Special counsel John Durham’s investigators arrest analyst behind Steele dossier

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imageIgor 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 gotten information about Trump from 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.According to the indictment, the PR executive was a state chairman for both of Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996, and served as an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.He was also the chairman of a national Democratic political organization at one point, and actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the indictment.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.’ Danchenko’s father Yuri (above) spoke to DailyMail.com from his home in Perm, Russia 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.’ Danchenko’s wife, a corporate attorney in DC, did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com.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 in four counts 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.

The information purportedly conveyed by the anonymous caller included the allegation that there were ongoing communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and that the Kremlin might help get Trump elected.The indictment claims the purported call never took place.The most explosive allegations in the indictment related to the unnamed public relations executive, whose relationship with Danchenko is detailed at length.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 According to the indictment, an employee at a DC think tank introduced Danchenko to the PR exec with deep Clinton ties in February 2016.Subsequently, the two men discussed collaborating in Danchenko’s work for Steele, and the executive enlisted Danchenko’s help planning a conference for business executives in Moscow in October 2016.

The executive said of Danchenko in a June 2016 email to an acquaintance: ‘He is too young for KGB.But I think he worked for FSB,’ referring to Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor organization to the Soviet KGB.’Since he told me he spent two years in Iran.And when I first met him he knew more about me than I did.[winking emoji],’ the email added.

Danchenko has publicly denied being a Russian spy.

According to the indictment, Danchenko told the executive in an August 16, 2016 email that he had a ‘project against Trump’ and asked for ‘any thought, rumor, allegation’ regarding the resignation of Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who is identified in the indictment as ‘Campaign Manager-1’.The executive responded in an email that he’d had a ‘drink with a GOP friend’ and shared gossip that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewnandowski ‘hates’ Manafort and remained close to Trump.The allegation appeared nearly verbatim in a portion of Steele’s dossier, dated August 22, 2016.The indictment states that the PR executive later admitted to the FBI that he had never met with a ‘GOP friend,’ but instead had fabricated the meeting and gleaned his insights from public news sources.

The executive insisted that he wasn’t aware of the nature of Danchenko’s ‘project against Trump, and had no idea the information he furnished would later be provided to the FBI by Steele.According to the indictment, Danchenko told the executive in an August 16, 2016 email that he had a ‘project against Trump’ and asked for ‘any thought, rumor, allegation’ The executive responded in an email that he’d had a ‘drink with a GOP friend’ and shared gossip that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewnandowski ‘hates’ Paul Manafort The allegation appeared nearly verbatim in a portion of Steele’s dossier (seen above) In a subsequent interview with FBI agents on June 15, 2017, Danchenko falsely stated that he had never spoken to the PR executive about information that later appeared in the Steele dossier, according to the indictment.The indictment also suggests, without confirming, that the PR executive may have played some role in other aspects of the dossier, including its most salacious and inflammatory claims regarding deviant sex acts in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow.The indictment notes that in June 2016, the PR executive stayed in the Moscow hotel and spoke with the general manager, whom Danchenko later claimed was his source for the explosive allegation.Prosecutors allege that Danchenko’s false statements about his communications with the PR executive were ‘highly material’ in part because they influenced the FBI’s investigative steps as they probed the dossier’s claims.Steele is a former British intelligence officer who prepared the dossier for Fusion GPS, which was working for a law firm that represented the Democratic Party and Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.Two sources familiar with Durham’s activities told Reuters that he had issued subpoenas seeking evidence from multiple sources, including people linked to Fusion GPS.One of the sources familiar with Durham’s activities said Fusion GPS was not a target of Durham’s investigation.

Steele had previously declined to cooperate with investigators working for Durham and could not be reached for comment.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 June 15, 2017, Danchenko falsely stated that he had never spoken to the PR executive about information that later appeared in the Steele dossier, according to the indictment Prosecutors allege that Danchenko’s false statements about his communications with the PR executive were ‘highly material’ 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 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.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.Danchenko is the third person, and second in a two-month span, to face charges in Durham’s probe.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..

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