On Tuesday, a jury acquitted Igor Danchenko, an analyst hired to compile part of the Steele dossier, which is suspected of being the 2016 president of Donald Trump. ties between the campaign and Russia, and he is accused of lying to the FBI..
Why it matters: It’s a major blow to Special Counsel John Durham’s years-long investigation into the origins of the Russia probe and possible wrongdoing by U.S. law enforcement.
- Danchenko is the third person charged and subsequently charged in the investigation. The trial is expected to be the last vote before the Durham investigation ends.
- The jury began deliberating on Monday whether to convict or acquit Danchenko.
Context: In November 2021, Danchenko was charged with five counts of lying to the FBI, though a judge later threw out one of the counts, saying the specific charges were insufficient to bring before a jury, The Washington Post reported.
- The indictment alleges that Danchenko knowingly misrepresented his conversations with “secondary sources” in FBI interviews conducted to corroborate allegations in Steele’s dossier, which was indirectly funded by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
- The FBI opened its investigation after George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, told Australian diplomats he knew Russia had damaging material about Trump’s 2016 rival, Clinton .
- Misinformation from Danchenko in the dossier was later used by the FBI to obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
- In a 2019 report, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz criticized the FBI’s handling of the dossier, saying it failed to ensure the accuracy of the information.
- Horowitz also said the dossier played no role in the FBI’s investigation, which he said was ultimately unaffected by political bias.
Big picture: In 2019, then-Attorney General Bill Barr appointed Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe that began in July 2016.
- Durham, a grand jury who recently heard evidence due this fall, is not seeking to call another evidence, the New York Times reported, suggesting he and his team may be wrapping up their investigation and getting closer to their findings final report.
- Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith was sentenced in August 2020 to 12 months of probation and 400 hours of community service after admitting to altering email evidence used to obtain a surveillance order against Page.
- In May 2022, Michael Sussmann, whose law firm represented the Clinton campaign in 2016, was charged with lying to the FBI in the first trial sparked by the Durham investigation. acquitted.
- The Durham investigation cost $4.4 million in taxpayer funds from October 2020 to March 2022, according to a spending report released by the Durham office.
deeper: DOJ releases 2019 memo on Barr’s decision not to charge Trump with obstruction
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with new details.