Analyst Acquitted Over Discredited Trump Dossier

Igor Danchenko acquittal is a big setback for Special Counsel John Durham
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 18, 2022 5:06 PM CDT
Analyst Acquitted Over Discredited Trump Dossier
Igor Danchenko leaves Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Nov. 4, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)

A jury on Tuesday acquitted a think tank analyst accused of lying to the FBI about his role in the creation of a discredited dossier about former President Donald Trump. The case against US-based Russia analyst Igor Danchenko was the third and possibly final case brought by Special Counsel John Durham as part of his probe into how the FBI conducted its own investigation into allegations of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The first two cases ended in an acquittal and a guilty plea with a sentence of probation. Danchenko betrayed no emotion as the verdict was read, the AP reports. "His wife wiped away tears after the clerk read the final "not guilty" to the four counts he faced. The charges against Danchenko alleged that he essentially fabricated one of his sources when the FBI interviewed him to determine how he derived the material he provided for the dossier.

Danchenko didn't comment after the hearing, but his lawyer, Stuart Sears, spoke briefly to reporters, saying, "We’ve known all along that Mr. Danchenko is innocent. We’re happy now that the American public knows that as well." The acquittal marked a significant setback for Durham. Despite hopes by Trump supporters that the prosecutor would uncover a sweeping conspiracy within the FBI and other agencies to derail his candidacy, the three-year investigation failed to produce evidence that met those expectations. The sole conviction—an FBI lawyer admitted altering an email related to the surveillance of a former Trump aide—was for conduct uncovered not by Durham but by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The two cases that Durham took to trials ended in full acquittals.

The Danchenko case was the first of the three to delve deeply into the origins of the "Steele dossier," a compendium of allegations that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was colluding with the Kremlin. Most famously, it alleged that the Russians could have blackmail material on Trump for his supposed interactions with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. Trump derided the dossier as fake news and a political witch hunt when it became public in 2017. Danchenko, by his own admission, was responsible for 80% of the raw intelligence in the dossier and half of the accompanying analysis, though trial testimony indicated that Danchenko was shocked and dismayed about how analyst Michael Steele presented the material and portrayed it as factual when Danchenko considered it more to be rumor and speculation.

(More John Durham stories.)

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