Judge: Durham Can't Use Danchenko's Alleged Russian Intel Links at Trial (Newsmax)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 05 October 2022 09:12 AM EDT
A federal judge dealt several blows to special counsel John Durham in the case against Igor Danchenko, the alleged principal source of the discredited Steele dossier.
Judge Anthony Trenga on Tuesday night ruled that Durham's evidence cannot include details from the FBI's earlier counterintelligence investigation into the main source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele's discredited dossier, the Washington Examiner reported.
With the trial set to begin Tuesday, Durham sought to use evidence about Danchenko, a Russian-born lawyer, including his alleged links to Russian intelligence.
Durham previously said Danchenko was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation as a potential national security threat from 2009-11. The special counsel wanted findings from that investigation to be used at trial.
"The Court will exclude the details of the investigation," Trenga ruled Tuesday. "The probative value of these unproven allegations, i.e., Danchenko sought to facilitate the sale of classified information and that he had contact with Russian intelligence services, which would have to be established through multiple levels of hearsay, is of only marginal relevance in terms of proving the materiality of Danchenko's allegedly false statements. The evidence's low probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice and confusion of the issues."
The judge, a George W. Bush appointee who sits on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also denied Durham's request to provide other evidence, including showing that Danchenko allegedly misled about the sourcing for the unfounded "pee tape" claims that Steele put into his dossier.
Danchenko has been charged with five counts of lying to the FBI as part of Durham's probe into the origins of the original investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russian agents during the presidential race.
Durham said Danchenko, hired by the FBI In March 2017, remained a "confidential human source" (CHS) during special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the accusations against the Trump campaign.
The special counsel accused Danchenko of anonymously sourcing a fabricated claim about Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to Hillary Clinton ally Chuck Dolan, who spent years working for Russian businesses and the Russian government.
Danchenko also was accused of lying to the FBI about a phone call he claims he received from Sergei Millian, an American citizen born in Belarus.
Danchenko said Millian told him about a conspiracy of cooperation between former President Donald Trump and the Russians.
Trenga said that both "the government and Danchenko agree that the fact of a prior counter-intelligence investigation should be admitted at trial," but the defendant "wishes to exclude the details of the investigation," the Examiner reported.
The special counsel's team last week argued that simply mentioning the probe's existence and its closure would be misleading.
Prosecutor Michael Keilty said "the FBI closed the investigation because they mistakenly believed" Danchenko had left the United States, "but it wasn't because they hadn't found anything on Mr. Danchenko."