Special counsel John Durham charges Russian analyst behind Steele dossier with lying to FBI agents: US public relations exec with Democrat ties was key source for claims Trump colluded with Putin, indictment says
Igor Danchenko was taken into custody on Thursday by US federal agents
A key source who provided information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele for his ‘dirty dossier’ of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested in the US.
Igor Y. Danchenko, a Russian-born analyst living in the United States, was arrested on Thursday in Virginia by federal agents assigned to John H. Durham’s special counsel inquiry into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, according to the Justice Department.
He is charged with five counts of lying to FBI agents about the sources he used in collecting information for Steele, who is identified in the indictment only as ‘UK Person-1’.
Danchenko, 43, was the primary researcher for Steele’s dossier alleging that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russia in a covert operation to beat Hillary Clinton, and that Russia had salacious videos that could be used to blackmail Trump.
Many of the dossier’s claims remain unproven or have been debunked, though the document was cited by the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in secret warrant applications to spy on a Trump campaign advisor.
The indictment alleges that Danchenko lied to federal investigators by saying that he had not had contact with a certain US-based executive at an American public relations firm, who had deep and longstanding ties to the Democratic Party.
In fact, Danchenko did communicate with the unnamed PR exec, and used him as a key source for one or more of the allegations in the Steele report, according to the indictment.
Danchenko is the third person, and second in a two-month span, to face charges in Durham’s probe.
Igor Danchenko, a Russian-born analyst living in the United States, was arrested on Thursday by federal agents assigned to John H. Durham’s special counsel inquiry
Special Counsel John H. Durham is investigating whether the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, code-named ‘Crossfire Hurricane,’ was opened and conducted legally
Danchenko’s attorney was in trial and could not be immediately reached by DailyMail.com on Thursday morning.
However, the arrested man’s father Yuri Danchenko, 68, spoke to DailyMail.com from his home in Perm, Russia, saying: ‘Of course, I am very worried about my son. But I don’t plan to fly to America yet.’
‘We will wait for the development of the situation for now,’ he added. ‘I have just read the news about the detention of my son. He did not contact me, I did not speak to him on the phone. I will not take any action.’
On his fears for his son, he said: ‘He will figure it out himself, Igor is legally literate. His wife is also a legally literate person.’
A Justice Department spokesman confirmed Danchenko’s arrest, which was first reported by The New York Times. Danchenko is due to appear in court for arraignment on Thursday afternoon.
The indictment against Danchenko was issued on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he is believed to live in the DC suburb of Alexandria.
The charging document outlines five instances in which Danchenko allegedly lied to FBI agents about his work on the Steele dossier.
In addition to lying about contact with the PR exec, Danchenko is accused of fabricating information about an anonymous phone call he claimed he received in July 2016 from someone he believed to be the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.
Danchenko was the primary researcher for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s (above) dossier alleging that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russia in a covert operation
Trump has long denied any illegal conspiracy with Russia in his 2016 campaign, insisting that the allegations were trumped up by his political enemies. Likewise, Democrats claim that Durham’s probe is a political hatchet job.
Durham was appointed as special counsel by Trump administration Attorney General Bill Barr in October 2020, and tasked with investigating whether the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, code-named ‘Crossfire Hurricane,’ was opened and conducted legally.
Danchenko’s role in the affair emerged last year, when he was revealed as the primary researcher behind Steele’s explosive but dubious claims in the dossier, which was funded by the Democratic Party and Clinton’s campaign.
In FBI hands, the dossier was used to further its probe into Trump during the presidential campaign, and was cited in a FISA warrant application to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, an American who has never been criminally charged.
Durham previously signaled his interest in Danchenko and the Steele dossier by obtaining subpoenas in February for old personnel files and other documents related to Danchenko from the Brookings Institution, where he worked from 2005 until 2010.
Trump is seen at the 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow, on the trip that is at the center of the dossier’s most salacious allegations
Last year, Trump allies Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative Devin Nunes, top Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, made comments suggesting that Danchenko is a Russian agent.
Danchenko responded to the allegations with a statement denying that he was working as a spy for Russia.
Danchenko told Reuters in an email that he was merely ‘an experienced expert in Russian affairs who has spent more than a decade in business intelligence.’
Danchenko previously denied that he was working as a spy for Russia
‘My academic and business intelligence work in Russia has always been on behalf of Western clients and never on behalf of Russia,’ he added.
Danchenko also told the Guardian that he didn’t back down from the dossier’s claim that the Russians’ may have held compromising information on Trump. ‘I stand by it. I got it right,’ he said.
But he also downplayed the most salacious claims of the dossier, which also argued broadly that the Russians held financial leverage over the president.
He said he traveled to Russia and St. Petersburg, Russia to assist Steele in his reports.
He said his own work with sources of information in Russia amounted to ‘hearsay’ and ‘jest.’
Information about Danchenko’s role in gathering information for the 2016 dossier emerged during Senate look-backs at the Russia probe.
In September, Durham indicted cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann (above) accusing him of lying to the FBI about who he was working for in a tip-off about alleged Trump-Russia ties
Sussman (left) and FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith (right) are the only other people to be charged as part of Durham’s probe thus far
Durham has moved methodically and quietly since he first began probing Crossfire Hurricane in May 2019, first as a US Attorney and later as special counsel.
His office has been the source of very few media leaks and has issued only a handful of terse statements.
But in recent weeks the probe has appeared to be increasing in tempo and intensity.
In September, Durham indicted a cybersecurity lawyer, Michael Sussmann, accusing him of lying to the FBI during a September 2016 conversation in which he relayed concerns about potentially suspicious cyber contacts between a Trump Organization server and the server of a Russian bank.
The indictment alleges Sussmann told the FBI’s then-general counsel, James Baker, that he was not bringing the concerns to the FBI on behalf of any particular client when he was actually representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and a technology executive.
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers have attacked the case as driven by politics rather than facts.
The first criminal charges in Durham’s probe were against Kevin Clinesmith, an FBI attorney assigned to the Robert Mueller probe, who altered an email during the process of acquiring a wiretap warrant renewal on Page.
Clinesmith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.