A Russian analyst who contributed to a Democratic-funded dossier on Russia-Trump ties was detained on Thursday on accusations of lying to the FBI about his sources of information, one of whom was a Hillary Clinton friend. Igor Danchenko’s case is part of special counsel John Durham’s ongoing inquiry into the beginnings of the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia plotted to sway the 2016 presidential election.
The case does not invalidate investigators’ conclusions that the Kremlin supported Trump’s campaign conclusions that were not based on the dossier. The five-count indictment accuses Danchenko of lying to the FBI about his role in gathering material for Christopher Steele, a former British spy hired by Democrats to probe Trump-Russia ties. Danchenko, a Russian living in the United States who worked as an analyst at the Brookings Institution and specialized in Russian and Eurasian issues, was a key source for Steele as he prepared his dossier of research.
According to the indictment, Danchenko lied to the FBI by denying that he discussed any of the dossier’s accusations with a person who worked as a public relations executive and was also a longstanding Democratic operative who campaigned for Clinton, Trump’s 2016 opponent. In fact, according to the indictment, Danchenko anonymously sourced one or more accusations in the dossier to that Clinton associate, who is not named in court documents. According to the indictment, Danchenko told the FBI that he had gathered information about Trump’s actions at the hotel from a variety of sources but didn’t know whether the sexual claims were accurate.
Danchenko is also accused of lying to the FBI regarding a phone contact he claims he had in July 2016 with someone he thought was the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. According to the dossier and Danchenko’s FBI testimony, that person informed him of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia. Both the dossier and the Durham investigation are political in nature. Durham was chosen by Trump’s Justice Department after Trump claimed the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia was a witch hunt. The Durham investigation has been slammed by Democrats as politically motivated, but the Biden administration has done nothing to halt it.
According to Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, the concerns from Danchenko were deleted from the final three surveillance applications, making the dossier appear more trustworthy than even one of its own sources thought it was. Danchenko has stated that the material he provided to Steele was not intended to be presented as absolute truth. Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity attorney, was charged in September with lying to the FBI during a 2016 conversation in which he expressed worries about possibly suspicious cyber interactions between a Trump Organization server and a Russian bank’s server.