A Virginia federal jury found Igor Danchenko, a key source for the so-called Steele dossier of phony dirt on former President Trump, not guilty on all four remaining counts of lying to the FBI Tuesday.
The verdict, which came after just one day of deliberations, was a blow to Special Counsel John Durham, who was tasked with finding the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation. The dossier, which contained derogatory information on Trump that was never corroborated, was put together by former British spy Christopher Steele for operatives of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and then passed on to the FBI.
In closing arguments Monday, Durham indicated that he believed the FBI had bungled the Trump-Russia probe that hamstrung the 45th president’s administration for nearly three years, but said Danchenko’s lies had played a role. Danchenko initially faced five counts of making false statements to the FBI, one of which was dismissed by the court. The jury acquitted him of the other four.
The trial revealed a number of revelations about the FBI and its investigation into false claims of the Trump campaign coordinating with Russian agents. For example, the FBI offered dossier author Christopher Steele $1 million to corroborate his compilation of fabrications and rumors about the Trump. The ex-British spy never claimed the reward because he was unable to corroborate the information he reported.
Durham was especially critical of the FBI in his closing remarks in court, which may be his some of his last public comments before his report. He said “the FBI mishandled the investigation at issue” and that “the FBI didn’t do what they should have done.” “The FBI failed here,” he added, according to The Washington Examiner.
Danchenko’s trial was Durham’s last chance at securing a conviction in his investigation into the origin’s of the Trump/Russia hoax. As it stands, Durham has been able to secure only one guilty verdict: former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to altering an email used to obtain a warrant to surveil Trump’s 2016 campaign. Clinesmith was sentenced to probation in January 2021.
Durham failed earlier this year to secure a convicted of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, who attempted to peddled dirt to the FBI of a fake backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank. Sussmann approached then-FBI general counsel James Baker with the claim in September 2016. Baker claimed that Sussmann misrepresented himself as a concerned citizen when the attorney was working for the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump.
A jury in May acquitted Sussmann on a single charge of making a false statement to the FBI. The special counsel is not expected to bring any more charges before making his report on his investigation into Crossfire Hurricane.