Russian Source for Steele Dossier Indicted for Lying To FBI

Igor Danchenko's indictment further undercuts dossier's credibility

Christopher Steele / Getty Images
November 4, 2021

The Russian analyst who served as the main source for the Steele dossier was indicted Thursday on charges that he lied to the FBI about his efforts to compile information on Donald Trump, as well as his interactions with a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton.

Igor Danchenko is accused of lying in five interviews with the FBI in 2017 regarding his work on the dossier, which the FBI used to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Danchenko worked as a contractor for Christopher Steele, the former British spy who investigated Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.

Special Counsel John Durham’s indictment further undercuts the credibility of the dossier, which the FBI relied on heavily during its investigation of Donald Trump. The indictment also raises questions about why Danchenko is only now being charged with lying to the FBI. The indictment says he lied during interviews with the FBI conducted between March and November 2017.

According to the indictment, Danchenko withheld from the FBI that he received information from a U.S. public relations executive alleging links between Russia and the Trump campaign, which he passed to Steele. The executive is not identified by name, but the indictment says he is a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton and served in former president Bill Clinton's State Department.

Danchenko, a former analyst at the liberal Brookings Institution, also allegedly lied to the FBI by claiming that a Russian-American businessman had phoned him with a tip about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. According to the indictment, Danchenko never received the phone call from the businessman, who has been identified as Sergei Millian. Millian has long denied that he was a source for the dossier.

According to the indictment, Danchenko’s lies were material to the FBI’s ability to evaluate the dossier, which the bureau used to obtain warrants to surveil Trump aide Carter Page. According to the indictment, the executive’s support for Clinton called into question his "reliability, motivations, and potential bias as a source of information" for the dossier.

The indictment cast further doubt on the dossier’s salacious allegation that Trump used prostitutes during a stay at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow in 2013. Danchenko included the allegation in a memo dated June 20, 2016, which alleges that the Kremlin had video footage of prostitutes urinating on Trump. But according to the indictment, the PR executive told the FBI he had talked to hotel staff about Trump’s stay and that they did not mention any salacious sexual activity.

The indictment also shows sloppy investigative work on the part of Danchenko. In an August 2016 email quoted in the indictment, Danchenko asked the executive for any "thought, rumor, or allegation" he could find about Paul Manafort, then-chairman of the Trump campaign. The executive provided information to Danchenko that he claimed he received from a Republican friend. The executive later told the FBI that he fabricated that claim, and that he had obtained it from public reporting.

The indictment also shows that the FBI knew that Danchenko had lied about his efforts to compile the dossier as early as 2017. FBI agents secretly recorded Danchenko during the interviews and knew that he had provided inaccurate information about his dirt-digging efforts.

This is Durham’s third indictment in an investigation that began in April 2019. He charged former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith with altering an email about Carter Page’s relationship with the CIA. Durham charged cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann in September with making false statements to the FBI’s general counsel in September 2016 regarding an investigation he was leading into possible links between Trump and a Russian bank. Sussmann allegedly denied he was working on behalf of a client with interest in the information, when he was in fact working for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.