John Durham Requests 30 Subpoenas in Trial Against Steele Dossier Source

John Durham Requests 30 Subpoenas in Trial Against Steele Dossier Source
Special Counsel John Durham. (U.S. Department of Justice via AP)
Jack Phillips

Special counsel John Durham asked a federal court to send out 30 subpoenas for testimony in the pending trial against research analyst Igor Danchenko, who was the alleged main source for the discredited "Steele dossier" that targeted former President Donald Trump.

In a June 13 filing, Durham's team said, "It is respectfully requested that the Clerk of said Court issue subpoenas as indicated below for appearance of said Court in Alexandria, Virginia ... to testify on behalf of the United States" on Oct. 11.
The judge in the case is U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2008.
Danchenko, who has pleaded not guilty, is charged with lying to the FBI. Durham alleges that he made five false statements to the FBI in connection to information he provided to former UK spy Christopher Steele, who was hired by an opposition research company on behalf of a law firm working for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

According to Durham's indictment, Danchenko’s alleged fabrications “were material to the FBI because ... the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign relied” on the dossier to obtain secretive warrants to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“The FBI ultimately devoted substantial resources attempting to investigate and corroborate the allegations contained in” the dossier, including whether Danchenko’s sub-sources were reliable, the indictment states. The dossier and information provided by Danchenko “played a role in the FBI’s investigative decisions and in sworn representations that the FBI made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court throughout the relevant time period," according to last year's complaint.

Steele Dossier

Memos compiled by Steele—collectively known as the Steele dossier—claimed that Trump colluded with Russian officials to help him defeat Clinton in 2016. Trump has categorically denied the allegations, saying they're part of a longstanding Democrat-backed narrative designed to discredit him.
Igor Danchenko is seen at a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 10, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Igor Danchenko is seen at a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 10, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

And a number of allegations contained within the dossier turned out to be false, sparking inspector general, criminal, and congressional investigations.

Durham said Danchenko made up a conversation that he claimed was the source of some of the more sordid claims contained within the dossier. The dossier also alleged that Russian intelligence officials were blackmailing Trump, which the former president has denied.

The indictment suggests that the claim came from a Democratic public relations executive, Charles Dolan Jr., who toured a suite in Moscow in 2016 that was once used by Trump. But Dolan and another witness told investigators that there was no mention of inappropriate behavior in the suite, according to the indictment, casting further doubt on Steele's claims.

In a 2019 report released by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Danchenko told the FBI that he obtained his information via word of mouth and hearsay from sources in Russia. But some of his sources denied that they provided him with information that was contained within the Steele dossier, according to court filings submitted in 2021.

Danchenko is the third person to be charged by Durham's team. The second, former Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann, was found not guilty of lying to the FBI several weeks ago.

As he appeared at the federal court in Alexandria last year, Danchenko's former lawyer, Mark Schamel, issued a statement saying that his client's work as a researcher is “above reproach.”

“For the past five years, those with an agenda have sought to expose Mr. Danchenko’s identity and tarnish his reputation while undermining U.S. National Security," Schamel said.

One of Danchenko's lawyers, Stuart Sears, didn't respond to a request for comment by press time.