Special Counsel Durham May Personally Try Danchenko Case, Court Filing Indicates

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Special Counsel John Durham has indicated he will personally argue before the court his case against Igor Danchenko, a source for the infamous Steele dossier who’s facing multiple charges of lying to the FBI.

Durham filed a Notice of Appearance with the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Aug. 1, which suggests he will present the case to the court himself, rather than leaving the task to his staff attorneys as before (pdf).

Durham was the only one speaking for the prosecution during the case’s status conference before the court on Aug. 1, Epoch Times on-scene reporter Terri Wu confirmed.

The Danchenko trial is the last one Durham has lined up unless he files more indictments.

Durham indicted Danchenko, a Russia analyst formerly with the Brookings Institution, in November 2021. Danchenko was paid in 2016 by former British spy Christopher Steele to collect dirt on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Steele was in turn hired through business intelligence firm Fusion GPS to collect dirt on Trump by the campaign of Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Danchenko told the FBI some of the most explosive information he provided Steele came from Belarus-born real estate agent Sergei Millian, which was false, Durham’s indictment said. Millian never spoke with Danchenko.

Longtime Clinton operative Charles Dolan admitted to the FBI that he provided (and fabricated) some of the information that Danchenko passed on to Steele. Other unsubstantiated allegations came from Danchenko’s former schoolmate Olga Galkina.

Durham was tasked around March-May 2019 with reviewing the 2016–2017 FBI investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the election. The investigation didn’t establish any such collusion.

In August 2020, Durham indicted former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith for altering a CIA email to say that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page was “not a source,” when in fact he was providing information to the agency. The message was then used as a part of an application to extend surveillance of Page. FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted that the surveillance based on the extension was illegal.

Clinesmith pleaded guilty and in January 2021 received a year of probation and 400 hours of community service.

In October 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham as special counsel. In February 2021, Durham resigned from his position as a federal prosecutor after 35 years with the Department of Justice (DOJ), where he handled some of the most prominent investigations of FBI misconduct.

In September 2021, Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who in 2016 represented the Clinton campaign, for lying to the FBI. Sussmann approached then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in September 2016 with information about a supposed secret communications channel between Trump and Russia-based Alfa bank. FBI cybersecurity personnel looked into the allegation before dismissing it. Sussmann allegedly told Baker he didn’t come representing any client, when in fact he was billing the time to the Clinton campaign.

Sussmann’s lawyers attacked the indictment for relying on a single witness—Baker—before Durham revealed a message from Sussmann to Baker explicitly saying Sussmann was reaching out not representing any client. Baker, however, provided the message to Durham too late for it to be fully used in the trial. Sussmann was found not guilty.

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Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.