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Special counsel John Durham’s investigators arrest analyst behind Steele dossier


Igor Danchenko was taken into custody on Thursday by US federal agents

A key source who provided information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele for his ‘dirty dossier’ of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested in the US. 

Igor Danchenko, a Russian-born analyst living in the United States, was arrested on Thursday by federal agents assigned to John H. Durham’s special counsel inquiry into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, according to the Justice Department.  

Danchenko is the third person, and second in a two-month span, to face charges in Durham’s probe. 

Danchenko was the primary researcher for Steele’s dossier alleging that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russia in a covert operation to beat Hillary Clinton, and that Russia had salacious videos that could be used to blackmail Trump.

Many of the dossier’s claims remain unproven or have been debunked, though the document was cited by the FBI in a secret warrant application to spy on a Trump campaign advisor.

Igor Danchenko, a Russian-born analyst living in the United States, was arrested on Thursday by federal agents assigned to John H. Durham's special counsel inquiry

Igor Danchenko, a Russian-born analyst living in the United States, was arrested on Thursday by federal agents assigned to John H. Durham’s special counsel inquiry

Special Counsel John H. Durham is investigating whether the FBI's Trump-Russia probe, code-named 'Crossfire Hurricane,' was opened and conducted legally

Special Counsel John H. Durham is investigating whether the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, code-named ‘Crossfire Hurricane,’ was opened and conducted legally

The charges against Danchenko were not immediately clear, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf. A Justice Department spokesman confirmed Danchenko’s arrest, which was first reported by The New York Times.

Trump has long denied any illegal conspiracy with Russia in his 2016 campaign, insisting that the allegations were trumped up by his political enemies.

Durham was appointed as special counsel by Trump administration Attorney General Bill Barr in October 2020, and tasked with investigating whether the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, code-named ‘Crossfire Hurricane,’ was opened and conducted legally.

Danchenko’s role in the affair emerged last year, when he was revealed as the primary researcher behind Steele’s explosive but dubious claims in the dossier, which was funded by the Democratic Party and Clinton’s campaign.

In FBI hands, the dossier was used to further its probe into Trump during the presidential campaign, and was cited in a FISA warrant application to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, an American who has never been criminally charged.

Durham previously signaled his interest in Danchenko and the Steele dossier by obtaining subpoenas in February for old personnel files and other documents related to Danchenko from the Brookings Institution, where he worked from 2005 until 2010.

Danchenko was the primary researcher for British ex-spy Christopher Steele's (above) dossier alleging that Trump's 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russia in a covert operation

Danchenko was the primary researcher for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s (above) dossier alleging that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russia in a covert operation

Last year, Trump allies Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative Devin Nunes, top Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, made comments suggesting that Danchenko is a Russian agent. 

Danchenko responded to the allegations with a statement denying that he was working as a spy for Russia. 

Danchenko told Reuters in an email that he was merely ‘an experienced expert in Russian affairs who has spent more than a decade in business intelligence.’

Danchenko previously denied that he was working as a spy for Russia

Danchenko previously denied that he was working as a spy for Russia

‘My academic and business intelligence work in Russia has always been on behalf of Western clients and never on behalf of Russia,’ he added.

Danchenko also told the Guardian that he didn’t back down from the dossier’s claim that the Russians’ may have held compromising information on Trump. ‘I stand by it. I got it right,’ he said.

But he also downplayed the most salacious claims of the dossier, which also argued broadly that the Russians held financial leverage over the president.

He traveled to Russia and St. Petersburg, Russia to assist Steele in his reports.

He said his own work with sources of information in Russia amounted to ‘hearsay’ and ‘jest.’

Information about Danchenko’s role in gathering information for the 2016 dossier emerged during Senate look-backs at the Russia probe. 

Durham has moved methodically and quietly since he first began probing Crossfire Hurricane in May 2019, first as a US Attorney and later as special counsel.

His office has been the source of very few media leaks and has issued only a handful of terse statements. 

Developing story, more to follow. 



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