Federal agents arrested Igor Danchenko, the primary researcher of a dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, as part of Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Danchenko was taken into custody on Thursday, the New York Times (NYT) first reported. He was employed by Steele’s firm, Orbis Business International, but was previously investigated during the Obama administration as part of a probe into suspected Russian intelligence officers operating in Washington, DC. Before his time at Orbis, Danchenko worked as a Russia analyst at the liberal Brookings Institute, where he became known for accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of plagiarizing his economics dissertation.
Danchenko is charged with five counts of making false statements to investigators.
As part of his work on the Steele dossier, Danchenko claimed to have interviewed six individuals with knowledge of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, during a 2017 FBI interview, Danchenko contradicted many of the dossier’s key assertions. As a result, the FBI concluded that “the reliability of the dossier was completely destroyed,” according to Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Danchenko has defended his work on the Steele dossier, describing it as “raw intelligence from credible sources” in a 2020 interview with NYT. The dossier served as primary evidence for the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) warrant request for Trump campaign aide Carter Page, a Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General report found.
As part of his investigation into the origins of the DOJ probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Durham has targeted the production and dissemination of the Steele dossier. He indicted former Perkins Coie and Democratic National Committee attorney Michael Sussmann in September for lying to the FBI’s top attorney during a meeting in which Sussmann passed along allegations against the Trump campaign.