A top prosecutor for special counsel John Durham has withdrawn from the criminal case against Igor Danchenko, who was a source for the anti-Trump Steele dossier, less than two months before the trial is set to begin.
Assistant special counsel Andrew DeFilippis withdrew from the case, according to a filing late Sunday by Mr. Durham. The filing did not offer any more details.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Mr. DeFilippis has a November trial in New York in which he is prosecuting two Americans charged with providing material support to the Islamic State. That trial is scheduled to start roughly three weeks after the Danchenko case, so it’s possible the departure was designed to keep from spreading himself too thin.
The high-profile departure comes at an odd time in the case, with Mr. Danchenko’s trial scheduled to start Oct. 16 and both sides mired in a fight over whether his lawyers can use classified information.
Mr. DeFilippis oversaw the failed prosecution of former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was charged with lying to the FBI. In May, a jury in Washington concluded that Mr. Sussmann was not guilty after about six hours of deliberation.
Mr. DeFilippis was also a key prosecutor in Mr. Durham’s case against Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to falsifying evidence to justify investigators’ continued surveillance of Carter Page, an adviser to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
It is not publicly known if Mr. Durham has any more cases pending or if Mr. DeFilippis would continue to be involved in those cases.
Mr. Danchenko last fall was charged with repeatedly lying to the FBI about how he compiled information for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier of now-debunked accusations tying Mr. Trump to Russia. He has pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Danchenko is accused of intentionally misleading the FBI when he denied in a 2017 interview that his primary source for a section of the dossier was Charles H. Dolan Jr., a former aide to Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, lost the election to Mr. Trump.
Both sides have spent the summer fighting over the use and production of classified documents.
Earlier this month, Mr. Danchenko filed a motion signaling that he intends to use classified information in his defense. That motion was filed under seal and did not offer details on how the materials could help defense attorneys make their case.
Mr. Durham filed his own objection, also under seal, saying he opposed the “use, relevance and admissibility” of classified information.
The government has already provided Mr. Danchenko’s attorneys with 5,000 classified documents and 61,000 unclassified documents, according to a May court filing.