Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who provided salacious, unverified rumors to British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of lying to the FBI in a 2017 meeting.
Mr. Danchenko is the third defendant in the 2½-year probe of special counsel John Durham, who is investigating potential wrongdoing in the early stages of the FBI’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
Appearing in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Mr. Danchenko spoke only when entering his plea.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga set a trial date for April 18, 2022. The first motions in the case are due Jan. 21.
Christopher Schafbuch, a defense attorney representing Mr. Danchenko, declined to answer reporters’ questions after the arraignment.
Mr. Danchenko, 43, is charged with five counts of making false statements to investigators regarding information that he fed to Mr. Steele. Those unproven allegations ended up in the so-called Steele dossier and became part of the basis for the FBI’s surveillance warrants for Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Prosecutors say those allegations were based on exaggerations, rumors and outright lies. Conversations that Mr. Danchenko purportedly had with sources either did not happen or came from elsewhere, according to court documents.
Some of the material compiled by Mr. Danchenko came from Charles Dolan, a public relations executive with longstanding ties with Hillary Clinton, prosecutors said. Instead, Mr. Danchenko told FBI officials that information came from high-level Russians with connections to the Kremlin, court documents say.
The fact that the information came from a Democratic Party source and not well-placed Russians raised questions about the “reliability, motivation and potential bias of the information,” court documents state.
In another instance, prosecutors allege that Mr. Danchenko made up a phone call that he claimed came from a Russia-U.S. chamber of commerce leader.
Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that “Danchenko fabricated these facts.”
Mr. Durham’s probe into the FBI’s handling of its Russia probe has led to two indictments and one conviction so far.
In September, Mr. Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign. Mr. Sussmann is accused of lying to the FBI when he delivered information about purported links between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
While Mr. Sussmann told FBI officials he was not representing any client, prosecutors say he was there on behalf of the Clinton campaign. He even billed the Clinton campaign for the meeting, according to court documents.
The links between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization were ultimately debunked.
Mr. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.
The Durham probe also ensnared Kevin Clinesmith, an FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to falsifying documents to justify the bureau’s continued surveillance of Mr. Page.