Analysis: Pro-Trump US Prosecutor loses ‘Russiagate’ Jury Verdicts but PR Battles Loom



U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

 U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, above right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, who was acquitted this October of false statements in the likely end of a Durham probe that began with his 2019 appointment by the Trump administration. Durham has sought to prove that Trrump was unfairly smeared by opponents, operatives and FBI personnel claiming that Trump and his campaign team had acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities.


By Andrew Kreig

Excerpted from Global Strat View

A Virginia jury verdict in October probably thwarted the last hope of Trump supporters to use a special counsel’s investigation of “Russiagate” to prove criminally in court that rogue members of the FBI conspired with Democrats to make false allegations of Russian help for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Trump supporters in Congress and the media are predicting, however, that they can use Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham’s final report to keep conspiracy allegations alive despite his losses in court.

william barr new oTrump Attorney General William Barr, right, named Durham in 2019 to investigate Trump’s allegations that Democrats working with FBI personnel smeared his 2016 campaign and several advisors with false theories of “collusion” with Russians.

“The special counsel’s looming report is the only chance the American people will ever get to hold the Clinton campaign and the FBI accountable for Russiagate,” according to a National Review article by conservative pundit Andrew McCarthy on Oct. 22, four days after the jury verdict.

donald trump for president button nice smileMeanwhile, Newsweek published “Durham Blasted by Experts After New Acquittal: ‘Laughed Out of Court Twice'” by Aila Slisco, who reported mockery of Durham elsewhere in the legal community for not fulfilling Trump’s prediction that the prosecutor would prove “the crime of the century” in a massive conspiracy. Below is a sample of comments from that article:

FBI logoLaurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, told Newsweek that the acquittal was evidence Durham’s “groundless mission has now failed yet again, putting yet another dismal marker on William Barr’s shameful record as Trump’s henchman and the worst Attorney General in our nation’s history.”

“John Durham racks up another acquittal, this time on a case he tried personally,” legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig tweeted. “His investigation will go down as a shameful abuse of prosecutorial power in service of political vengeance. Juries — our most basic civilian bulwark — have firmly rebuked this abuse of power.”

Read the rest of this Global Strat View story at:

About the Author: Andrew Kreig, a Global Strat View (GSV) advisory board member, edits the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project in Washington, DC, following a long career in law, journalism, and business. He covered the US Justice Department full-time for five years while working for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut and holds law degrees from both Yale and the University of Chicago. In "On Eve of ‘RussiaGate’ Trial, Questions Loom About Special Counsel Durham," he previewed in May for GSV the DOJ’s major “Russiagate” trials and he is now shaping several years of his research about the investigation into a book.


Click below to see a sampling of recent news clips about this much-reported case from other news and opinion outlets.



Igor Danchenko in 2021. A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the so-called Steele dossier (Photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).

Igor Danchenko in 2021. A jury acquitted Mr. Danchenko on Oct. 18 of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the so-called Steele dossier (Photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).


Relevant Books

seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionAbramson, Seth. Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America. Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Abramson, Seth. Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy. St. Martin's Press, 2019.

Abramson, Seth. Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump. St. Martin's Press, 2020.

Barrett, Wayne. Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudy Giuliani. Basic Books, 2000.

Cohen, Michael. Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump. Skyhorse Publishing, 2020.

Cohen, Michael. Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics. Melville House, 2022.

Comey, James. A Higher Loyalty: Truth Lies, and Leadership. Flatiron Books, 2018.

Harding, Luke. Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. Vintage Books (Division of Penguin Random House), 2017.

Isikoff, Michael and David Corn. Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. Twelve, imprint of Grand Central Publishing, 2018.

Khodorkovsky, Mikhail and Martin Sixsmith. The Russia Conundrum: How the West Fell for Putin's Power Gambit--and How to Fix It. St. Martin's Press, October 4, 2022.

wayne madsen fourth reich coverMadsen, Wayne. The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right. WMR Books, 2021.

McCabe, Andrew G. The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. St. Martin's Press, 2019.

McCarthy, Andrew C. Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. Encounter Books, 2019.

Meiere, Barry. Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies. Harper Collins, 2021.

Miller, Greg. The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy. HarperCollins, 2018.

Mueller, Robert. The Mueller Report: Final Special Counsel's Report of President Donald Trump and Russian Collusion. Thirteen Colony Press, 2019.

Papadopoulos, George. Deep State Target: How I Got Caught In the Crosshairs of the Plot To Bring Down President Trump. Diversion, 2019.

Nance, Malcolm. The Plot To Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and Wikileaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election. Skyhorse Publishing, 2016.

Putin, Vladimir. First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait By Russia's President. Public Affairs, 2000.

Simpson, Glenn and Peter Fritsch (Co-Founders of Fusion GPS). Crime In Progress. Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump. Random House, 2019.

Stone, Roger. The Making of a President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution. Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.

craig unger resized american kompromatUnger, Craig. House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. Dutton, 2021.

Unger, Craig. American Kompromat: House the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power and Treachery. Dutton, 2021.

Ward, Vicky. Kushner, Inc.: Greed, Ambition, Corruption: The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. St. Martin's Press, 2019.

Weisman, Andrew. Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation. Random House, 2020.


Related News Coverage

Nov. 2


konstantin klimnik

ny times logoNew York Times, The Untold Story of ‘Russiagate’ and the Road to War in Ukraine, Jim Rutenberg, Nov. 2, 2022. Russia’s meddling in Trump-era politics was more directly connected to the current war than previously understood.

hillary clinton buttonOn the night of July 28, 2016, as Hillary Clinton was accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in Philadelphia, Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, received an urgent email from Moscow. The sender was a friend and business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik (shown above). A Russian citizen born in Soviet Ukraine, Kilimnik ran the Kyiv office of Manafort’s international consulting firm, known for bringing cutting-edge American campaign techniques to clients seeking to have their way with fragile democracies around the world.

Kilimnik didn’t say much, only that he needed to talk, in person, as soon as possible. Exactly what he wanted to talk about was apparently too sensitive even for the tradecraft the men so fastidiously deployed — encrypted apps, the drafts folder of a shared email account and, when necessary, dedicated “bat phones.” But he had made coded reference — “caviar” — to an important former client, the deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who had fled to Russia in 2014 after presiding over the massacre of scores of pro-democracy protesters. Manafort responded within minutes, and the plan was set for five days later.

Kilimnik cleared customs at Kennedy Airport at 7:43 p.m., only 77 minutes before the scheduled rendezvous at the Grand Havana Room, a Trump-world hangout atop 666 Fifth Avenue, the Manhattan office tower owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Shortly after the appointed hour, Kilimnik walked onto a perfectly put-up stage set for a caricature drama of furtive figures hatching covert schemes with questionable intent — a dark-lit cigar bar with mahogany-paneled walls and floor-to-ceiling windows columned in thick velvet drapes, its leather club chairs typically filled by large men with open paul manafort abc flickr Customcollars sipping Scotch and drawing on parejos and figurados. Men, that is, like Paul Manafort, left, with his dyed-black pompadour and penchant for pinstripes. There, with the skyline shimmering though the cigar-smoke haze, Kilimnik shared a secret plan whose significance would only become clear six years later, as Vladimir V. Putin’s invading Russian Army pushed into Ukraine.

Known loosely as the Mariupol plan, after the strategically vital port city, it called for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland, where Kremlin-armed, -funded and -directed “separatists” were waging a two-year-old shadow war that had left nearly 10,000 dead. The new republic’s leader would be none other than Yanukovych. The trade-off: “peace” for a broken and subservient Ukraine.

The scheme cut against decades of American policy promoting a free and united Ukraine, and a President Clinton would no doubt maintain, or perhaps even harden, that stance.

But Trump was already suggesting that he would upend the diplomatic status quo; if elected, Kilimnik believed, Trump could help make the Mariupol plan a reality. First, though, he would have to win, an unlikely proposition at best. Which brought the men to the second prong of their agenda that evening — internal campaign polling data tracing a path through battleground states to victory. Manafort’s sharing of that information — the “eyes only” code guiding Trump’s strategy — would have been unremarkable if not for one important piece of Kilimnik’s biography: He was not simply a colleague; he was, U.S. officials would later assert, a Russian agent.

Oct. 22

National Review, Opinion: Waiting for Durham, Andrew C. McCarthy, right, Oct. 22, 2022. The special counsel’s looming report is the only chance the American andrew mccarthypeople will ever get to hold the Clinton campaign and the FBI accountable for Russiagate.

national review logoSpecial counsel John Durham performed a valuable public service by bringing to cold, stark light the FBI’s Russiagate abuses and the imperative that the bureau — its reputation in tatters — be subjected to intense congressional scrutiny and reform. Nevertheless, the prosecutions by which he has thus far made his record could be its ultimate undoing.

In a four-year investigation, Durham has established collaboration — mostly of the nod-and-wink variety — between Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the government’s law-enforcement-and-intelligence apparatus, in an effort to baselessly frame Donald Trump as a clandestine agent of the Kremlin. What grates is that, far from being held accountable, the significant participants are still celebrated.

FBI logoThe only chance we have ever had to find out what really happened to spawn Russiagate was for Durham, with compulsory access to all the relevant players and intelligence, to write a comprehensive report. He took a calculated risk by bringing comparatively trivial cases against minor players, before what were sure to be hostile jury pools.

He has gotten the predictable results: acquittals across the board. And now, as night follows day, Democrats and other Trump antagonists are mobilizing to preempt Durham’s coming report — urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to “pause” its public release, on the argument that the acquittals illustrate that Durham, heretofore of stellar bipartisan reputation, is an unreliable Trump lackey.

Oct. 21

Emptywheel, Bill Barr Complains That His Special Counsel Was Unable To Match Robert Mueller’s Record Of Success, (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. 21, 2022. Even marcy wheelerbefore the Igor Danchenko trial, Billy Barr declared victory in defeat — arguing that if John Durham could just “fill in a lot of the blanks as to what was really happening,” the inevitable acquittal would still give Durham an opportunity to spin fairy tales about what Durham imagines happened.

“What these cases show is that these are difficult cases to win,” Barr said. “There’s a reason it takes so long, and you have to build up the evidence because at the end of the day, you’re going before these juries that aren’t going to be disposed to side with the people they view as supporting Trump.”

After the trial, Barr has been spending time on Fox News declaring — as much of the frothy right has — that this record exposed the corruption of what Barr calls “Russiagate,” the moniker frothers use to distract from the real substance of the Russian investigation.

Oct. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: John Durham’s investigation proved Trump wrong, not right, Editorial Board, Oct. 20, 2020 (print ed.). At what might be the end of his tenure as Justice Department special counsel, John Durham (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo at left) has failed to fulfill former president Donald Trump’s prediction that he would unveil “the crime of the century” in his investigation into the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe. Instead, the lawyer mostly confirmed, as others had already concluded, that there was no crime of the century at all.

john durham jip IMG 8238Then-Attorney General William P. Barr tapped Mr. Durham 3½ years ago to look into the Justice Department’s hunt for links between Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Since then, $5.8 million in taxpayer money has fueled a fruitless search for evidence of a hoax or witch hunt that did not exist. Two indictments, both flimsy, have ended in not-guilty verdicts. And what has emerged more or less matches what Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz already revealed in his own 2019 report: There remains no reason to believe that the FBI’s 2016 probe was improperly predicated.

Meanwhile, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 2019 report on Russia’s interference efforts, the Trump team’s determination to benefit from those efforts, and connections between the two, still show that there was ample reason for the FBI to investigate the 2016 Trump campaign, despite Trump allies’ persistent claims to the contrary.

Now that Mr. Durham [shown above left in a Justice Integrity Project photo] has failed to secure a guilty verdict in the second of two trials, and now that the grand jury that he used to hear evidence is expiring, it looks as though the special counsel will likely write a report and end his work. This is for the best. The evidence stubbornly shows that the FBI’s inquiry wasn’t politically motivated, even after Mr. Durham spent so much money and so many months trying to show otherwise.

The same can’t be said for Mr. Durham’s investigation, which, from the start, was a prime example of Trump-era Justice Department politicization. Mr. Barr launched the Durham investigation as Mr. Trump pressured the department on the Russia probe. By making Mr. Durham a special counsel, Mr. Barr made it more difficult for any future attorney general to end the inquest. As long as the Durham proceedings persisted, Trump allies could predict that an anti-Trump deep-state conspiracy would soon be revealed, no matter how unfounded the accusations.

The only good news is that, however many others have proved Mr. Trump wrong, now so has the very man he said would prove him right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The three-year effort to undercut the Russia probe comes up dry, Philip Bump, Oct. 20, 2020 (print ed.). A few robert mueller waving handsmonths after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, appeared on Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers’ questions about the investigation he led into Russia’s effort to influence the 2016 election, the Justice Department inspector general released a much-anticipated follow-up.

It didn’t consider the question of whether Donald Trump or people in his campaign had aided or been linked to Russia, as Mueller had. Instead, the inspector general’s report released in December 2019 considered whether the probe that Mueller inherited from the FBI had itself been legitimate.

For two years, Trump had insisted that it wasn’t. He took to calling the Russia investigation a hoax or a witch hunt well before anyone had any sense of what was being investigated, much less any likely conclusions. He and his allies hoped that the report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz would provide them ammunition — particularly given that the impeachment investigation was just heating up.

In that regard, Horowitz’s report was a letdown. It confirmed that the FBI had a valid reason to open an investigation into links between a Trump campaign adviser and Russia, especially because the adviser had told an Australian diplomat he had learned Russia possessed stolen data from Hillary Clinton.

Concerns were articulated, including in text messages between two FBI employees in which Trump was disparaged. More concerning was the discovery that an FBI lawyer had altered a document that was included in an effort to obtain a warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign official with links to Russia. Generally, however, Horowitz’s conclusion was one Trump didn’t want to hear: The Russia probe was properly predicated and legitimate.

Oct. 19

NBC News, Opinion: Special counsel John Durham’s failure belongs to William Barr, Dennis Aftergut (former federal prosecutor), Oct. 19, 2022. Barr’s attempts to rehabilitate his image cannot erase his sad final legacy as a Trump enabler.

nbc news logoSpecial counsel John Durham, who once enjoyed a solid reputation as a prosecutor, now owns what may be the worst trial record of any special counsel or independent prosecutor in American history: no wins, two losses.

william barr new oDurham’s ignominious record further tarnishes the reputation of former Attorney General William Barr, right, the man who brought Durham to Washington in May 2019 and gave him the job of trying to poke holes in the FBI’s 2016 Trump-Russia investigation. Just before his exit from the Trump administration in December 2020, Barr protected Durham from removal by elevating him from a U.S. attorney within the Justice Department to the more protected role of special counsel.

On Tuesday, Durham suffered his second straight trial loss. A D.C. jury acquitted Igor Danchenko on all four remaining counts in Durham’s 2021 indictment for making false statements to the FBI. Last Friday, Oct. 14, the federal judge overseeing the case tossed the first count as unsupported by the evidence.

Durham’s previous defeat came in May, when another D.C. jury acquitted Michael Sussmann, the one-time Clinton campaign lawyer. As in Danchenko’s trial, Durham failed to convict Sussmann of making false statements to the FBI.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Durham probe has turned out to be one of the biggest Republican strategic blunders of all time, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 19, 2022. bill palmerHere’s the thing about former Attorney General Bill Barr. He was skilled at corruptly protecting a number of Donald Trump’s allies by sabotaging or burying the criminal cases against them.

But Barr was never going to be able to magically get false charges to stick to any of Trump’s enemies, because nothing works that way. Instead Barr made superficial moves to fool Trump into believing that his enemies would be taken down – and none of those moves had any chance of succeeding.

bill palmer report logo headerTake, for instance, Bill Barr’s appointment of Special Counsel John Durham to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. In other words, Durham’s job was to make up false charges against various people in and around the DOJ who first connected Trump to Russia, so that Trump could claim the entire Trump-Russia scandal was a “hoax.”

In the nearly two years since Trump was booted from office, Durham has remained on the job. Trump supporters seemed convinced that Durham would somehow put the entire DOJ, and the entire Democratic Party, in prison. And even liberal pundits couldn’t stop talking about all the “damage” that Durham was supposedly going to cause, and how Durham’s antics were somehow going to hand the Republicans some huge midterm advantage. Then came yesterday.

By all accounts Durham’s probe is now at the end of the line. Having found nothing substantive, he tried to falsely nail two people on process crimes, in the hope of saving face – and he couldn’t even pull that off.

Emptywheel, John Durham Avenged Warrants Targeting Carter Page By Getting A Warrant Targeting Sergei Millian, Emptywheel (March Wheeler, right), Oct. 19, 2022. In both his opening and closing marcy wheelerstatements, John Durham prosecutor Michael Keilty described the materiality of the alleged lies Igor Danchenko told the FBI about Sergei Millian, left, by pointing to the role the Steele report on Millian played in getting FISA warrants Sergei Millian (shown in a screenshot from ABC-TV).targeting Carter Page.

The right wing is defending John Durham today because he avenged an American who was unfairly targeted by a warrant.

And along the way, they seem to have missed that Durham himself obtained a bunch of apparently pointless search warrants targeting American citizens, including Trump fan Sergei Millian.

The Federalist, Opinion: Media Shame Durham After Danchenko Verdict, But It’s Russia Hoaxers Who Should Be Embarrassed, Margot Cleveland, Oct. 19, 2022. Jury verdicts are not an indictment of John Durham, and he is not the one who should be embarrassed.

A Virginia jury acquitted Steele dossier’s primary sub-source Igor Danchenko on Tuesday of charges he lied to the FBI about a supposed telephone call he received in the summer of 2016. On numerous occasions during the Crossfire Hurricane and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigations, Danchenko told the FBI he had received an anonymous telephone call from an individual he believed was Sergei Millian.

christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedAmong other things, Danchenko maintained the caller revealed there was a well-developed “conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian officials — claims Christopher Steele, left,, incorporated into his infamous dossier, which the FBI then used to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, court orders to intercept Carter Page’s telephone and email conversations.

Tuesday’s non-guilty verdict came after a day-and-a-half of deliberation and following a four-day trial at which Special Counsel John Durham’s team presented evidence that Danchenko did not know Millian and had not received any telephone calls during the relevant time frame that might fit the description of the call Danchenko claimed he received.

Danchenko’s defense attorneys skillfully countered that Danchenko had told the FBI that the anonymous call may have been received on an internet app and thus there would be no record of the call. The defense team also provided the jury with evidence showing that Danchenko and Millian were both in New York during the time frame in which Danchenko claimed they had scheduled a meeting.

anthony trengaThe jury’s acquittal followed the dismissal on Friday by presiding Judge Anthony Trenga, right, of the special counsel’s false-statement count premised on Danchenko’s claim to the FBI that he had never “talked” to Charles Dolan — a Democrat booster and Clinton crony — about portions of the dossier. In tossing that count, Trenga reasoned that because Danchenko’s relevant exchanges with Dolan were via email, it was literally true that Danchenko had not “talked” with him about the material contained in the dossier.

michael sussmann perkins youngerNo sooner had news broken of the jury’s non-guilty verdict on the remaining four counts than the Russia-collusion hoaxers declared the defeat an “embarrassment” to Special Counsel Durham.

Durham has taken two cases to trial, and both have ended in acquittals. After more than three years looking for misconduct in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, Durham has only secured one conviction: the guilty plea of a low-level FBI lawyer, who got probation.

No doubt, the acquittal of Danchenko, and before him former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, left, were disappointing. But the jury verdicts are not an indictment of Durham, and he is not the one who should be embarrassed.

Oct. 18

Newsweek, Durham Blasted by Experts After New Acquittal: 'Laughed Out of Court Twice,' Aila Slisco, Week of Oct. 18, 2022. Former Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham to investigate possible misconduct in the FBI's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. While Trump and his allies claimed that Durham's investigation would uncover evidence of a massive "deep state" conspiracy against the former president, it has failed to do so.

newsweek logoInstead, the investigation has only resulted in three indictments that do not include any allegations of a conspiracy against Trump. In addition, the only two indictments that Durham took to trial resulted in full acquittals. Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer with links to the 2016 presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was also acquitted this year of lying to the FBI.

Durham said in a statement that he was "disappointed in the outcome" of the trial on Tuesday but had "respect" for the jury's decision, according to the Associated Press.

Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, told Newsweek that the acquittal was evidence Durham's "groundless mission has now failed yet again, putting yet another dismal marker on William Barr's shameful record as Trump's henchman and the worst Attorney General in our nation's history."

Analysts and other experts also denounced Durham's investigation and mocked his latest failure on social media.

  • "John Durham racks up another acquittal, this time on a case he tried personally," legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig tweeted. "His investigation will go down as a shameful abuse of prosecutorial power in service of political vengeance. Juries -- our most basic civilian bulwark -- have firmly rebuked this abuse of power."
  • "The John Durham investigation is a disgrace and a fiasco," attorney and former CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin tweeted. "Two acquittals at trial in a system where the feds win 95% of their cases. Trump and Barr said Durham would prove the Russia investigation unjustified. He's proven the opposite.
  • "Now it's time to see if John Durham's 'investigation' was legally conducted, if he behaved ethically, and if he and others remaining from Trump's DOJ should be prosecuted," tweeted former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.

Trump told Fox News this year that the Durham probe would uncover evidence of "the crime of the century," while predicting that the investigation was "just the beginning."

The former president had not weighed in on the acquittal as of Tuesday evening, although he did claim that his administration had "fully" uncovered "'Deep State' corruption" in a Truth Social post earlier in the day.

Oct. 18

Politico, Durham loses again in court, but trial airs FBI flaws, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 18, 2022. The Danchenko verdict is the latest setback for the Trump-appointed special counsel's investigation into the FBI and Russia inquiry.

politico CustomSpecial Counsel John Durham’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation suffered another high-profile blow Tuesday, but his disciples see a silver lining in the veteran prosecutor’s checkered courtroom record.

After about nine hours of deliberations, a federal jury acquitted Russian policy researcher Igor Danchenko on Tuesday on four felony false-statement charges brought as part of Durham’s probe of misinformation that triggered the FBI probe of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Simply put, federal prosecutors are not used to losing. So, Durham’s defeat at the Danchenko trial — which came less than five months after a similar acquittal in another case brought by the special prosecutor — represents an unmistakable defeat.

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acquittal of Russia Analyst Deals Another Blow to Trump-Era Prosecutor, Linda Qiu and Charlie Savage, Oct. 18, 2022. John Durham, the special counsel looking into the origins of the Russia investigation, had accused Igor Danchenko of lying to the F.B.I.

Igor Danchenko, an analyst who provided much of the research in a notorious dossier of unproven assertions and rumors about former President Donald J. Trump and Russia, was acquitted on Tuesday on four counts of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources.

The verdict was another stinging defeat for the special counsel, John H. Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr three years ago to investigate the F.B.I.’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Steele dossier source acquitted, in another loss for special counsel Durham, Salvador Rizzo and Rachel Weiner, Oct. 18, 2022. 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.

fox news logo SmallFox News, Commentary: Danchenko trial: Jury finds Steele dossier source not guilty on all counts, Jake Gibson and Brooke Singman, Oct. 18, 2022. Fox News correspondent David Spunt has the latest on the trial verdict on 'Your World.' Igor Danchenko served as source for discredited anti-Trump Steele dossier.

A jury on Tuesday found Russian national Igor Danchenko, the primary sub-source of the anti-Trump dossier, not guilty on all four counts of making false statements to the FBI.

john durham CustomThe charges had been brought by Special Counsel John Durham, left, who is investigating the origins of the FBI's original Trump-Russia investigation.

The Danchenko trial is the second out of Durham's years-long investigation, and the second time a jury delivered an acquittal.

stuart searsFormer Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann was found not guilty of making false statements to the FBI in June.

"We’ve known all along that Mr. Danchenko was innocent," Danchenko's attorney, Stuart Sears, right,said Tuesday. "We’re happy now that the American public knows that as well."

Durham, shortly after, issued a formal statement on the verdict.

"While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service," Durham said Tuesday. "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."

new york post logoNew York Post, Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko acquitted of lying to FBI in latest Durham trial, Samuel Chamberlain and Victor Nava, Oct. 18, 2022. A key source for the salacious and discredited Trump-Russia dossier was acquitted by a federal jury Tuesday, in a case that nevertheless produced several bombshells about the FBI’s handling of its probe into the 45th president’s 2016 campaign.

The Virginia panel cleared Igor Danchenko of four counts of lying to the bureau following approximately 10 hours of deliberation across two days after the case judge dropped a fifth count against him last week.

Washington Times, Primary source of Steele dossier acquitted on charges of lying to the FBI in major defeat for Durham, Jeff Mordock, Oct. 18, 2022. Special counsel John Durham’s likely final trial ended in another defeat Tuesday as a federal jury acquitted Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who was the primary source of the anti-Trump Steele dossier, on charges of making false statements to the FBI.

The jury deliberated for about nine hours over two days before acquitting Mr. Danchenko, who showed no reaction to the verdict.

It was the second acquittal for Mr. Durham in as many trials, leaving him with the guilty plea of a low-level FBI lawyer who was sentenced to probation as his only win.

Emptywheel, Investigative Commentary, John Durham’s Last Word: An Outright Lie About The Mueller Conclusions, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. marcy wheeler18, 2022. [I}t matters that Durham lied about the conclusion of the Mueller investigation when he claimed, “Director Mueller, a patriotic American, the former director of the FBI, concludes there’s no evidence of collusion here or conspiracy.”

Mueller didn’t charge conspiracy and it is true that he said the available evidence did not prove it (in at least two cases, notably, because people had destroyed mobile app communications).

Mueller pointedly said his statement explaining that he didn’t charge conspiracy doesn’t mean there is no evidence of conspiracy, but John Durham got up before a jury and asserted that anyway. To defend his actions spending almost twice as long hunting for guilt as Mueller did investigating Trump aides for their potential role in a crime, Durham affirmatively claimed what Mueller said one could not claim.

And yet, when it came time to prove his own case, to explain why he hadn’t taken basic steps to disprove a mobile app call, Durham instead squandered his time inventing false claims about the results of the Mueller investigation.

We’ll see what the jury has to say about Durham’s defense of his prosecution. But there is no more fitting way for Durham to end this fiasco than to lie about how and why it all got started in the first place.

Oct. 16

Emptywheel, John Durham’s Missing Signals (And Facetime And Whatsapp And Ipad), Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler), right, Oct. 16, 2022. As is common, the case agent marcy wheelerfor the Durham investigation against Igor Danchenko, Ryan James, was the last witness on Friday. Case agents are often used to summarize the case against a defendant and introduce boring communications records that the prosecution will rely on in the closing arguments.

By description, he’s the single current or former FBI employee of five who testified at the trial (the others being Brian Auten, Kevin Helson, Amy Anderson, and Brittany Hertzog) who described no expertise in Russian counterintelligence.

James’ job was to introduce a bunch of travel and communications records that — Durham will claim on Monday — rule out the possibility that Igor Sergei Millian (shown in a screenshot from ABC-TV).Danchenko got a call from an anonymous caller, probably around July 24 or 25, 2016, someone Danchenko claimed to believe was Sergei Millian, left.

This is the burden Durham chose to take on when he charged Danchenko with four counts — the four remaining after danny onoratoJudge Anthony Trenga dismissed the fifth on Friday — about whether Danchenko was lying on four different occasions in 2017 when he described what he had believed in July 2016.

 Danny Onorato, right, emphasized the reference to LinkedIn at more length with Auten on cross.

The reason Danchenko’s referral to his LinkedIn is important (aside from the prior communication that never got introduced as evidence) is because people often list all modes of communication at LinkedIn, including their mobile apps. Danchenko’s current LinkedIn bio has a link to his Telegram linked in logoaccount.

 If Danchenko had those apps listed on his LinkedIn in 2016, as he has Telegram listed on his LinkedIn today, then it would be readily apparent how Millian could have figured out how to call Danchenko in late July 2016: on the LinkedIn profile that Danchenko explicitly pointed him to.

The explanation from Ryan James — an FBI agent who likely worked closely with Durham since the start of his FBI career, but who claims no expertise at all in counterintelligence — about how he ruled out a call to Danchenko from Millian (much less anyone else) in 2016 did nothing to exclude mobile app calls, at all.

Oct. 17

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Deliberates in Trial of Analyst Who Gathered Steele Dossier Claims, Linda Qiu and Charlie Savage, Oct. 17, 2022. A Trump-era special prosecutor and a defense lawyer delivered starkly clashing views in closing arguments on Monday about the motives of Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst who was a key contributor to the so-called Steele dossier.

What to Know About the Trump Investigations

  • Numerous inquiries. Since leaving office, former President Donald J. Trump has been facing several investigations into his business dealings and political activities. Here is a look at some notable cases:
  • FBI logoClassified documents inquiry. The F.B.I. searched Mr. Trump’s Florida home as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into his handling of classified materials. The inquiry is focused on documents that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, when he left the White House.
  • Jan. 6 investigations. In a series of public hearings, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack laid out a comprehensive narrative of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. This evidence could allow federal prosecutors, who are conducting a parallel criminal investigation, to indict Mr. Trump.
  • Georgia election interference case. Fani T. Willis, the Atlanta-area district attorney, has been leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the efforts of Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. This case could pose the most immediate legal peril for the former president and his associates.
  • New York State’s civil case. Letitia James, the New York attorney general, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and his family business, accusing both of a sweeping pattern of fraudulent business practices. The yearslong investigation has been focused on whether Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets were part of a pattern of fraud or simply Trumpian showmanship.
  • Manhattan criminal case. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been investigating whether Mr. Trump or his family business intentionally submitted false property values to potential lenders. But the inquiry faded from view after signs emerged suggesting that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be indicted.