears told the judge that “a literally true statement cannot be charged as a false statement” as he repeatedly pointed out that the FBI had asked Danchenko in 2017 if he had ever “talked” with Dolan about the dossier, with the defense lawyer arguing “talked” doesn’t necessarily include written communications.

An FBI agent had asked Danchenko: “But you had never talked to [Dolan] about anything that showed up in the dossier, right?” The defendant had replied, “No.” The agent followed up, “You don't think so?” Danchenko replied, “No. We talked about, you know, related issues perhaps but no, no, no, nothing specific.”

“It was a bad question, but that’s the special counsel’s problem, not Mr. Danchenko’s,” Sears told the judge last week, adding that “his answer to that question was 100% accurate.” The defense lawyer contended that “talked” was the key to the FBI’s question because the indictment “only alleges they exchanged an email.”

The special counsel said that “one has to look at these matters in context” and that in context, it was clear the FBI was asking Danchenko about any and all communications he may have had about the dossier with Dolan, arguing that Danchenko was “keenly” and “fully aware” of “the fact of what the FBI was looking for” as the bureau attempted to figure out if the dossier’s claims were true or false.

Durham pointed out that Danchenko brought a copy of the Democratic-funded dossier to an FBI meeting and said he had reviewed it, showing he knew what the FBI was interested in. The special counsel said the jury, not the judge, should decide whether the evidence shows that “he did know it was untrue.”

The special counsel pointed out in court that Danchenko did not proactively provide the FBI with the email exchange with Dolan that is now at the center of the indictment, but Danchenko’s team argued in court last week and in legal filings on Monday that the FBI simply never asked for all of his communications with Dolan.

Judge Anthony Trenga, who is presiding over the case, needs to make a ruling on this and other debates before the trial starts on Oct. 11.


In a separate Monday motion, Danchenko's team asked for a series of Justice Department guidelines and training materials related to witness testimony to be allowed in as evidence at trial.

"These statements directly contradict the illogical prosecutorial theory employed here by the Special Counsel and are relevant to and support Mr. Danchenko’s defense that he did not knowingly provide false statements to the FBI," Danchenko's lawyers said.


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Tags: Justice, Justice Department, John Durham, Christopher Steele, FBI

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: New details emerge on FBI's botched investigation into Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko


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