Russian Analyst Who Contributed to Infamous Steele Dossier Charged With Lying to FBI
13:57 GMT 04.11.2021 (Updated: 16:20 GMT 04.11.2021)
Russian Analyst Igor Danchenko took part in the creation of the so-called Steele Dossier - a report containing allegations of collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government.
Igor Danchenko, one of the analysts behind the Steele dossier, which claimed former US President Donald Trump cooperated with the Russian government during his 2016 presidential campaign, was arrested on Thursday as part of the Durham investigation and charged with five counts, US Justice Department said.
The Russian-born analyst is charged with making false statements to the FBI, with the Justice Department saying that he allegedly lied about the source of the information provided to the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Danchenko is set to appear in an Alexandria, Virginia court on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. local time.
Earlier, The New York Times reported on Danchenko's arrest, citing people familiar with the matter.
John H. Durham was appointed by ex-President Trump to examine the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing. Durham himself has not commented on the report.
The notorious Steele dossier, which is a compilation of allegations and claims that the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russian government in order to win the 2016 presidential election, has been discredited by US investigators as unreliable and based largely on anonymous sources. In addition, a report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate the claims of the Trump-Russia "collusion", found no evidence of any conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin.
Even after the dossier was debunked, both Danchenko and his employer, former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, defended their work. In a 2020 interview with the NYT, Danchenko claimed that his job was only to gather “raw intelligence” and was simply passing it on to Steele. The latter, in his turn, has continued to insist that he still believes that Trump colluded with Russia.
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Former President Trump has himself branded the allegations of "collusion with Russia" as nothing but a "witch hunt" and "the Russia hoax". He appointed Durham in order to scrutinise the way the FBI investigated the claims about "collusion" - a probe that began in 2016 and has since drawn many questions. Particularly, the Justice Department criticised the FBI in 2019 for failing to inform judges that some of the things Danchenko told them had cast doubt on the claims made in the dossier.
Durham showed interest in Danchenko back in February when he used a subpoena to obtain old personnel files about the analyst from the Brookings Institution, where Danchenko used to work.
The Russian-born analyst was identified as one of the sources "who provided data and analysis" for the infamous Steele dossier in 2020, with the personality of Danchenko stirring additional doubts about the credibility of Steele's claims. At the time, the NYT noted that, by turning to Danchenko for the information, Steele had ended up "relying not on someone with a history of working with Russian intelligence operatives or bringing to light their covert activities but instead a researcher focused on analysing business and political risks in Russia".