ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A key source for the anti-Donald Trump Steele dossier was acquitted on all counts by jurors in Virginia on Oct. 18.
Igor Danchenko, a Russian national, was acquitted on four counts of lying to the government after about 10 hours of deliberations.
“We’ve known all along that Mr. Danchenko was innocent. We’re happy the American public now knows that as well,” Stuart Sears, a lawyer representing Danchenko, told reporters outside the Albert V. Bryan courthouse in Alexandria.
Danchenko, 44, has bragged that he was the primary source for the dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by Democrats including Hillary Clinton.
Special counsel John Durham prosecuted the case.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service. I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case,” Durham said in a statement.
The only other trial for Durham’s team also ended in a not guilty verdict.
Joel Greene, one of the jurors, said that the jury “looked at all the evidence really closely.”
“The conclusion we reached was the conclusion we all agreed on,” he told reporters, adding that the verdict was “pretty much unanimous.”
A fifth count was tossed before reaching jurors by U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga, the George W. Bush appointee overseeing the case.
Danchenko was charged in November 2021 with five counts of lying to FBI agents during interviews about the dossier. One count related to Danchenko claiming he had not spoken with Charles Dolan, a longtime Clinton associate, about any information that was included in the dossier. That was the one that was thrown out. Danchenko’s lawyers have said their client did not lie because he did not talk, but communicated over email, with Dolan. Trenga said prosecutors did not prove Danchenko lied.
The other four counts related to Sergei Millian, a pro-Trump businessman. Danchenko said he thought he spoke to Millian over the phone in July 2016 and was planning to meet him in New York but provided no evidence in support of the claims.
There were no call records showing any contact between numbers associated with Millian and Danchenko, FBI agents testified. There were also no indications the pair communicated via voice or messaging applications. Further, Danchenko in emails to Millian and another person the month after the supposed planned meeting did not mention a call for a planned meeting.
“Ladies and gentleman, we have proven to you beyond a reasonable doubt every one of those counts, that the defendant never received a call from Sergei Millian, and that he never received a call from an anonymous caller,” Michael Keilty, an assistant special prosecutor, said in closing arguments.
After the dossier was released to the public in 2017 by Buzzfeed, Danchenko described to FBI agents the information he shared with Steele as rumors and expressed disdain for how the information was presented, his handling agent testified.
Danchenko was investigated by the FBI after allegedly telling colleagues in 2008 that he could get them money in exchange for classified information. The probe was closed two years later after the FBI mistakenly believed Danchenko had left the country. Danchenko actually stayed, violating U.S. immigration law, according to Durham.