John Durham Can’t Discuss Trump Dossier Source’s Alleged Links to Russian Intelligence at Trial: Judge

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Special counsel John Durham and his team can’t tell jurors about how the primary source for the anti-Donald Trump dossier has had links to Russian intelligence, a U.S. judge ruled on Oct. 4.

The FBI opened an investigation into Igor Danchenko, the dossier source, after a colleague of his tipped off authorities, saying Danchenko had said he could get the person money in exchange for classified information.

The FBI investigation advanced after agents learned that Danchenko had been in touch with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers and had in the past been interested in becoming a Russian intelligence officer himself. But the bureau closed the probe in 2010, claiming that Danchenko had left the country.

Danchenko later told agents in 2017 that he had contact with multiple people he believed were Russian intelligence officers.

Durham’s team asked the court in September to let prosecutors discuss what the FBI learned during the investigation.

“The Government anticipates that a potential defense strategy at trial will be to argue that the defendant’s alleged lies about the sourcing of the Steele Reports were not material because they had no effect on, and could not have affected, the course of the FBI’s investigations concerning potential coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government. Thus, the Government should be able to introduce evidence of this prior counterintelligence investigation (and that [sic] facts underlying that investigation) as direct evidence of the materiality of the defendant’s false statements,” prosecutors said at the time.

“Such evidence is admissible because in any investigation of potential collusion between the Russian Government and a political campaign, it is appropriate and necessary for the FBI to consider whether information it receives via foreign nationals may be a product of Russian intelligence efforts or disinformation.”

Defense lawyers said the fact that Danchenko was investigated by the FBI could be admitted but said prosecutors shouldn’t be able to use any of the details unearthed during the investigation.

By Zachary Stieber

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