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Steele file source arrested in Durham investigation

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These reports, known as the Steele File, helped fuel the FBI’s investigation and fueled law enforcement requests to a secret surveillance court for warrants to review communications from a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

However, several claims on the record turned out to be false, prompting Congress, the Inspector General, and criminal investigations into how the reports were compiled and why the U.S. government gave them such credibility.

In a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. On Thursday afternoon, prosecutors did not request that Danchenko be detained while he awaits trial.

Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan ordered Danchenko’s release on an unsecured bond of $ 100,000.

Prosecutor Michael Keilty said there was a plan for Danchenko to surrender on Thursday, but due to a “press leak” the FBI arrested the accused instead.

Prosecutors allege that in a series of interviews with the FBI, Danchenko fabricated details and altered the sequence of key events he described and linked to the so-called case. The indictment also alleges that he worked closely with at least one person close to Clinton’s presidential campaign and that Danchenko falsely denied having any contact with that person.

Danchenko was first identified as Steele’s source amid a Republican Senate investigation that culminated in the closing weeks of last year’s presidential election. Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) released a transcript of an interview Danchenko conducted with the FBI in January 2017, in which he revealed that some of the most explosives from the Steele case were based on hearsay and rumor. .

The transcript was declassified by then Attorney General William Barr, shortly before the Department of Justice turned it over to Graham.

Although Graham did not identify Danchenko when he released the drafted interview summary, the document contained enough identifying information that Danchenko was quickly revealed to be Steele’s anonymous source.

Around this time, Graham released another document – also declassified by Barr – which included a summary of an FBI counter-intelligence investigation into Danchenko from 2009 to 2011. The investigation included a review to see if Danchenko was looking for to obtain classified information on behalf of Russia, but it was closed without any conclusion, and Danchenko continued to reside in the United States.

Still, Trump’s allies have underlined the closed investigation to label Danchenko a “spy” and accuse the Democrats and the FBI of having exploited Russian disinformation by deploying the dossier to obtain the surveillance warrant on Page.

The new indictment does not allege that Danchenko worked for the Russian government or Russian interests, but it suggests that he could have been. The charges indicate that in June 2016, a public relations official and Democratic activist with close ties to the Clinton campaign wrote an email that said of Danchenko: “He’s too young for the KGB. But I think he worked for the FSB. Since he told me he spent two years in Iran. And when I first met him, he knew more about me than I did. [winking emoticon]. “

The public relations official who offered Danchenko’s candid assessment is not named in the indictment, but is longtime Democratic activist and Russian relations expert Chuck Dolan Jr. , a lawyer for Dolan confirmed Thursday.

“Chuck understands and appreciates your interest. I can confirm he’s PR Executive-1 in the indictment, ”attorney Ralph Drury Martin said in a statement. “As he is a witness in an ongoing case, it would not be appropriate for Chuck to comment further on the indictment allegations at this time.”

Dolan is not charged in the case.

He served in the 1980s as executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, then as President of the State of Virginia for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996 and as an advisor for the presidential candidacy of John Kerry in 2004 and that of Hillary Clinton in 2008. Dolan, a former congressman, most recently worked as senior vice president at the public affairs companies Ketchum, Prism and kglobal.

At Ketchum, Dolan worked on the company’s lobbying efforts for the Russian Federation, according to documents filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. His webpage at kglobal, where he was a senior adviser, was taken down shortly after the news of Danchenko’s arrest was announced.

During Thursday’s hearing, Keilty said the government believed Danchenko had been in contact with people at the Russian embassy on several occasions. The prosecutor called this “worrying” and demanded that Danchenko be placed under surveillance there for this and other reasons.

Buchanan agreed, but after Keilty said surveillance of the location probably could not be arranged on Thursday and prosecutors had not objected to Danchenko’s release in the meantime, the judge appeared disturbed and said change of opinion.

“So, you couldn’t be very worried” about his flight, Buchanan said. “In that case, I will give up electronic surveillance.

Buchanan ordered Danchenko to stay away from possible witnesses in the case, but the lack of oversight means he might be able to set up such a meeting without the knowledge of the FBI.

When Danchenko left the courthouse a few hours after the hearing, he ignored questions from reporters. A lawyer for Danchenko, Mark Schamel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday before US District Court Judge Anthony Trenga.

Danchenko is the third person to face criminal charges in the Durham Inquiry, which Barr granted official special advocate status in October 2020.

Last month, Durham filed an indictment against DC attorney Michael Sussmann, claiming he made a false statement to the FBI’s attorney general at the start of the Russia investigation. Sussmann, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of misleading the FBI by denying that he represented the Democratic National Committee or any other client when he conveyed suspicions about potential links between the computers in the Trump Tower and a Russian bank.

In January of this year, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith was sentenced to one year probation for modifying an email related to a surveillance request that was part of the Russia investigation.


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