Steele dossier source acquitted, in loss for special counsel Durham

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Obviously the Deep State in action:

A jury on Tuesday found Igor Danchenko — a private researcher who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations about former president Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — not guilty of lying to the FBI about where he got his information.

The verdict in federal court in Alexandria, Va., is another blow for special counsel John Durham, who has now lost both cases that have gone to trial as part of his nearly 3½-year investigation. Durham, who was asked by Attorney General William P. Barr in 2019 to review the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016, is sure to face renewed pressure to wrap up his work following the verdict.

Trump predicted Durham would uncover “the crime of the century” inside the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies that investigated his campaign’s links to Russia. But so far, no one charged by the special counsel has gone to prison, and only one government employee has pleaded guilty to a criminal offense. In both trials this year, Durham argued that people deceived FBI agents, not that investigators corruptly targeted Trump.







The jury in Danchenko’s case deliberated for about nine hours over two days. Juror Joel Greene said in an interview that there were no holdouts in the deliberations and that the decision was “pretty unanimous.”
“We looked at everything really closely,” said Greene, who declined to comment on the politics of the case. “The conclusion we reached was the conclusion we all were able to reach.”
Durham, a longtime federal prosecutor who was U.S. attorney in Connecticut during the Trump administration, personally argued much of the government’s case against Danchenko. The special counsel alleged Danchenko misled the FBI officials asking in 2017 about his sources, after the agency determined the researcher was the unnamed person behind some of the most explosive allegations about Trump in reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.







The trial could be Durham’s last. A grand jury that the special counsel had been using in Alexandria is now inactive, people familiar with the matter have told The Washington Post, though the status of a similar panel in D.C. was not immediately clear. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment when asked if Durham would continue as special counsel in the wake of the Danchenko acquittal.
Barr, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon after the jury announced its verdict, declined to comment. In a statement released by the Justice Department after the verdict, Durham said, “While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service. I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”
A representative for Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.



After the verdict was announced, Danchenko choked up and embraced his defense attorneys, Stuart A. Sears and Danny C. Onorato. Danchenko declined to comment, but Sears said outside the courthouse “we’ve known all along that Mr. Danchenko is innocent.”
“We’re happy now that the American public knows that as well,” he said.
To win a conviction, Durham had to convince jurors both that Danchenko lied and that his deception had a “material” impact on the FBI’s investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Defense attorneys argued that Danchenko believed what he was telling agents was true and that it was not a crime to give unsure answers to imprecise questions.

In May, a jury in D.C. federal court acquitted cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann, who also was accused by the special counsel of lying to the FBI. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was sentenced to one year of probation after admitting in a 2020 plea deal with Durham that he had altered a government email used to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.


After his investigation is complete, Durham will be required to write a report, but deciding how much of it, if any, to release to the public would be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The indictment listed five charges against Danchenko for statements made to FBI investigators about whether his sources included a longtime Democratic public relations executive, Charles Dolan Jr., and Sergei Millian, a former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga dismissed the charge related to Dolan before the case went to the jury.

For Durham, the FBI’s handling of the Steele reports has been a key area of investigative interest. Steele was hired to produce the reports by research firm Fusion GPS, which had been retained by a law firm that represented Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Committee. A website funded by a deep-pocketed Republican donor initially hired Fusion GPS to dig into Trump’s background.


But the FBI began to look into possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia before it used the Steele dossier to support the warrant applications covering Page. The Justice Department inspector general determined that the FBI was justified in starting the probe, which eventually would be taken over by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Mueller did not find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but a report from his office mapped out various links between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin and characterized the campaign as eager to benefit from Russia’s help in 2016.

In his closing remarks, Durham defended his investigation as apolitical and a “logical” consequence, following Mueller’s failure to find that the Trump campaign illegally conspired with Russia.


FBI witnesses testified that some emails and information about Dolan and Millian that Danchenko kept to himself would have been valuable to investigators vetting the sources for the dossier’s claims in 2017. An FBI supervisor who led intelligence analysts in the 2016 Trump probe, Brian Auten, and a special agent working in Russian counterintelligence, Kevin Helson, both testified they might have taken different steps had they known as much as Danchenko. So did two members of the Crossfire Hurricane team.
But Auten and Helson also described Danchenko as a trusted source of information on Russian influence activities that U.S. investigators mined for years — testimony that seemed to frustrate Durham, whose questions for the FBI officials then turned more aggressive.

 

ihhawk

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Feb 4, 2004
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As a legal expert can you explain the illegality of the situation?
The charges that Durham brought were mainly lying to the FBI. Process crimes that honestly mean nothing.

I read something yesterday that makes a lot of sense frankly. This all comes down to the report that Durham writes. Similar to the Mueller report. Some of the information used in the trial wouldn’t have been made public in a report so it is used in the trial so it is public knowledge.

Similar to the Mueller report, the Durham report will mainly be used as a political football in hearings next year. The Who, What, when, and why of how the Dossier was written and used.

For example, the meeting in Trump tower wasn’t illegal, but it sure got the juices flowing for the left
 
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ihhawk

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Why would you compare these two investigations?

One resulted in dozens of indictments and convictions. The other resulted in ZERO.
You know as well as I do that the left views Muellers work as a failure. Process crimes for those folks and financial crimes for Manafort mean nothing to you. It’s all about Trump.

The people Durham charged are piss ants that don’t impact what he is about to write on paper. The FBI will be under the microscope in the hearings
 

ihhawk

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I do also want to add that even after the GOP hearings, it won’t matter. It will only be watched by one side. No one will care and DC continues on
 

Joes Place

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Aug 28, 2003
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You know as well as I do that the left views Muellers work as a failure.

They do?

With all of the convictions? "The left" views William Barr's sabotage of the investigation as a problem, but the investigation itself yielded quite a lot of information.

As did 2 Senate Intel Committee reports, which clearly outlined Russian collusion and meddling.
 
Nov 28, 2010
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Simply the most snowflakey shit. To think anything and everything that doesn’t go your way is rigged. The thing is, there really is a lot of truly important shit that is actually kinda rigged. But that gets sort of covered up and obscured by the everything is rigged crap.
Right.

The scary thought for me is that the GOP is quite openly setting up to steal the 2024 election. Unfortunately, the Dems have spent the last 2 years screaming how awful and wrong it is to challenge our elections.

So what will the Dems do in 2024 (or 2022, for that matter) when - and it's almost certainly when, not if - the GOP does steal the election?

If the Dems don't hold Congress in the midterms (and improve their hold in the Senate) and if they don't pass and enforce legislation to strengthen the integrity of our electoral process, what will save American democracy?
 
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Nov 28, 2010
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You know as well as I do that the left views Muellers work as a failure.
Only because it didn't result in any top level perp walks. Not because it failed to demonstrate the Trump team's willingness to collude with Russians to subvert our elections.

Maybe you didn't see Trump's willingness to subvert our elections in 2016. OK, I get that. Many didn't want to see that. But after the 2020 election and 1/6 and all the law suits and whatnot, how is it possible that you can't look back and see that these tendencies were on display even back in 2016?

Seriously.
 

ihhawk

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Feb 4, 2004
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Here is where the GOP comes in with the hearings

However, Durham and his aides used the forum of the recent trials to air evidence of what they suggested was a failure by FBI personnel to pursue leads as they probed the sourcing of the Steele dossier, a compendium of allegations former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele assembled about links between Trump and Russia. Danchenko was Steele’s key source when compiling the dossier.

Durham’s open criticism of the FBI produced an unusual spectacle at the trial, as he and his team attacked the competence of FBI agents and analysts who were the prosecution’s key witnesses. The back-and-forth led to disclosures about senior investigators’ refusal to pursue inquiries that more junior FBI personnel thought were warranted, as well as ongoing efforts to discipline FBI personnel over issues related to the Trump-Russia investigation.

Defenders of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe have said Durham’s criticisms have focused on a relatively small part of the broad investigation, although Durham could offer more disclosures in a forthcoming report.
 

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