- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Attorneys for Igor Danchenko, a key source for the infamous Steele dossier, asked a federal judge to dismiss the criminal charges of lying to the FBI.

In a filing over the holiday weekend, defense attorneys said special counsel Robert Mueller would have indicted Mr. Danchenko if he had committed a crime.

Special counsel John Durham last year charged Mr. Danchenko with repeatedly lying to the FBI about how he compiled information for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier that was filled with now-debunked accusations tying former President Donald Trump to Russia.

Mr. Danchenko‘s trial is scheduled to begin in mid-October. In a preview of the defense his attorneys plan to offer, they argued that Mr. Mueller and the FBI looked into Mr. Danchenko’s actions and concluded he didn’t do anything wrong.

“Approximately thirty-four individuals were charged by Mueller’s office, including several for providing false statements to investigators. Mr. Danchenko was not among them,” defense attorneys wrote in a filing over the holiday weekend.

“To the contrary, not only did investigators and government officials repeatedly represent that Mr. Danchenko had been honest and forthcoming in his interviews, but also resolved discrepancies between his recollection of events and that of others in Mr. Danchenko’s favor,” the filing continued.

Defense attorneys said that Mr. Danchenko sat through “numerous” FBI interviews over an 11-month span in 2017 and provided “truthful information” to the government. They argued that Mr. Durham came in four years later looking for a crime after their client was cleared by the FBI and Mr. Mueller.

“Through the instant indictment, the Durham Special Counsel’s Office now claims to have uncovered false statements made by Mr. Danchenko that the previous special counsel did not, despite relying substantially on the same evidence, same statements, and the same agents involved in the Mueller investigation,” defense attorneys wrote.

As prosecutors tell it, Mr. Danchenko gathered information for the dossier that was built on exaggerations, rumors and outright lies. The indictment also suggests that Mr. Danchenko lied to Mr. Steele about how he was getting his information.

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 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The indictment says Mr. Danchenko told agents about interactions he purportedly had with the then-president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, believed to be Sergei Millian.

Mr. Danchenko claimed he had a phone conversation with Mr. Millian as part of the information he collected for the dossier and the two agreed to meet in New York.

In the filing, defense attorneys say Mr. Danchenko never told the FBI he spoke to Mr. Millian. Instead, they say Mr. Danchenko received an anonymous phone call from someone pretending to be Mr. Millian, but later turned out to be an imposter posting as the chamber president.

“The facts alleged in the indictment inexplicably argue that Mr. Danchenko did not in fact speak or meet with Chamber President-1. But that is essentially exactly what Mr. Danchenko consistently told the FBI throughout eleven months of interviews,” defense attorneys wrote.

If convicted on all five counts of lying to the FBI, Mr. Danchenko could face up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine for each charge.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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