Durham Admits He Has No Real Evidence on Four Millian Counts against Igor Danchenko

In the middle of a motion in limine arguing, in part, that the Durham prosecutors should be able to introduce two sets of emails from Sergei Millian to one of the journalists who gave Igor Danchenko Millian’s contact information, John Durham admits that those emails are the most probative evidence he’s got that Millian never met or spoke with Danchenko.

Fourth, whether the statements are the most probative evidence on the point. Millian’s emails written contemporaneous to the events at issue are undoubtedly the most probative evidence to support the fact that Millian had never met or spoken with the defendant.

Mind you, whether Millian ever spoke to Danchenko or not is irrelevant to whether Danchenko believed that he had.

But Durham appears not to understand that.

If you don’t mind, I think I’ll punctuate this post with stupid Millian Tweets — like some Greek chorus — while I take breaks to wrap my brain around how Durham got his ass so badly handed to him by Sergei Millian.

Durham appears not to understand that if Danchenko got a phone call from someone else in July 2016, but believed at the time that the call was from Millian, then his four charged statements that he believed the call was from Millian would still be entirely true — an argument I made last year and one Danchenko made in his Motion to Dismiss (Danchenko’s MTD was filed after the government motion, but submitted unsealed from the start).

[T]he indictment does not allege that Mr. Danchenko did not receive an anonymous phone call in or about late July 2016. Instead, the indictment alleges only that Mr. Danchenko “never received such a phone call or information from any person he believed to be Chamber President-1[.]” The alleged false statement is that Danchenko did not truly believe that the anonymous caller was Chamber President-1. The indictment also alleges that Mr. Danchenko “never made any arrangements to meet Chamber President-1.” However, Mr. Danchenko never stated that he made such arrangements. Rather, he told the FBI that he arranged to meet the anonymous caller, but the anonymous caller never showed up for the meeting.

But Durham believes his job is to prove that Millian never spoke with Danchenko, and so spent a third of his filing making humiliating admissions about how weak his case is.

One of the dire problems Durham has with his Millian case is that … as I predicted … he has no witness.

As I noted last year, when he originally charged Danchenko, he relied on Millian’s Twitter feed, not an interview with Millian, to substantiate Millian’s claim that he never spoke with Danchenko. Here’s how Sergei responded last year when I pointed out that his testimony, under oath, would be necessary to convict Danchenko.



Turns out I wasn’t nuts. All of the sources against Danchenko were willing to testify under oath, it appears, but Millian. Well, and Christopher Steele, too, but that’s for another post.

To Durham’s … um … credit, he did at some point (he tellingly hides the date) get Millian to participate in a “virtual interview” (which may or may not be the same as a “video interview”?). In that interview, Millian claimed that rather than fleeing the US because of the criminal investigation into him and Mueller’s interest in interviewing him, he fled the country because of the Steele dossier.

The Government has conducted a virtual interview of Millian. Based on representations from counsel, the Government believes that Millian was located in Dubai at the time of the interview. During the interview, Millian stated, in sum and substance, that he has never met with or spoken with the defendant, Millian informed investigators that he left the United States in March 2017 and he has not returned. Millian stated, in sum, that he left the United States due to threats on his and his family’s personal safety because of his alleged role in the Steele Reports. On multiple occasions, the Government has inquired about Millian’s availability to testify at the defendant’s trial. Millian has repeatedly informed the Government that he has concerns for his and his family’s safety (who reside abroad) should he testify. Millian also informed the Government that he does not trust the FBI and fears being arrested if he returns to the United States. The Government has repeatedly informed Millian that it will work to ensure his security during his time in the United States, as it does with all witnesses. The Government has also been in contact with Millian’s counsel about the possibility of his testimony at trial. Nonetheless, despite its best efforts, the Government’s attempts to secure Millian’s voluntary testimony have been unsuccessful. Moreover, counsel for Millian would not accept service of a trial subpoena and advised that he does not know Millian’s address in order to effect service abroad.

Durham was unable to subpoena Millian to require him to testify under oath to his claim that he never spoke with Danchenko, because Sergei’s lawyer doesn’t know where he lives, not even to bill him. I guess he bills him “virtually,” just like the interviews.

But don’t worry. Durham promises he has other evidence that Sergei could not have called Danchenko in July 2016.

That evidence is that Millian was traveling in Asia during the period between July 21 and July 26, 2016, when such a call to Danchenko would have taken place.

Millian was traveling in Asia at the time the defendant sent this email and did not return to New York until late on the night of July 27, 2016. Notably, Millian had suspended his cellular phone service effective July 14, 2016 (prior to his travel) and his service was reconnected effective August 8, 2016. The defendant did travel to New York from July 26, 2016 through July 28, 2016 with his young daughter and spent much of his time sight-seeing, including a trip to the Bronx Zoo on July 28, 2016. The defendant would later claim to the FBI that it was during this trip to New York that the defendant attempted to meet Sergei Millian (after having received the alleged anonymous phone call from a person he purportedly believed to be Millian). [my emphasis]

The implication, says the Special Counsel who flew to Italy to get the multiple phones of Joseph Mifsud but who never walked across DOJ to get the multiple phones of his key witness Jim Baker, is that Millian could not have called Danchenko because the only possible SIM card he would have used while traveling in Asia, which generally used the GSM standard, would be the phone he used in the US, where CDMA was still widely used.

Millian couldn’t have called Danchenko during the period, Durham says, because his US-based phone was shut down while he was traveling in Asia.

That would be a shocking claim to make about any fairly sophisticated traveler in 2016, much less one who made the effort to shut off his location tracker cell coverage while he traveled overseas and for twelve days after he returned.

It’s an especially remarkable claim to make about someone that — DOJ has proof! — was arranging in-person meetings in NYC in precisely the same period, via text messages sent during the period when Millian’s US phone service was shut down.

Papadopoulos first connected with Millian via Linkedln on July 15, 2016, shortly after Papadopoulos had attended the TAG Summit with Clovis.500 Millian, an American citizen who is a native of Belarus, introduced himself “as president of [the] New York-based Russian American Chamber of Commerce,” and claimed that through that position he had ” insider knowledge and direct access to the top hierarchy in Russian politics.”501 Papadopoulos asked Timofeev whether he had heard of Millian.502 Although Timofeev said no,503 Papadopoulos met Millian in New York City.504 The meetings took place on July 30 and August 1, 2016.505 Afterwards, Millian invited Papadopoulos to attend-and potentially speak at-two international energy conferences, including one that was to be held in Moscow in September 2016.506 Papadopoulos ultimately did not attend either conference.

500 7/15/16 Linkedln Message, Millian to Papadopoulos.

501 7 /15/16 Linkedln Message, Millian to Papadopoulos.

502 7/22/16 Facebook Message, Papadopoulos to Timofeev (7:40:23 p.m.); 7/26/16 Facebook Message, Papadopoulos to Timofeev (3:08:57 p.m.).

503 7/23/16 Facebook Message, Timofeev to Papadopoulos (4:31:37 a.m.); 7/26/16 Facebook Message, Timofeev to Papadopoulos (3:37: 16 p.m.).

504 7/16/16 Text Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (7:55:43 p.m.).

505 7/30/16 Text Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (5:38 & 6:05 p.m.); 7/31/16 Text Messages, Millian & Papadopoulos (3:48 & 4:18 p.m.); 8/ 1/16 Text Message, Millian to Papadopoulos (8:19 p.m.).

506 8/2/16 Text Messages, Millian & Papadopoulos (3 :04 & 3 :05 p.m.); 8/3/16 Facebook Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (4:07:37 a.m. & 1:11:58 p.m.).

Anyway, that’s the background to why, Durham says, the best evidence he’s got that Millian never called Danchenko are some emails.

One of those emails is inconsistent with Durham’s story, which says that Millian returned late on July 27, which was a Wednesday. On July 26, Millian sent this to one of the RIA Novosti journalists, Dimitry Zlodorev:

Dimitry, on Friday I’m returning from Asia. An email came from Igor. Who is that? What sort of person?

Durham says one of his best pieces of evidence that Millian didn’t call Danchenko is an email that had him returning two days later than he actually returned. Something led Millian to come back early, at least according to Durham’s record.

Early enough to be in NYC when Danchenko was there.

Durham also wants to introduce some emails Millian sent Zlodorev in 2020, three years after Danchenko’s alleged lie and four years into a manufactured outrage over the Steele dossier. One of those emails suggests that Millian believed Steele blamed Danchenko for problems with the dossier, which is probably true, but Durham thinks it helps him anyway.

I’ve been informed that Bogdanovsky travelled to New York with Danchenko at the end of July 2016; Danchenko, supposedly to meet with me (but the meeting didn’t take place). Can you inquire with Bogdanovsky whether he remembers something from that trip and whether they touched upon my name in conversation, as well as for what reason Danchenko was travelling to NY? Steele, it seems, made Danchenko the fall guy, but Danchenko himself made several statements that were difficult to understand, for example, about the call with me. Did he tell Bogdanovsky that he communicated with me by phone and on what topic? Thank you! This will clarify a lot for me personally. It’s a convoluted story! [my emphasis]

That’s how desperate he is for evidence to prove his four Millian charges.

Now, as Durham did when he tried to introduce totally unrelated emails in the Michael Sussmann case, Durham says he’s not introducing these (as what he calls “the most probative evidence” that Millian didn’t call Danchenko) for the truth.

He’s just asking questions — but not, apparently, why Millian said he was coming back Friday when he ended up coming back on Wednesday instead, early enough to be in NY when Danchenko was there.

As an initial matter, all three emails to Zlodorev are admissible non-hearsay because each email consists of a series of questions, i.e., (1) “Who is that? What sort of person?” (July 26, 2016), (2) “Do you remember such a person? Igor Danchenko?” (July 19, 2020), and (3) (a) “Can you inquire with Bogdanovsky whether he remembers something from that trip and whether they touched upon my name in conversation, as well as for what reason Danchenko was travelling to NY? (b) “Did he tell Bogdanovsky that he communicated with me by phone and on what topic?” (July 20, 2020). See Sinclair, F. App’x at 253. To the extent the remaining sentences in those emails are statements, they are not being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Indeed, with respect to the July 26, 2016 email, the Government is not seeking to prove that (1) Millian was returning from Asia on Friday or (2) that an email came from the defendant.

And if his just asking questions ploy doesn’t work, then he’ll raise the point that he charged this indictment without ever talking to Sergei Millian first!!!

First, the unavailability of the declarant. A declarant is “unavailable” at a hearing or trial when he “is absent from the hearing and the proponent of a statement has not been able, by process or other reasonable means, to procure the declarant’s attendance or testimony. Fed. R. Evid. 804(a)(5)(B). “Courts have consistently held that hearsay exceptions premised on the unavailability of a witness require the proponent of a statement to show a good faith, genuine, and bona fide effort to procure a witness’s attendance.” United States v. Wrenn, 170 F. Supp. 2d 604, 607 (E.D. Va. 2001) (citing Barber v. Page., 390 U.S. 719,724 (1968)). Courts considering whether a prosecutor, as the proponent of a statement, “has made such a good faith effort have focused on the reasonableness of the prosecutor’s efforts.” Id. \ Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 74 (1980) (“The lengths to which the prosecutor must go to produce a witness … is a question of reasonableness. The ultimate question is whether the witness is unavailable despite good-faith efforts undertaken prior to trial to locate and present the witness.”). In the case of a U.S. national residing in a foreign country, 28 U.S.C. § 1783 allows for the service of a subpoena on a U.S. national residing abroad. Here, the Government has made substantial and repeated efforts to secure Millian’s voluntary testimony. When those efforts failed, the Government attempted to serve a subpoena on Millian’s counsel who advised that he was not authorized to accept service on behalf of Mr. Millian. The Government, not being aware of Millian’s exact location or address, asked counsel to provide Millian’s address so that service of a subpoena could be effectuated pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1783. Counsel stated that he does not know Millian’s address. In any event, even if the Government had been able to locate Millian, it appears unlikely that Millian would comply with the subpoena and travel to the United States to testify. Indeed, as discussed above, Millian has shown a reluctance to travel to the United States for fear of his personal safety and his family’s safety. Accordingly, the Government has demonstrated good faith efforts to secure Millian’s appearance at trial.

What’s interesting is that Durham not only claims that Millian had no motive to lie to Zlodorev in 2016, but he asserts that “the existence of the Steele Reports were not public.”

The Government is not aware of any evidence that Millian was aware of who the defendant was in July of 2016. Millian also had no motive to lie about his knowledge of the defendant in July 2016. Indeed, at that time of the July 2016 email the existence of the Steele Reports were not public. Further, Millian had no apparent motive to lie to Zlodorev, an individual he appears to consider a friend.

They were to this guy.

According to the IG Report that Durham had never read before charging Sussmann, an Oleg Deripaska associate likely knew of the dossier by early July 2016, weeks after Millian met with one of the key architects of the 2016 operation in St. Petersburg and weeks before Danchenko emailed Millian and then Millian grilled Zlodorev about who Danchenko was.

Oleg Deripaska had a motive to lie about the dossier — and he appears to have been lying, to both sides.

Similarly, Durham claims that Millian had no motive to lie in 2020 when he grilled Zlodorev again about the circumstances of his meeting with Danchenko.

The July 2020 emails between Millian and Zlodorev also bear circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. Again, in July 2020, Millian had no motive to lie to Zlodorev.

Which is really nutty, because the Twitter account that Durham relied on to charge this thing claimed that — years earlier and therefore presumably well before 2020 — he had personally called the White House and told them the identities of the people behind the dossier.

He would have called from Asia or some other undisclosed location, though, so in Durham’s mind such a call would not exist.

And that’s how it came about that we’re a month away from trial, and John Durham is begging Anthony Trenga to admit emails from 2020 as his best evidence in four charges against Danchenko because he decided to rely on a Twitter account rather than securing witnesses in his case first.


For months and years, John Durham has treated Sergei Millian — a man who fled the country to avoid a counterintelligence investigation and questions from Mueller, but whom Durham claims fled the country because of the dossier — as an aggrieved victim. And in the same filing admitting that he has no solid evidence to prove that he is a victim, Durham also talked about how important it is to consider whether you’re getting played by Russian disinformation.

Such evidence is admissible because in any investigation of potential collusion between the Russian Government and a political campaign, it is appropriate and necessary for the FBI to consider whether information it receives via foreign nationals may be a product of Russian intelligence efforts or disinformation.

“SCO Durham, think of your legacy please❗❗”

Update: Replaced “in real time” based on Just Some Guy’s observations.

Earlier emptywheel coverage of the Danchenko case

The Igor Danchenko Indictment: Structure

John Durham May Have Made Igor Danchenko “Aggrieved” Under FISA

“Yes and No:” John Durham Confuses Networking with Intelligence Collection

Daisy-Chain: The FBI Appears to Have Asked Danchenko Whether Dolan Was a Source for Steele, Not Danchenko

Source 6A: John Durham’s Twitter Charges

John Durham: Destroying the Purported Victims to Save Them

John Durham’s Cut-and-Paste Failures — and Other Indices of Unreliability

Aleksej Gubarev Drops Lawsuit after DOJ Confirms Steele Dossier Report Naming Gubarev’s Company Came from His Employee

In Story Purporting to “Reckon” with Steele’s Baseless Insinuations, CNN Spreads Durham’s Unsubstantiated Insinuations

On CIPA and Sequestration: Durham’s Discovery Deadends

The Disinformation that Got Told: Michael Cohen Was, in Fact, Hiding Secret Communications with the Kremlin

John Durham’s Igor Danchenko Case May Be More Problematic than His Michael Sussmann Case

“Desperate at Best:” Igor Danchenko Starts Dismantling John Durham’s Case against Him

74 replies
  1. Just Some Guy says:

    Minor nit pick, but the use of “in real time” in these below sentences is definitely confusing. “At the time” would be far clearer, in both cases, as the question is not what kind of time the response (sentence #1) and the call (sentence #2) happened in, but rather the timeframe of the response and the call, which are both in the past.

    “Here’s how Sergei responded in real time when I pointed out that his testimony, under oath, would be necessary to convict Danchenko.”

    “But don’t worry. Durham promises he has other evidence that Sergei could not have called Danchenko in real time.”

    I read that phrase used a lot here and often it obfuscates when past actions happened, so I’m wondering about the phrase’s necessity.

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks for all of the incredible content that I find worth reading.

  2. Maureen A Donnelly says:

    also seems his Grand Jury is dismissed so does this means he got a single conviction? for alteration of an email? an acquital of Sussman and looks like one is on the way . . . too bad we can’t “sue” Barr and his friends for phucking the justice system without lubricant for Don. i want to try and understand why though–so i keep following you, listening to Allison Gill on The Daily Beans, and read a bunch of newspapers. probably explains why i sleep like crap too. thanks again for all the deep dives. i’m not a lawyer and i appreciate how you explain much of the workings of that system.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Even if Millian doesn’t have two or more phones in the US, how hard would it be to buy a burner phone – in Asia – or to borrow a colleague’s? Trump borrowed phones all the time, precisely in order to hide his communications.

    I suppose we should be relieved that Durham is so bad at his job. But I find it surprising that his patrons find him useful. Kash Patel, at least, was a conduit for information he picked up on the many jobs he was unqualified to hold.

  4. Leu2500 says:

    Bwahaha! Millian couldn’t have called Danchenko the week he, Millian, was traveling in Asia because he’d suspended his cell phone service?

    Even I, an American without a passport, know that you want a different phone/service, or at least a different sim card, when you travel in Europe. So suspending ones cell phone service doesn’t mean one has no phone service.

    One would think an international traveller like Durham (didn’t he accompany Bill Barr on his world tour to dig up dirt on Dems?) would be even more familiar with this.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Most American cellphone carriers don’t require a new phone or card for use in Europe, not on newer phones anyway. The last two times I traveled in Europe all I had to do was authorize my account’s use online for the days I was travelling — and those times were in 2018 and 2019. Can’t imagine that changed too much from 2016, but either way, Millian (or anybody, really) could just use a burner phone, as many others have pointed out in their comments.

      • emptywheel says:

        2015 to 2017 was a pretty big switch. Since then things have gotten a lot more seamless.

        But depending on where you were in Asia, you’d want a separate phone anyway.

    • Bobster33 says:

      When I was in Uganda in 2016, I could get a $130 all Africa plan for my iPhone. Once I broke my minute limit, the cost was $0.45 per minute on my iPhone. I bought a burner phone locally for $13 and was able to use it to call the US for $0.04 per minute (less than one tenth the US rate).

      I am not sure what the rates are for the rest of the world, but that burner saved me tons of money. Every once in a while I am tempted to call my burner phone to find out which of my former employees (or their family members) finally ended up with the phone.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s what I’m assuming until someone tells me different. Which would mean that Durham had still never set eyes on Millian to make sure some other GRU officer wasn’t running the account.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Given the damage that Facebook, er, Meta has done to American representative democracy in the years since, maybe Zuck’s avatar floated by!

  5. QuadrantFive says:

    Firstly, I want to thank Marcy for such enlightening and entertaining analysis of the Durham shit show. You were spot on for the bogus Sussman indictment and trial and it would be shocking if there is a different result here.

    Second, I can’t believe that Durham doesn’t know how crappy his cases have been. Even assuming that he’s a true Trumpist believer, he can’t believe that relying on a shady figure who has fled the country, with no under oath statement, is absolutely nuts. If that’s all he has he’s got to know that there’s almost zero possibility of getting a conviction. In fact, pretty good chance the judge will find there isn’t enough to convict after the prosecution’s case in chief if they don’t bring more to the table.

    • Alicia says:

      I believe the point of these things is to fuel further conspiracy theories and stir unrest. Even if the real deal were fully uncovered, Trumpies and their ilk will believe their side of the aisle got a raw deal. The fact that we uncover and utilize “real” and substantial evidence when we obtain convictions won’t matter a wit to them, because they have lost sight of what real evidence is. They say that a lie is heard around the world before the truth gets its shoes on. Ain’t THAT the truth?

      [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have more than one community members named “Alicia” or “Alice.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  6. Bay State Librul says:

    Time for Merrick to chat with John. Have Durham provide him with a quick cost/benefit analysis as to what this fucking charade has cost the DOJ
    Finally, have their PA folks prepare a press statement

  7. Jeffrey Gallup says:

    Having read the Durham filing, I am persuaded that the government has a case, even if it is on the rather trivial point of whether Danchenko believed he got a call from Millian in late July 2016. (And Danchenko seems to waver on this point.)

    Durham can’t demonstrate that Danchenko didn’t receive a call in late July from someone who gave him the information in the Steele dossier. Nor can they prove that Millian could not have made the call (as Marcy nicely shows) nor even that he didn’t make the call, unless video testimony from Millian or various e-mail and tweet testimony is admitted and accepted as true.

    But on the point of whether Danchenko THOUGHT the call (if any) was from Millian, Danchenko’s subsequent emails to Millian and his journalist friend suggest that Danchenko did not think Millian had called him, since one to the journalist says “Sergey did not respond” and the other to Millian fails to refer to the alleged call and missed meeting and sounds more like a follow-up when there has been no contact.

    Of course, Danchenko could explain that he was never sure who called him; if it was Millian, he didn’t want to spook him by referring in writing to an anonymous call; and he followed up because he wanted Millian to provide more details (what was the longtime conspiracy of cooperation ?) and go on the record.

    The 2020 Millian email to the journalist strikes me as very odd as well. After all, if Millian had been falsely accused of talking about a conspiracy of cooperation, he should be very angry and deny that he communicated with Danchenko. After all, saying the wrong thing to Danchenko or anyone else could mean a good long interrogation and perhaps a swift fatal accident in Moscow. Yet Millian says what Danchenko said about him is “difficult to understand” and asks in essence “What exactly did he have to say about me and what were the circumstances? as if he wanted to check whether some elements were true.

    Finally, have I read it correctly that Danchenko was a paid FBI informant from 2017-21? Why would the FBI hire someone previously suspected of being a Russian agent and subsequently alleged to be an inveterate liar? Seems not the best judgment, unless he turned on his Russian masters.

    • emptywheel says:

      No one REAL has accused Danchenko of being a liar. Durham has.

      And no, he doesn’t have a case. This post lays out how he failed cut-and-paste to get the indictment.


      I’ll probably write up why it made sense to pay him. Short version is that there was a ton of disinfo thrown at the dossier and FBI had to figure out by whom and why. Danchenko was the only way to get to some of that.

        • emptywheel says:

          I’m not making moral judgements. It’s a swamp, really, myself probably included.

          Danchenko has a better track record for reliability than Durham or Steele.

        • Pedro P says:

          I appreciate the swamp candor but I don’t think “reliability” and “Danchenko” should ever be in the same sentence.

          I think Danchenko just wanted to make some beer money but he had absolutely nothing to report, so he made up some wild stuff and he and Steele made up sources to help the stories, so they could both get paid.

          Kind of sad that the intl agencies, DOJ and the media let this madness go on for all those years..

        • Dmbeaster says:

          As if the “madness” was based on Danchenko or Steele. That premise if Trump’s head fake about Russian involvement. The investigation got started because Trump people knew about the stolen emails before anyone else, and before Steele had done anything.

        • Jeffrey Gallup says:

          Marcy, do you agree or not that Danchenko’s emails of August 18 to Millian and August 24 to Zlodorev suggest that Danchenko did not believe that Millian had phoned him previously? in the one case “Sergey doesn’t respond” and no reference to supposed contact in the email to Millian.

          Of course, Durham only cites the emails in part, and as we saw in the Sussman case, sometimes quotes in a misleading way. I also suggested in my post why Danchenko might not want to acknowledge the anonymous phone contact in writing.

          Still, if I were a juror, I might say it’s clear enough that not only did Millian not phone Danchenko, but that Danchenko did not believe he had. Whether in any rational universe justifies charging Danchenko in the first place is a separate question, to which my answer, as with Sussman, is no.

          All this without prejudice to the varying ways in which he described his supposed contact with Million, some of which suggested doubt or uncertainty about the origin of the call.

      • Jeffrey Gallup says:

        The FBI started interviewing Danchenko in 2017, as I recall. Did his FBI handlers suspect he was being dishonest or at least not very candid at the time? Or did Durham just come up with this years later? Durham cites several additional alleged lies told to the FBI which were not charged. Why not, especially since he wants to enter them into evidence now? My own guess is that Durham first examined bigger fish (Hillary, Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Brennan..?), and in the end found nothing and decided to go after minnows at the last minute to make at least a little splash before the statute of limitations ran out.

        The fact that the FBI kept him on as a paid informant into 2020, well into Durham’s activities, suggests his handlers did not consider him a liar, at least then.

        In stating that there is a case, I did not mean he had a good case, or one that should ever be brought, the alleged “lie” being so thin; but I consider it conceivable, especially if a lot of the other allegations in the filing are allowed in, that a thoroughly confused jury might convict.

        • John Paul Jones says:

          You seem to be trying to assert that Durham is right about Danchenko’s behaviour (he’s a liar) but wrong in some way about how he charged him. With respect, you’re missing the point. What the post is about is what was actually charged. And even if Durham is correct about Danchenko’s character, having a bad character is not a crime. Focus on what the post says, not on what you think it ought to have said.

          The other thing is this: “Marcy, do you agree or not” which is just rude, that is, trying to set simple-minded logical traps (a sort of false reduction) for the blog author in order to prolong discussion about your views.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I read the Danchenko indictment too. Your comment has me wondering if we read the same text. None of the putative content you cite (which I consider arguable, such as referring to Danchenko as a Russian agent) appears in Durham’s sorry excuse for a filing, which contains only a series of repetitions padded with language from the criminal code. I have to wonder what your stake is in this case, Jeffrey Gallup.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        I wondered the same thing, but have not had time to finish reading the filing, so did not want to comment directly. The tone and (loosely) the stile of the post reminded me a little of a poster who repeatedly commented on the Sussman trial, whose name I can’t recall right now.

      • Jeffrey Gallup says:

        On page 30 of the filing, Durham cites the earlier counterintelligence investigation of Danchenko, and states (as fact) that Danchenko had in 2008 engaged two fellow employees, saying that he had asked them whether they might provide classified information for money. It is correct that Russia was not named in this context, although classified info for money suggests a foreign power.

        Charles Dolan, the American citizen businessman and democratic activist, is cited as calling Danchenko a Russian agent (p. 32.)

        Now, we don’t know for sure whether Danchenko was a Russian (or other foreign) agent, but the FBI counterintelligence investigation should at least have put the FBI on guard when using him as a source. Or perhaps they just considered him someone without moral scruples motivated by money.

        • emptywheel says:

          Wow. Know what happens when people are put under CI investigation? The FBI investigates them very closely.

          Also you seem to get thrown by Durham’s feint that allegations that were investigated at length were facts. Why do you do that?

        • Jeffrey Gallup says:

          I did not say I agreed with Durham that the money for classified allegations against Danchenko were fact, merely that Durham interestingly reported them as fact even though they obviously were never charged or proven. Durham also sneakily implies that they were true by stating that the FBI’s investigation was cut short by the FBIs incorrect belief that Danchenko had left the country.

          I reread some of your earlier posts, and I am now persuaded that the case is fatally flawed, but not because of anything Millian said or did not say.

          Rather, Danchenko never said clearly or definitively even that he BELIEVED Millian called him. He variously said he thought so, it was probable, it was possible, he did not know. This to me is simply a consistent expression of considerable uncertainty, not to be taken as a factual statement that can be proven true or false unless Durham could prove that Danchenko never received a call from anyone regarding the information allegedly provided. (Which he can’t).

          It’s like the witness to a bank robbery saying he thought the getaway car was blue, it was probably blue, possibly blue and finally he did not know what color it was. Surely no prosecutor will charge the witness with four counts of perjury unless he can prove, say, the witness was in on the robbery with his cousin, and knew the cousin drove his own car, which was red.

          As you can see, I like to argue, but this is done with the greatest respect for the work you do. It’s just that some points may merit further exploration.

        • matt fischer says:

          Um, really?

          Marcy has frequently pointed out, including in this post, that the case rests on whether Durham can disprove squishy statements of belief: “Mind you, whether Millian ever spoke to Danchenko or not is irrelevant to whether Danchenko believed that he had.”

  8. timbo says:

    In other words, this somewhat new specious theory of Durham’s are about to have a truck driven through it by defense counsel. Durham is a shameless and obvious hack. But that wasn’t new news so he had to come up with yet another way to verify that fact…the one fact that he seems to delight in verifying at every opportunity…in court.

  9. christopher rocco says:

    With another whiff on this current prosecution, does DOJ pull the plug on Durham, or does he get another swing and a miss? What’s next for Durham’s bull?

  10. Riktol says:

    Such evidence is admissible because in any investigation of potential collusion between the Russian Government and a political campaign, it is appropriate and necessary for the FBI to consider whether information it receives via foreign nationals may be a product of Russian intelligence efforts or disinformation.

    How the actual hell can Durham get away with saying the Russia investigation was an investigation into “collusion”?

  11. rip says:

    Just over the wire: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/john-durham-probe-gave-trump-what-he-wanted/671432/

    John Durham, the U.S. attorney whom former Attorney General Bill Barr appointed to investigate the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, is reportedly near to wrapping up his work.

    The grand jury he was using to hear evidence is expiring, there’s no indication he will convene another, and members of his team are leaving, having produced a rather thin record. Since his appointment in May 2019, Durham has obtained the conviction of an FBI lawyer for what a federal judge deemed a mere “inappropriate shortcut” in a warrant application, swiftly lost a case against a lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and charged a Russia analyst in a case that has not yet gone to trial.

    From the start, the probe was a red herring. The public already knew that the FBI had investigated the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian agents, and the reasons for suspicion were not mysterious. Campaign manager Paul Manafort was notoriously tied to the Kremlin and passed information to a suspected Russian agent; members of the Trump family met with Russians at Trump Tower in an attempt to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton; one low-level aide boasted to an Australian diplomat that Russia was aiding the Trump campaign; and the longtime Trump associate Roger Stone seems to have helped broker a leak of Clinton campaign emails hacked by Russians.

  12. WilliamOckham says:

    I really didn’t think that Durham could put on a bigger shitshow than the Sussman prosecution and man was I wrong.

  13. David F. Snyder says:

    OT, but related: I recall a report from last December that the total cost of the Durham investigation at that point was about $4 million. Anybody have the total cost of this nothing-burger? I’m sure non-GOP voters would find that somewhat interesting.

  14. cdg says:

    I only came here to say that AT&T and T-Mobile were primarily GSM in the US for years. I had a GSM Ericsson phone that I could use globally, primarily in the US, in 2001. Not to mention that South Korea and Japan had significant CDMA networks. Determining that someone *couldn’t* make an international call due to network type in the year of our Lord 2016 is utterly ridiculous.

  15. BobCon says:

    OT, but I just got my latest booster today. Finding a pharmacy yesterday was a breeze and this evening they had me in and out in a hot second (not counting recommended usual post shot wait). Glad to have it done.

    • P J Evans says:

      Got mine this morning, along with flu shot. Paperwork was fast, but I’d made an appt online so they didn’t need much.

      • vvv says:

        Got mine with 84 y.o mom on Friday.

        Notably, I had lost my vax card when I got the first booster (left it bookmarking TapeOp in the grocery cart), but had a photo of the lost card showing the first two shots.

        Pharmacist looked at the photo, wrote out and gave me another card, which only lists the new booster and no other, but which shot you can’t get without the three prior shots.

        Q.E.D, I am fully credentialed again, happily so.

  16. Savage Librarian says:

    “Millian informed investigators that he left the United States in March 2017 and he has not returned.”

    So, did anyone check to see if Millian actually attended this Horasis meeting:

    Horasis-The Global Visions Community

    Horasis China Meeting 28-29th October 2019, Las Vegas, USA

    China Federation of Industrial Economics,
    Las Vegas Sands Corp.,
    US Chamber of Commerce

    29 October 2019

    Reviewing China’s Targets for Growth

    Sergey Millian, Chairman, Millian Group, USA (several other presenters were listed too)

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      He said he hadn’t returned to the US. He didn’t say anything about Las Vegas. And he didn’t bring his phone.

  17. Rapier says:

    I suppose it is coincidence that Durham is closing up shop just days after the Russian gambit in Ukraine crashed and burned. At any rate it’s fitting. MAGA’s can’t tolerate losers and right about now the Putin/MAGA bromance is set to be only slightly more popular than Jeff Dahmer. Best to close up shop, quick.

  18. Pikekone says:

    Long time reader, never a commenter. This piece moved me to break my vow never to risk being yelled at by bmaz. In 40 years of practice I have never seen such ripe and luscious cross-examination material. Thank you for this! Is there a live witness who will sponsor this nonsense and be available for questioning?

    • Jesse says:

      Echo your statement! This piece is a tour de force!

      (Sorry Rayne et al, I know I’ve used different emails and names, been a few years so I forget which I used last!)

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we now have more than a couple community members named “Jesse.” You’re using the same name you’ve used for your last 17 comments, which is great, but as time has passed we’ve had a few more folks who share the same name in our comments. Thanks for understanding. /~Rayne]

  19. Fancy Chicken says:

    Well, it’s pretty obvious to see why DeFillippis left for greener pastures in a hurry after his shit show and witness manipulation during the Sussmann trial. Whatever will Durham do without his legal savvy?

    I almost wonder if this time around we are going to see less press releases disguised as legal motions with the Danchenko case after how badly it went for Durham with Sussmann. And Danchenko seems like even weaker tea!

    Durham just needs to quietly skulk away and not draw any more attention to his self owns and fails.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. I’ve taken the liberty of reverting your username on this comment to the last one you used; I suspect you may forgotten you’d used a pseudonym. Let me know in replies here if you’d like to be “out” under what I believe is your real name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • MB says:

        Kobach is currently running for Attorney General of Kansas. This, after having been S of S in Kansas and having lost for Governor last time around, as well as his other notorieties…

        (Send your high-dollar donations to Chris Mann, his Democratic opponent)

    • Fancy Chicken says:


      Thank you so much for catching that. Wasn’t fully awake when I sent that post into the ether.

      I Remain,

      Fancy Chicken

  20. Molly Pitcher says:

    Well here is an interesting little article worth reading, from the Business Insider:

    “Former top FBI official involved in Trump-Russia investigation under scrutiny by federal prosecutors for his own ties to Russia”

    “A former high-level FBI agent who was involved in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia during the 2016 election has himself come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors for his ties with Russia and other foreign governments. ”

    “Late last year, according to internal court documents obtained by Insider, US attorneys secretly convened a grand jury that examined the conduct of Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence at the FBI field office in New York City. The Justice Department declined to comment on what the grand jury was investigating or whether it remained ongoing. But a witness subpoena obtained by Insider seems to indicate that the government, in part, was looking into McGonigal’s business dealings with a top aide to Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire Russian oligarch who was at the center of allegations that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to interfere in the 2016 election.”

    “The federal scrutiny of McGonigal is especially striking given his work at the FBI. Before his retirement in 2018, McGonigal led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning, busted Bill Clinton’s national security advisor Sandy Berger for removing classified material from a National Archives reading room, and led the search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA. In 2016, when reports surfaced that Russia had hacked the email system of the Democratic National Committee, McGonigal was serving as chief of the cybercrimes section at FBI headquarters in Washington. In that capacity, he was one of the first officials to learn that a Trump campaign official had bragged that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, sparking the investigation known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Later that year, FBI Director James Comey promoted McGonigal to oversee counterintelligence operations in New York. ”

  21. Jeffrey Gallup says:

    I have a couple of questions (still) about the motion in limine which perhaps someone in this post or elsewhere might want to address:

    1. Why did Durham not charge the various other alleged Danchenko lies he now wants to admit as evidence of in the trial for the purpose of showing Danchenko is a notorious serial liar regarding the dossier?

    2. Why does Durham only briefly discuss (and not quote) the interview of Sergei Millian? In the past Durham has been happy to discuss all kinds of information essentially irrelevant to the charge (but of course derogatory to the defendant and associates).

    3. Was the interview the subject of a 302? And if so, is there any way it could be admitted in evidence?

    4. Could/should Millian be able to testify in the trial by videoconference? (Thus eliminating any real or pretextual fear of coming to the US).

    5. What do we know about Russian Journalist-1 Bogdanovsky, and what is the significance of his alleged (per Millian) accompanying Danchenko to New York for the supposed meeting with Millian?

    6. Danchenko’s Steele dossier interviews with the FBI were (I think) all in 2017. Why was he a paid informant in 2018, 2019, and 2020?

    7. Has the defense filed any motion(s) in limine on these subjects? What’s the assessment of these lawyers’ ability?

    Appreciate any enlightenment offered.

Comments are closed.