Durham probe: Analyst charged with lying to FBI about Christopher Steele’s Trump-Russia dossier

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  • An analyst who contributed research to a dossier detailing alleged ties between former President Donald Trump and Russia was arrested during the 2016 election.
  • Igor Danchenko, the analyst, was indicted in a grand jury indictment in 2017 with five counts of making false statements to the FBI about the so-called steel dossier during interviews with agents.
  • The arrest was part of an ongoing investigation by special counsel John Durham, who was appointed during the Trump administration to investigate the roots of the Trump-Russia investigation.

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A Russian analyst who contributed critical research into a so-called steel dossier that detailed alleged ties between former President Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 election was arrested Thursday as part of an investigation by special counsel John Durham. .

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Analyst Igor Danchenko was charged with five counts of making false statements to FBI agents in a grand jury indictment During several interviews with agents in 2017 About his work providing information to Christopher Steele, a former British spy for the dossier.

Steele’s controversial dossier on Trump became the basis for an application for an FBI warrant to tap the phone of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, a month before Election Day in 2016.

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Steele’s investigation was funded by the firm Fusion GPS, which itself was hired by the Democratic National Committee to conduct opposition research on then-Republican candidate Trump.

Danchenko, 43, is the third person criminally charged in the Durham investigation, which centers on the origins of a federal investigation into suspected coordination of the Trump campaign with Russian agents to influence the outcome of the 2016 race for the White House.

The Justice Department said Danchenko, a Russian resident in Virginia, was taken into custody Thursday morning. He later appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.A, where he was reportedly released on a $100,000 bond.

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Danchenko told FBI agents that he had never communicated with a public relations executive who was active in Democratic politics about the allegations in Steele’s report, when in fact Danchenko did The executive was charged with at least one of those charges.

That public relations executive has not been identified by name in the indictment, but an attorney for him confirmed to CNBC that he is Charles Dolan Jr., who most recently worked at KGlobal in Washington. Dolan has worked on issues related to Russia.

Dolan also served as the state president of President Bill Clinton’s Virginia presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996, and is a former executive director of the Democratic Governors Association. An online biography suggests that he was also on the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy at the State Department.

“Chuck understands and appreciates your interest,” Dolan’s attorney, Ralph Martin, told CNBC. “I can confirm that he is PR Executive-1 in the indictment. Since he is a witness in an ongoing case, it would not be appropriate for Chuck to comment further on the allegations in the indictment at this time.”

Danchenko is also accused of falsely telling agents that he received an anonymous call in July 2016 from a man he believed to be the then-president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, which was later “conspired” by Steele. conspiracy” was described. Cooperation” between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

Durham’s office said in a press release, “Information allegedly provided by the unidentified caller included an allegation that communications were ongoing between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and that the caller indicated that the Kremlin was Trump.” can help you get selected.”

The indictment says that Danchenko “never received any such phone call or such information” from the person and never arranged to meet with the person in New York, as he claimed from FBI agents.

It is alleged that Danchenko’s lies had a major impact on the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.

It notes that the FBI’s application for a warrant relating to Page relied heavily on Steele’s report to Fusion GPS, which was based on information gathered by Danchenko.

The FBI “was not ultimately able to substantiate or substantiate most of his substantive allegations,” the indictment says.

The indictment states that some of Danchenko’s alleged lies “deprived FBI agents and analysts of potential information” that would have helped them check the credibility of the reports they received.

Christopher Schafbuch, the lawyer representing Danchenko in the 2017 civil case, would not confirm or deny that he was currently Danchenko’s lawyer.

In September, Durham received an indictment against then-Perkins Coe law firm partner Michael Sussman for allegedly lying to the FBI after he filed a report in 2016 about a possible secret electronic channel between Trump’s company and a Russian bank. Tip was offered. Sussman has denied the allegation.

In January, Kevin Klinesmith, a former FBI attorney, Page was sentenced to probation for falsifying a claim used to maintain surveillance.

Trump and his allies have strongly criticized the steel dossier, which contains unsubstantiated and disproportionate claims.

They have argued that the entire original federal investigation into Trump’s relations with Russia and the potential obstruction of justice by Trump for seeking to curtail the investigation was baseless and tainted by political motivation because of the steel dossier.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that there was an aggressive attempt by Russian agents to use social media and computer hacking to aid Trump’s bid to win the presidency over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But Mueller said he did not find enough evidence to accuse people associated with the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Russians.

Mueller did not accuse Trump of any wrongdoing, but his final report clearly did not exonerate the then-president.

“If we had believed the president had clearly committed no crime, we would have said so,” Mueller told reporters in 2019.

Mueller filed more than 100 criminal charges against three Russian companies and nearly three dozen individuals, including half a dozen former Trump advisers, among them former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort.

Durham was tasked with investigating the roots of the Trump-Russia investigation during the Trump administration.

Trump himself has repeatedly called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.” But he has repeatedly expressed disappointment with the Durham investigation, which has to date not resulted in criminal charges that seriously undermine the conclusions of Mueller’s investigation.

– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Brian Schwartz

Correction: In September, Durham received an indictment against then-Perkins Coe law firm partner Michael Sussman. An earlier version misspelled Sussman’s name.

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