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John Durham Avenged Warrants Targeting Carter Page by Getting a Warrant Targeting Sergei Millian

In both his opening and closing statements, John Durham prosecutor Michael Keilty described the materiality of the alleged lies Igor Danchenko told the FBI about Sergei Millian by pointing to the role the Steele report on Millian played in getting FISA warrants targeting Carter Page.

The evidence in this trial will show that the Steele dossier would cause the FBI to engage in troubling conduct that would ultimately result in the extended surveillance of the United States citizens. And the defendant’s lies played a role in that surveillance.

[snip]

So let’s now talk about why the defendant’s lies matter. The defendant’s lies about Sergei Millian mattered because the information he allegedly received from Millian ended up in a FISA warrant against a U.S. citizen, one of the most intrusive tools the FBI has at its disposal. The FBI gets to listen to your calls and read your emails. It’s a really significant thing.

You heard Brian Auten testify that that Millian information — alleged Millian information was contained in every single FISA application on four different occasions. The FBI surveilled a U.S. citizen for nearly a year based on those lies.

Even accepting the problems of the FISA warrants, the claim never made any sense.

According to the trial record, Danchenko’s information didn’t end up in FISA applications. Language Christopher Steele wrote based on Danchenko’s information did. Danchenko claimed that Steele had exaggerated it, and even after interviewing Steele twice, the FBI believed Danchenko.

Keilty was accusing Danchenko of doing something that — no one has contested — that Steele did, not Danchenko.

Plus, two of the alleged lies took place after the FBI had ceased surveilling Page, in October and November 2017. Even if Danchenko did lie, it would defy the laws of physics to blame those alleged lies for surveillance that ended in September.

Crazier still, one reason why DOJ retroactively withdrew the probable cause claims for the last two FISA orders on Page, obtained in April and June 2017, is because FBI didn’t integrate the warnings Danchenko gave them about the report in the applications. Danchenko is the last person you should blame for the FISA surveillance of Page. He claims he didn’t even know the reports were being shared with the FBI!

The obvious problems with this claim have not stopped stupid propagandists like Margot Cleveland from repeating the nonsensical claim.

It all the weirder, though, when you consider that John Durham was himself responsible for obtaining senseless search warrants against two American citizens.

First, there are the warrants Durham served to obtain Chuck Dolan’s communication, as Stuart Sears had Dolan explain on cross examination.

Q You’re aware, Mr. Dolan, aren’t you, that the government was investigating you at some point?

A Yes.

Q You’re aware that they issued search warrants and subpoenas for your email communications?

A Yes.

Q You’re aware that they issued subpoenas for your phone records?

A Yes.

Q Your work email records?

A Yes.

Q Your Facebook records?

A Yes.

As Sears had Dolan explain, those warrants yielded nothing to refute his claim never to have “talked” to Danchenko about anything that appeared in the dossier.

Q And I think you have already testified to this, but even knowing everything that the government has done to look into you, it’s still your testimony today that you’ve never talked to Mr. Danchenko about anything that ended up in the dossier, correct?

A Correct.

Last Friday, in dismissing the single count pertaining to Dolan, Judge Trenga ruled that any evidence these warrants targeting Dolan yielded did not prove a crime.

And Durham also obtained warrants targeting Sergei Millian — one of his purported victims! — who at least in 2016 had dual citizenship. Durham had his case agent, Ryan James, describe all the surveillance Durham did of Millian.

Q With respect to those documents, tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury whether you personally have been involved in sorting through those records.

A Yes, I have.

Q Travel records, the travel records relating to Sergei Millian was brought to the jury’s attention. Who obtained those records?

A Our team did.

[snip]

Q The jury has heard testimony relating to a number of telephone numbers involved with a fellow by the name of Sergei Millian. Would you tell the jury, sir, whether or not you have any knowledge about records and information being retrieved concerning Sergei Millian.

A Our team requested legal process on some of his numbers that we’ve identified that belong to him.

Q When you say legal process, just so the jurors have an understanding of that, what kind of legal process would typically be involved in getting those records?

A In this particular case, subpoenas.

Q All right. And in addition to subpoenas, do you know if Facebook records and the like were retrieved using the leal process?

A Yes.

Q And what kind of legal process was used to obtain those records?

A Those would be via search warrants.

Even more than the Facebook warrant, Durham’s collection of Millian’s travel records — all the way through current day! — are probably more intrusive on Millian’s privacy.

Q Now, let me start, if I might then. With regard to the records in this matter, you’ve told the jurors that among those records that you obtained were travel records for Sergei Millian, correct?

A Yes.

Q And with respect to Millian’s travel records, how would you describe them? Were they plentiful or there was one or two? What’s your best recollection as to Millian’s travel records?

A I would say he frequently comes in and out of this country.

Q Based on your review of all the travel records, has he been in the country anytime recently?

A No.

It’s too early to say whether any of these records included evidence of a crime. After all, DOJ’s KleptoCapture complaint against Elena Branson shows that one of Millian’s colleagues at the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce viewed the requirement to register under FARA as a “problem” way back in 2013.

But according to an EDVA jury, any evidence the warrants and subpoenas targeting Millian obtained did not prove Danchenko committed a crime.

Durham unpacked the digital lives of two American citizens, plus Danchenko, partly through search warrants that he attacked Mueller’s investigators for not obtaining.

And unless the evidence obtained ends up being used to show that Millian was an illegal foreign agent of Russia, that evidence did not provide that anyone committed a crime.

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.

John Durham’s Last Word: An Outright Lie about the Mueller Conclusions

There were aspects of Igor Danchenko attorney Stuart Sears’ closing argument yesterday that could have been stronger.

He could have more strongly emphasized that Danchenko had nothing to do with the words that appear in the dossier, and so when John Durham claims that the words in the dossier — alleging a conspiracy between Trump and Russia — are what Danchenko told the FBI he told Steele, he’s lying. Or maybe too stupid to understand that? That said, Sears did emphasize that Danchenko told the FBI the anonymous caller had said there was nothing bad about the ties between Russia and Trump.

It’s entirely possible it wasn’t Sergei Millian, but even if it was, the caller only said there was coordination between the campaign and Russia and that there was nothing bad about it. Agent Helson told you that. That’s not anti-Trump, and we do know from the government’s own evidence that Millian was at least telling people he was going to meet with Trump campaign people the week before the phone call, the anonymous phone call.

Still, this case is about reported speech, and Durham is prosecuting Danchenko for what the record shows is Christopher Steele’s speech, not for what the record shows is Danchenko’s speech.

Sears’ materiality argument could have been more forceful (though he correctly noted, jurors should never even have to get that far). Durham claims the alleged lies about Millian were material because they caused the surveillance against Carter Page; that is literally impossible for two of the alleged lies (which were told after surveillance stopped), including the October 24 alleged lie that, for the reasons I’ve laid out here, the jury may have more reason to believe Danchenko lied. And whether Danchenko told the FBI what Durham believes to be the truth — that no call with Millian happened — or Danchenko told them what he did — that the call that happened was so sketchy it shouldn’t have been relied on, and it did not include any claim of conspiracy — the decision the FBI should have taken would have been the same, to stop relying on that allegation in the FISA application. Importantly, Danchenko raised questions about the reliability of the call with no knowledge of the FISA application or the import of the conspiracy of cooperation language to the FISA application, but nevertheless told FBI everything they would need to remove the allegation from the FISA application.

And I think Sears could have hit the significance of the mobile apps harder. He did remind jurors about how Durham attempted to elicit false testimony about whether Danchenko had said this could be a mobile app.

The government set out to prove — Mr. Keilty told you in his opening statement he was going to prove Mr. Danchenko never received an anonymous call. Now, this is where — if you recall during the trial, special counsel got a little tricky here. Remember, they asked Agent Auten to refresh his recollection by reviewing a document, a report he had written, that Mr. Danchenko claimed to have received a cellular call from an anonymous caller. That was all they had him review. Just read that part, and what does it say? A cellular call, a cellular phone.

Then Mr. Onorato got up on cross-examination and literally said: Review the same report but read the rest of the sentence onto the next page.

And the full sentence that Agent Auten actually read out loud read: The call was either a cellular phone, or it was a communication through a phone app.

It was a good try, but it didn’t work. And it was a try because they know they have no evidence at all from which you could conclude there was not a call through a messaging app. They don’t have it. It’s their burden. They don’t have it. He doesn’t have to prove he received a call on a messaging app. They have to prove he didn’t.

Sears had more evidence here, though. There was the evidence that Millian was communicating via mobile apps using his iPad in the period he was in South Korea (though Durham worked hard to withhold it from the jury), and because he was overseas, Millian would be far more likely to use mobile apps than telephony. It might have been useful to explain why Ryan James’ effort to rule out a mobile app call by looking at only telephony calls didn’t even attempt steps that could have clarified the issue. The steps Durham’s hand-picked FBI agent failed to take prove, definitively, that Durham never attempted to fill what Sears called “a giant hole” in Durham’s case.

And if they have not convinced you beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not receive an anonymous call through a phone app, that’s the end of the case. They had to prove that.

They told you they would, but did they? Are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, as you sit here today, that Millian or perhaps someone else didn’t reach out to him anonymously over a messaging app in July 2016? What evidence do you have to make that conclusion? What evidence do you have to make that conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt? There’s none. It’s a giant hole in the case, and they can’t fill it with conjecture, speculation, and argument. Where is the evidence?

All that said, Sears laid out all the other compelling proof against Durham: that Durham’s own witnesses, Brian Auten and Kevin Helson, said Danchenko didn’t lie, and that all the details that Durham collected believing they would disprove Danchenko’s story in fact corroborated the claims Danchenko had made about the call and aftermath.

We’ll learn soon enough what the jury thinks about it. They deliberated for about three and a half hours yesterday and will resume deliberations at 9:30 this morning.

I’d like to address the underlying dynamic about the closing arguments, though.

Michael Keilty, the least corrupt member of the Durham team, had the initial close, which often is the longer of prosecutors’ two presentations, the one in which prosecutors explain to the jury which the most important pieces of evidence are and where to find them. At least by transcript pages, that wasn’t the case here: Keilty’s close spanned 21 pages, whereas Durham’s rebuttal spanned 22. Still, that’s totally within the norm, and how the prosecution splits their time is their own decision.

But that time differential is not what Judge Anthony Trenga expected. Even before Durham started, he remarked on how short Keilty’s close was and asked Durham in a bench conference how long he expected to take.

THE COURT: I thought the government’s closing was going to be a lot longer than it was. How long were you intending for rebuttal?

MR. DURHAM: I would say half an hour, 40 minutes.

THE COURT: Well, I’ll give you half an hour. All right.

MR. DURHAM: Yes, Your Honor.

I think Trenga suspected — as did I after Keilty’s close — that the entire plan from the start was to sandbag Danchenko’s team, effectively present the bulk of the close after Sears could no longer respond (this is what Durham did with Special Agent Kevin Helson’s testimony, raising the most damning testimony of the trial for the first time in a second redirect).

Sears anticipated that would happen. Based on all the times Durham pointed to evidence he didn’t have because he himself didn’t bother to try to collect it, Sears warned the jury about the Special Prosecutor’s efforts to shift the burden on Danchenko, repeatedly demanding that Danchenko affirmatively prove his claims, rather than just disprove Durham’s.

So now is the part where I have to sit down in a minute, and it’s the hardest part of the case for a defense attorney because they get the last word. And so we just have to sit there and listen and think about the things we meant to say when we were up here and forgot or the things that we think they’re getting wrong and that we feel like we can correct, like I was just able to do now, and we can’t.

And it’s particularly concerning in this case and difficult in this case because the burden shifting I heard in the government’s closing about where is the evidence that Mr. Danchenko did this or did that. He didn’t have any burden. You’re not going to see an instruction back there that says he has a burden to do anything. It’s the government’s burden to prove their case. It’s not his burden to disprove it.

The special counsel at times through its questions and arguments, they’ve not given you the full picture. They haven’t told you the whole story. Just like when they were showing the agents and had the agents testifying, well, if you knew this or if you knew that, what would you think? Oh, yeah, that would affect my views of that, or I would think that was important. They only showed them the stuff that they think helped their case.

[snip]

So I’m worried more so than usual when I go back to sit down about what you’re going to hear now and what I can’t respond to. And while I can’t do that, you can. You can pay attention to what’s said now, and you can discover those inaccuracies or misstatements, if there are any, when you go back to deliberate and consider the actual evidence in this case.

Before he did this, though, Sears talked about how Bill Barr started this investigation, burned Danchenko as a source, and how as part of the investigation Barr set up, Durham has not investigated what happened, but instead set out to prove guilt.

Agent Helson also told you that Mr. Danchenko’s information was vital to national security and led to the opening of more than two dozen active influence cases. He became a trusted source of information for our government that even led to the creation of a new team at the FBI as a result of the information he provided, the guy they are saying is a liar.

But as you’ve also heard at trial, the political winds in this country changed once then-President Trump appointed a new attorney general, William Barr. Barr not only essentially revealed Mr. Danchenko’s identity by releasing a redacted version of his January 2017 interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that committee released that report within an hour of receiving it to the public.

Attorney General Barr also ordered an investigation into the investigation of the Trump campaign and its connections to Russia. So a new special counsel was appointed, this special counsel, to lead that investigation.

I submit to you that if this trial has proven anything, it’s that the special counsel’s investigation was focused on proving crimes at any cost as opposed to investigating whether any occurred.

I submit to you that a fair and reasonable look at the evidence in this case shows that the special counsel — they started out with the presumption of guilt, that Mr. Danchenko had lied, and they read guilt into every piece of evidence they came across and at every detail they saw. They ignored — and we’re going to show you. They ignored how their own evidence showed he was not guilty, that he was innocent.

This narrative is all true. Even within the trial, there was abundant evidence presented that Durham sought out to find someone to charge, not to find out what happened (neither of which is an appropriate use of prosecutorial resources, absent evidence of a crime).

For any critique I have about things Sears could have done tactically, the strategic decision to make Durham defend his own investigation clearly had an effect. I think Sear’s comments got to Durham, and made him defensive.

In his close, in the middle of spending much of his close focusing on a single 2020 LinkedIn message in which Danchenko admitted he was the source for 80% of the raw intelligence in the dossier, John Durham took the time to rebut the accusation about Bill Barr deliberately exposing Danchenko by blaming Danchenko for speaking to the press.

But what do you also know about that? And don’t forget what the evidence is. Mr. Sears wants to put this on Bill Barr. He wants to put it on politicians or whatever. You heard testimony from Mr. Helson that Mr. Danchenko himself, when he was interviewed by the press — all right. I think it was couched in the terms of your recollection controls, of course, but I think it’s couched in terms of, well, he had to do what he had to do to protect himself. He went and talked to the press.

And then later in his close, he returned to it again, not presenting the proof that Sears said was absent, but instead defending Bill Barr.

That’s when Durham decided to explain to the jury what he believes the results of the Mueller investigation were.

Now, I think that counsel’s suggestion is, oh, it’s Bill Barr. Bill Barr did this for political reasons. But reflect on how this came about. The Mueller report had come out, and there’s no collusion that was established. It’s not an illogical question to ask, well, then how did this all get started? Now, you can call that political. You can suggest, I guess, inferentially that somehow people who have spent a considerable period of time away from their families and whatnot did this for political reasons or what have you. If that’s your mind-set, I suppose that’s your mind-set.

But to look into the question of how did this all happen — Director Mueller, a patriotic American, the former director of the FBI, concludes there’s no evidence of collusion here or conspiracy. Is it the wrong question to ask, well, then how did this get started? Respectfully, that’s not the case. [my emphasis]

That’s the first time when Judge Trenga interrupted and told Durham to wrap it up.

THE COURT: You should finish up, Mr. Durham.

MR. DURHAM: Yes, Your Honor.

Only after Trenga told him to stop and only after defending Billy Barr twice did Durham turn to the crucial issue before him, attempting to disprove a mobile app call.

You know that the defendant didn’t receive an anonymous call here on an app from Millian or anyone else for at least three reasons:

First, there’s absolutely no evidence in the record of such a call, none.

Second, the statements the defendant made to the FBI are not in any way consistent with how someone would describe an anonymous call. They’re consistent with how somebody would describe a call that they made up.

Even though Danchenko was a trained business intelligence analyst whose entire task from orders from Christopher Steele was to find evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians — if he had received an anonymous call, whether he thought it was Millian or it was somebody else, that would be the very evidence of collusion that he was looking for so eagerly. As a trained researcher, he clearly would have noted every detail possible: What’s the incoming call number? What’s the area code number? What other details are there? What do you know about the person’s speech pattern? None of that information is recorded or provided. It’s simply an anonymous caller.

He would have known to remember the cell phone application if it was a cell phone application that was involved. Look, that’s what a good research analyst does, looks into the details, records those details, and reports on those details. Mr. Danchenko did none of that. He didn’t provide any of that information to Steele, and he didn’t provide any of that information to the FBI.

Third, the most conclusive evidence that such a call never occurred, if you look at Government’s Exhibit 207T, the defendant’s August 18 email to Mr. Millian where the defendant states in his own words — I mean, he can’t get away from his own words. His words state that he wrote to Millian several weeks earlier and that they were contacts on LinkedIn but says nothing about the call that he told the FBI he thought was probably Millian. What possible reason could explain why the defendant wouldn’t at least ask Millian if he had called?

Because he had spent his time doing other things, including defending Bill Barr twice, in the middle of walking the jury through what Durham believes is his smoking gun evidence, he made a bid for more time.

I want you to look at Government’s Exhibit 115T, the August 24 email — Can I have five more minutes, Your Honor?

THE COURT: One minute.

MR. DURHAM: One minute.

The point being, I think (and Trenga may have thought) that Durham attempted to sandbag Danchenko, delaying the entirety of his substantive close until after Sears had finished.

And indeed, Durham’s presentation of what they believe is their smoking gun evidence didn’t come until Durham’s own close, not Keilty’s.

An attempted sandbag.

Though it only came after Durham spent his time trying to defend Barr’s actions, not just in exposing an FBI source, but in launching this investigation in the first place.

Which is why it 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). But even ignoring the then-ongoing investigation into whether Roger Stone conspired to hack with Russia, Mueller explicitly stated that, “A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts” — such as the finding that, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities” — “does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”

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.

All the more so given that (as Onorato had already established), three of the first four subjects of the investigation were convicted, and five of those convicted — Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone — were either convicted or (in the case of Manafort) found by a judge to have lied to cover up their interactions with agents of Russia in 2016.

Indeed, Brittain Shaw even explicitly used the standard on which the FBI first opened the investigation — to figure out whether claims like the ones George Papadopoulos made to Australia were true or not — in her attempt to prove the materiality of the literally true alleged lie Durham prosecuted Danchenko for.

With respect to knowing whether someone passed false information that contained allegations — not the Lewandowski part but somebody made up that they were an insider or had inside information, in the course of looking at Russian interference, as you did in the Special Counsel’s investigation, would that have been important to you?

In their bid to win this case, Durham and his prosecutors have argued not only that one can investigate whether someone is telling the truth when he claims to have inside access to Trump (as evidence in this trial showed Millian was doing), much less to Russia, as Papadopoulos was doing. Indeed, in his attacks on the FBI, Durham claimed one would be negligent not to investigate such things. Durham even argued that Mueller didn’t investigate Sergei Millian thoroughly enough.

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.

Update: Changed how long the jury has deliberated to include their lunch.

John Durham’s Missing Signals (and FaceTime and WhatsApp and iPad)

As is common, the case agent for 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.

As Durham cued James to describe, he spent the first nine years of his career as an FBI employee in New Haven, where Durham was, first an AUSA and then US Attorney.

Q When you finished up at the Quantico Training Academy, you would then be a first office agent as it’s sometimes referred to?

A Yes.

Q And what’s a first office agent?

A So that’s the term that you get when you graduate the academy, and it’s the first office you’re assigned to.

Q And where were you first assigned?

A New Haven, Connecticut.

Q And how long were you in New Haven, Connecticut?

A So I was there from late ’09 to September of 2018.

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 Danchenko got a call from an anonymous caller, probably around July 24 or 25, 2016, someone Danchenko claimed to believe was Sergei Millian. This is the burden Durham chose to take on when he charged Danchenko with four counts — the four remaining after Judge 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.

Here are those four counts as quoted in transcripts or interview reports from the indictment, and how Durham charged the alleged lie.

Durham is not proving that Danchenko lied that the person on the call was Millian. He has to prove that Danchenko lied about what he believed in about the call in 2016, five years after the interviews in question and six after the call.

At times, even Durham seems not to have understood what he got himself into by charging that Danchenko lied when he said he believed in 2016 that he thought that a call he described to the FBI came from Millian. Durham can’t just prove that Millian didn’t call Danchenko (though he has presented insufficient evidence to prove that). To rule out the possibility that Danchenko really believed a call even he described as weird came from Millian, Durham is stuck — with one exception I’ll lay out below — attempting to prove that Danchenko received no call from anyone, whether Millian or anyone else.

In an attempt to do that on Friday, Durham had James walk through how his team obtained all the records possible for the phone numbers they identified for Millian at the time (at least one, a Russian one, seems not to have been included, though exhibits aren’t available remotely).

Q And as to telephone records, would you indicate to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what telephone records — specific telephone records that you obtained relating to Mr. Millian.

A We obtained all the records possible for the phone numbers that we had identified for Mr. Millian.

Durham had Ryan describe what sounds like a time-consuming effort to track down every single telephony call that called Danchenko’s known line in that time period in late July early August 2016.

Q Now, you told the jurors that among other things that were subpoenaed were three telephone lines that were active in 2016 for Millian, correct?

A Yes.

Q But I think you also told them that you had looked for any other number that may have been in FBI databases that would tie in some fashion to Millian, correct?

A Yes.

Q And did you compare all of those numbers to any calls going into Mr. Danchenko’s telephone number?

A Yes.

Q And the jury saw a particular record that will be in evidence reflecting the fact that Millian was providing his new Moscow number. Do you remember that? It was a plus-45 telephone number?

A Yes.

Q Did you also check that number against any incoming calls to Mr. Danchenko’s telephone line?

A Yes.

Q And what can you tell the jurors about that?

A We didn’t identify any known numbers for Sergei Millian making an incoming call to Mr. Danchenko.

They made a great show of bragging about getting records from Sergei Millian and Danchenko that (they suggested) the NY Field Office and Mueller team before them had not.

Q To your knowledge, had anybody gotten those before?

A No.

[snip]

Q Do you know if prior to you and your colleagues retrieving that information, if anybody had gone and retrieved it? Do you know?

A I do know. No, they didn’t.

But in the entire performance, neither Durham nor James described the records that would be most probative to determine if Millian called Danchenko in late July 2016: Details of LinkedIn contacts between Danchenko and Millian (probably as early as May or June) and what Danchenko’s LinkedIn page looked like when that happened. That presumed LinkedIn contact was not mentioned at all during James’ testimony.

Durham’s entire premise — that a review of incoming telephony calls to Danchenko could serve to rule out a call from Millian — is based off a claim that Millian would have no way of contacting Danchenko on anything but his telephony line, because that’s all the information Danchenko included in the signature block of the email he sent on July 21, asking to meet. Mind you, even on direct examination, when Durham had Brian Auten agree there was no mention of mobile apps in the signature block, Auten noted there was a mention of a mobile app in the body of the message: to LinkedIn.

Q And then there’s a signature block, correct?

A Correct.

[snip]

Q Is there anything anywhere in this document, Government’s Exhibit 204T, Mr. Danchenko’s initial outreach to Millian, that says anything about the use of apps?

A In the signature block, no. And the only app I believe that’s mentioned is LinkedIn, which is the last line of 204T in the letter.

Q And LinkedIn isn’t communication — verbal communication, correct?

A Not to my knowledge, no.

Q Right. So nothing in here about contact me using an app or anything of that sort?

A According to the block, no.

Durham wasn’t interested because LinkedIn, itself, does not support voice calls.

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

Q. Okay. And that would be the email that Mr. Durham showed you July 21st, and that, kind of, starts off with the strange phone call, right? So the timeline is late May, right, where there’s an introduction?

A. Right.

Q. Which is Mr. Danchenko told you?

A. Yes.

Q. And then, he said in, kind of, late June or late July he reached out to Millian, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And so this is reach out, right?

A. This is — this is a July 21st —

Q. Yep.

A. — 2016, Igor Danchenko to [email protected]

Q. Okay. And what I want you to focus on, right, is that he said [As read:] “It would be interesting if it were possible to chat with you by phone or meet for coffee/beer in Washington or New York where I’ll be next week.” Right?

A. Right.

Q. “I am, myself, in Washington.” So he’s giving him alternatives as to where the meeting could take place, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. I want you to focus on the last line of the email, please.

A. Yes.

Q. He said [As read:] “I sent you a request to LinkedIn. There my work is clearer.” Right?

A. Correct.

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 account.

At the time , before he started being stalked by frothers, Danchenko used at least four more mobile apps: in addition to the Telegram he still uses, WhatsApp, Viber, FaceTime, and Wickr.

Q. Okay. Thank you. Are you aware that when Mr. Danchenko spoke to the FBI he told them that he used, in this timeframe, WhatsApp, Viper, [sic] FaceTime, Wickr, and Telegram?

A. I think it would depend on what time frame you are talking about talking to the FBI.

Q. Sure. But between, let’s say, January, when you met with him, and call it July, after he’s meeting with Mr. Helson.

A. I don’t know if I would be able to rattle off all of those different things.

Q. Sure. Some of them?

A. Some of them.

Q. Okay. And, again, those apps — whether it’s one, two, three, four, or five of them — do not leave records on my Verizon cell phone bill, right?

A. I do not believe so.

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.

Short of having the cell phone Danchenko was using all the time and the devices used with the at-least four SIM cards Millian was using at the time, Durham couldn’t even begin to rule out such a call. That’s how mobile apps work, and that’s why people making spooky anonymous phone calls prefer to use apps.

Absent having the devices themselves, the FBI routinely uses Apple and Google store records to show what apps someone has downloaded onto their various phones. That’s how I know precisely when Roger Stone added ProtonMail, Signal, and WhatsApp to his phone in August, October, and (on the new phone he got after the election) November 2016: from app store records used in FBI affidavits. To make a show of figuring out what apps, besides LinkedIn, Danchenko and Millian used in common, James could have obtained records from the app stores. He didn’t describe doing that either.

But the details of the LinkedIn communications between Danchenko and Millian might have either explained or ruled out the most obvious explanation for how Millian would have known to call Danchenko on a mobile app: That Millian referred to Danchenko’s LinkedIn account, which we know he used because he used it himself to approach Papadoploulos.

When Danchenko’s lawyers lay all this out Monday, Durham will point to the single Danchenko LinkedIn communication he did introduce — a 2020 LinkedIn message confirming that he was the source for 80% of the raw intelligence in the Steele dossier.

BY MR. DURHAM: Q. Sir, with respect, then, to the Government’s Exhibit 1502, that’s a LinkedIn message, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Now, the date of the Government’s Exhibit 1502, you indicated was, again, what?

A. It was October 11, 2020.

It’s unclear to me whether the LinkedIn messages that Durham obtained include the one(s) Danchenko sent Millian in 2016. He said he had deleted a bunch of records, including those pertaining to Millian, before first meeting with the FBI in 2017.

During cross-examination, Kevin Helson revealed that FBI themselves twice advised Danchenko to purge his phone to protect against compromise, including once after Bill Barr released his January 2017 interview materials.

Q. Okay. And, in fact, Agent Helson, once Mr. Danchenko became a confidential human source, and for good reason, you told him that he should scrub his phone, correct?

A. Yeah, at the beginning, there were two times that we had discussed that action was at the beginning to kind of mask and obfuscate his connection to Steele and any connection to us. And then after the three-day interview became public, we readdressed that as well as we assumed he would be most likely targeted from — by cyber means by the Russians.

Q. So to the extent it’s possible there were any communications that were left on his phone from the period when he was doing the reporting that later ended up being the dossier, they were likely erased?

A. Yeah, depending on how he did it.

When Danchenko submitted his objections to Durham’s exhibits on September 15, Durham had not yet identified that he planned to pull out only that October 2020 one.

The government has not identified which LinkedIn messages it seeks to introduce and Mr. Danchenko objects to admission of any messages not sent by Mr. Danchenko and objects to the inclusion of any messages not specifically admitted as evidence.

That would have been the period Durham was working on his strategy in the wake of Sergei Millian’s refusal to show up to testify under oath to any of this, the strategy preformed Friday to deny a call of any kind by reviewing only telephony calls,

The transcript reflects that only Exhibit 1502 — the October 2020 LinkedIn message — was introduced as evidence. But the stipulation mentions Exhibit 1500.

MR. DURHAM: Okay. This is in the matter of United States versus Igor Y. Danchenko, Criminal No. 1:21-cr-245, parenthesis, (AJT), close parenthesis. [As read]: It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the undersigned parties that, if called to testify, a records custodian from LinkedIn would testify as follows: Paragraph No. 1, Government’s Exhibits 1500 and 1502 are true and accurate copies of the contents of the LinkedIn account “Igor Danchenko” controlled by Igor Danchenko. Paragraph No. 2, Government’s Exhibits 1500 and 1502 are true and accurate copies of authentic business records of LinkedIn that were made at or near the time of the acts and events recorded in them by a person with knowledge and were prepared and kept in the course of LinkedIn’s regularly conducted business activity. And it was the regular practice of LinkedIn to make such business records, and the source of the information or the method and the circumstances of preparation are trustworthy. The parties stipulate to the authenticity of Government’s Exhibits 1500 and 1502.

All of Danchenko’s LinkedIn records that still existed in 2020 could have been available at trial, but just the October 2020 one was introduced.

There was, however, one LinkedIn message from 2016 introduced. In cross-examination of Auten, Onorato introduced the LinkedIn request that Millian sent to George Papadopoulos just days before Danchenko initially reached out to Millian on July 21.

Q. First of all, does it appear to be a LinkedIn message between George Papadopoulos and Mr. Millian?

A. Yes, it does.

Q. And the date of that is July 15th of 2016, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And just — it appears to be an email that LinkedIn is sending to Mr. Millian, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And I’m just going to direct your attention to a specific portion of the second page. Okay?

A. Yes.

MR. ONORATO: And, Your Honor, I’m not going to talk about the —

THE COURT: All right.

BY MR. ONORATO: Q. Okay. Millian writes to George — do you see where it says, “To George”?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. So that’s Millian sending a comment to Mr. Papadopoulos, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And I want to direct your attention to the bottom of the highlighted portion where it says, “Please do not hesitate to contact me at (212) 844-9455.”

A. I see that, yes.

Q. Okay. And do you see in the last line it says, “Sent from LinkedIn for iPad”? Okay?

A. Yes, I see that.

Q. Okay. And so in this timeframe Mr. Millian is saying on the 15th that Mr. Papadopoulos can call him at that phone number that we discussed, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And so do you know that the 212 area code is from New York?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And that’s where Mr. Millian lived, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And you also sent an iPad — a message from an iPad, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And, again, that’s a device that you can FaceTime people from that we all know, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And the one that doesn’t leave a record or footprint on a device, right? A. In terms of a record on a device.

Q. I mean a — with a cell phone carrier, like Verizon or Sprint or AT&T. A. Correct.

[snip]

Q. And so remember before when I introduced an email from Mr. Papadopoulos to Mr. Millian?

A. Yes.

Q. That came in the form of an email, didn’t it?

A. Yes, it did.

Q. And so this is, you know, him saying that I sent you a previous email, the LinkedIn email. And then I’m sending you an email on July 21st, correct?

A. I think it’s sending a request on LinkedIn.

Q. Right.

A. So I think that might be a little different than an actual email, but it’s a request.

Q. But when you get a request, it comes via email, right?

A. Yes, that does.

Millian was already in South Korea on July 15. Onorato made much of the fact, with Auten, that Durham hadn’t introduced these records. While Durham will point to the voicemail reference (which doesn’t help him as much as he thinks it does), the LinkedIn request will show that Millian wasn’t using the phone that Durham made a big deal out of being turned off. He was using an iPad.

And that detail will make the inadequacy of James’ search evident. When Durham got James to explain that he had pulled the records that would show up in a toll records report from the 917 phone number tied to Millian’s iPad. Durham almost seemed to concede you would get no phone records for telephony calls tied to an iPad.

Q You said there was a 917 area code, correct?

A Correct.

Q What were you able to determine as to that telephone number?

A It appeared that that number was assigned to an iPad.

Q Okay. And did you look at whatever records were available by way of subpoena or search warrant there?

A Yes.

James’ summary of Millian’s contacts is not online. But the LinkedIn contact with Papadopoulos would not show up on the call records Durham pulled. Its absence on James’ exhibit will serve as proof that Millian was communicating during the period for which James conducted a review in ways that would never show up in telephony records.

Danchenko’s team may have more to disprove Durham’s telephony distraction. Onorato seemed to want to say more about all this. After Durham finished questioning James on direct, Danny Onorato responded to Judge Trenga’s question about how long cross would take by hinting that he wanted to ask James questions, but he would have to convince Stuart Sears to do so first over lunch.

THE COURT: How long do you think you’ll be, Mr. Onorato?

MR. ONORATO: So Mr. Sears is going to —

THE COURT: Mr. Sears, how long do you think you’ll be? (Reporter clarification.)

MR. ONORATO: There may be no questions unless I talk him into questions.

When I read this in the transcript, I was thinking of all the questions I would want asked: about the coercion of witness testimony by threatening them with indictment, about James’ insinuation that having telephony records is more comprehensive than having actual devices — which is what Mueller’s team used to understand some of Millian’s contacts at the time. I would have asked James to describe how Durham never bothered to interview George Papadopoulos, either before Durham and Bill Barr went on a junket to Europe based off Papadopoulos’ claims, or in the wake of learning that Sergei Millian had handed him his ass.

I would have asked how he could competently claim to have ruled out a call with Danchenko without at least reviewing those LinkedIn exchanges.

But Sears convinced Onorato to holster whatever surprises they have. After lunch, Stuart Sears revealed that Onorato hadn’t talked him into questions of James at all.

THE COURT: Please be seated. Mr. Sears, any cross?

MR. SEARS: It’s a little anti-climatic, Your Honor, but I have no questions for this witness.

Rather than point out the gaping problems with James’ claimed proof that Millian didn’t call Danchenko, rather than giving Durham a chance to add to the record, they let it rest.

Damnit!

But particularly given their sustained effort to show that Durham has been withholding comms far more than Danchenko has, I expect James’ silence about LinkedIn records to be central.

So will Durham’s effort to get Auten to testify inaccurately to suggest that Danchenko had said the call from someone he believed to be Millian could only have been a telephony call.

Q. Okay. But I do want to try to correct something about what you testified about this morning. Okay?

A. Okay.

Q. And you prepared to testify with Mr. Durham and his team, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And I think he asked you to look at Government Exhibit 100.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And when he asked you to look at Government one- — Exhibit 100, I think you may have answered that he did not mention a call app on Page 20, right, in response to his questions?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Well, do me a favor. Look at Page 20 and then 21, And see if that refreshes your memory the first day about what Mr. Danchenko told you.

A. I apologize. Yes, it basically says — would you like me to read it?

Q. Yeah.

A. Okay. I’ll start at the middle of — middle of the last paragraph of Page 20. [As read:] “The two of them talked for a bit and the two of them tentatively agreed to meet in person in New York City at the end of July. At the end of July, Danchenko traveled with his daughter to New York but the meeting never took place and no one ever called Danchenko back. Altogether, he had only a single phone call with an individual he thought to be Millian. The call was either a cellular call or it was a communication through a phone app.”

Q. I’m sorry, what did you just say?

A. “Or it was a communication through a phone app.”

Q. Okay. So remember when Mr. Durham asked you questions this morning, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he omit — ask you to look at page 21 to see what Mr. Danchenko told you that day?

A. I don’t think he was omitting. I think I —

Q. Okay. And did you intentionally omit, intentionally tell the jury something wrong, right?

A. No.

Q. But the import of the testimony was that, no, he never mentioned in that first meeting it could have been a phone app, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And now we all know that that’s false, right?

A. Correct.

Q. So he did mention a mobile app?

A. That is correct.

Onorato then introduced Auten’s notes from the interview where he underlined “app.”

Q. Okay. And just for the record, again, we’re at — they’re not page-numbered, but it’s Defense Exhibit 497, and it’s Bates-stamped SCO350067270. Okay? And those appear to be — but I don’t want you to just agree with me — the interview notes from your first conversation with Mr. Danchenko. So that’s on July 24th — or January 24th. I keep saying July.

A. Yeah.

Q. Okay. I want you to look at the middle of the page.

A. Yes.

Q. And he said to you, which you wrote down at the same time and it looks like you underlined it, “Either cell phone or an app,” with an underscore, right?

A. That is correct.

Q. Those are your handwritings, right?

A. That is my handwriting, yes.

Q. And when he wrote “app,” the instant is that it’s probably an app because you’re emphasizing “app,” right?

A. I don’t necessarily know if I was emphasizing, but I did draw a line under it, yes.

Q. And you would agree that when you draw a line under something that’s generally — one of the reasons you do it is you want to emphasize —

A. It can be one of the reasons, yes.

Onorato repeated the point: Durham had introduced affirmatively false testimony about whether that call, hypothetically from Millian, may have been on a phone app.

Q. All right. And just to show the jury what you were looking at, right? A. Right. Q. So, again, despite the testimony this morning, that Mr. Danchenko did not mention a phone app, just to highlight it for you, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And so that’s the correct testimony, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And whether it was Mr. Durham’s question or whether it was your misunderstanding, you did not intentionally leave the jury with the impression, right?

A. Correct.

Q. That he didn’t say that on the first day, right?

A. Correct.

Q. But you would think as lawyers in the case that we should know the general state of the evidence?

A. Correct.

Q. And could correct that for you, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And Mr. Durham didn’t take any steps to correct your wrong answer, did he?

A. I don’t recall him correcting that.

Q. Okay. But now, I’m correcting it, right?

A. You are correcting it.

To be fair to Durham, for Onorato’s complaints here that Durham misrepresented the evidence, on several occasions, Danchenko’s lawyers have suggested that Danchenko said the call was on a mobile app, rather than it could have been. But unlike Durham and his team, Danchenko’s lawyers didn’t repeatedly elicit false testimony about what transcripts said.

None of that will be the most central part of Danchenko’s closing argument tomorrow. What will come before debunking Durham’s claim that such a call could not have taken place and showing how Durham tried to exclude records corroborating that such a call did take place is the testimony from both men who interviewed Danchenko, saying they believe him.

With Brian Auten there was some equivocation (during which Danny Onorato raised the fact that Durham had made him a subject of the investigation during the period any doubts creeped in), but ultimately he said he still does not doubt that Danchenko believed the call came from Millian, the only thing at issue in the remaining four counts.

Q. And so when you made that statement under oath before the Senate, you didn’t think he was lying to you that he had contact with Mr. Millian, right, or believed — not that he did, that he believed? A. I — I have no reason to doubt that he believed he was talking to Mr. Millian based upon what he told us in the interview. Q. Okay. I’m sorry. Once more, can you please repeat that to the jury? A. I don’t have any basis to — at the time to believe that —

[snip]

Q. So do you remember being — do you remember giving the following answer: [As read:] “On the whole, you did not see any reason to doubt the information the primary sub-source provided about who he received information from, which was the supervisory intel’s analyst focus.” Right?

A. Yes. That is from my — that’s from my OIG testimony.

Q. Right. But you said it under oath, subject to penalty of perjury?

A. Correct.

Q. And it’s true?

A. Correct.

Q. And it’s true today?

A. Correct.

Stuart Sears walked Helson first through his general opinion that Danchenko never lied to him.

Q. Agent Helson, it was no — it was no secret, during the course of your relationship with Mr. Danchenko, that there was a discrepancy between how Mr. Steele described how Mr. Danchenko represented his interactions with Mr. Millian and how Mr. Danchenko told you he actually explained his interactions?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. It was no — it was no secret. Everyone knew all along that there was a disconnect there?

A. Correct.

Q. And at no point during your entire time of meeting with Mr. Danchenko over those three years, did you ever walk away thinking that he was lying to you about anything; is that fair?

A. That’s fair.

Q. In fact, for years after your conversations with Mr. Danchenko about his anonymous phone call with the person he believed to be Mr. Millian, you would submit reports indicating that he was a reliable source?

A. Correct.

Q. And some of those reports would even mention the Millian discrepancy and you would write that you believed that Mr. Danchenko had accurately reported the information as best you could recall?

Sears then had Helson describe how, in reports in 2019 and 2020, he had dismissed the import of any inconsistencies in the Millian reporting.

Q. And this report even addresses the inconsistency regarding the Millian issue?

A. Correct.

Q. Correct? And this report that you generated says that Mr. Danchenko’s position or story on the Millian situation never changed while the motivation of others came into question, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And that’s Chris Steele?

A. That is true.

The most important testimony from Helson, though, addresses the one exception I noted above. As I noted in this post and this table above, Danchenko’s story about the Millian call, in the four charged conversations and the one with Auten, deviated from form on one occasion: on October 24, 2017.

That October 24 conversation came during the period when Auten was trying to address the discrepancies between Steele’s claims of the Millian conversations and Danchenko’s (though the FBI didn’t tell Danchenko they were interviewing Steele — they were basically playing the men off each other).

I fully expect that Durham, in an attempt to salvage at least one guilty verdict, will focus on the October 24 case and claim that the deviation from prior testimony — at a time when Danchneko was trying to fix immigration issues — was the tell that he lied.

Who knows? It might work! If he can convince the jury that the October 24 deviation was a tell that he was lying, maybe he can convince the jury that Danchenko invented the lie that he believed he had actually talked to Millian to cover up inventing a story for Durham.

That’s what he’s left with.

Which is why Helson’s note, on the back of his interview notes from that conversation, will be critically important. Explaining that he pushed Danchenko really hard on this point (this is one of the interviews for which there’s no recording and less reliable documentation), he wrote that he believed Danchenko’s response — including the inconsistent reference to two calls — was what you’d expect from particularly confrontational questioning.

Q. Okay. And you wrote — and you can close that now. And you wrote — going back to Government Exhibit 102, which was your memorandum of the interview of Mr. Danchenko — you wrote in addition to that he didn’t inquire about the nature of the questions regarding Mr. Millian, quote, “Mr. Danchenko’s responses were consistent with what would be expected during this type of questioning.”

A. Correct.

Q. And that meant that his reaction to the line of questioning did not lead you to believe he was lying to you, correct?

A. Correct.

Whether you find Danchenko’s stories credible or not, the fact of the matter is that Durham charged Danchenko with lying in these conversations in spite of the fact that his primary witnesses both attested, sometimes under oath, that they believed him.

There’s no telling what the jury will do. Durham will use testimony from a validation review to suggest that at least one person at the FBI, someone who didn’t have a personal investment in Danchenko’s success, suspected he was a GRU spy. Durham will likely argue that Auten and Helson only believe Danchenko because they’re incompetent.

Which is why, ultimately, Durham’s own evasions and failures will be central.

John Durham Created a False Pee Tape Panic Based Off a “Literally True” Alleged Lie

Here’s how Judge Anthony Trenga explained his decision to dismiss the false statement charge against Igor Danchenko tied to Chuck Dolan, a charge alleging that Danchenko lied to his handling agent Kevin Helson when he responded to a question about whether he, “talked to Chuck Dolan about anything that showed up in the dossier,” with, “No. We talked about, you know, related issues, perhaps, but no, no, no, nothing specific.”

[A] prosecution for a false statement under Section 1001 cannot be based on a literally true statement even if that response is nonresponsive or misleading.

[snip]

The government presented two witnesses that provided direct evidence concerning Count 1: Charles Dolan and FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson. Dolan identified to one occasion when he spoke on the phone with Mr. Danchenko about the dossier, specifically on January 11, 2017, the day after it was published by BuzzFeed. Dolan testified, however, that there was no discussion about anything in the dossier, precisely what Danchenko told Helson, although the dossier was mentioned.

[snip]

Special Agent Helson confirmed in his testimony that he never explained to the defendant what he meant by “talked,” nor did he follow up with the defendant about what the defendant meant by his answer that he had talked about related issues with Dolan.

[snip]

The standard definition of “talk” means communication through the spoken word.

Applying that definition, the evidence in this case establishes that Mr. Danchenko’s answer was literally true.

[snip]

Helson asked an unambiguous question, defined otherwise would allow the government to impose the serious consequences of criminal liability under Section 1001 by divorcing words from the commonly understood meaning.

[snip]

Agent Helson testified that if what Dolan said was true, Mr. Danchenko’s answer was literally true; and in light of that testimony, Agent Helson understood the question the same way that Mr. Danchenko did, as asking for verbal communications.

Trenga’s decision came after the prosecution rested Friday, and Danchenko opted not to mount a defense (he was never going to do so; he never provided a witness list). On Monday, the two sides will present their closing arguments, and the jury will move to deliberating over the four remaining charges, which allege that Danchenko lied when he told the FBI, over and over, that he believed that an anonymous caller he claimed to have spoken to in late July 2016 was Sergei Millian. I hope to do a follow-up post explaining the evidence presented on those four charges.

Judge Trenga dismissed this charge because John Durham had accused Igor Danchenko of lying when all the evidence, including the affirmative testimony of two of Durham’s own witnesses, shows his statement was “literally true.”

Trenga judged that Durham had accused Danchenko of lying when in fact he was telling the truth after Durham, the frothers, and far too many members of the legacy press spent almost a year spinning conspiracy theories based on it, most notably by claiming that Chuck Dolan (whose ties to Democrats Durham and the press also wildly overstated) was the source for the pee tape allegation, even though Danchenko had named one of his Russian associates as the source and even though (we now know) Dolan claims he doesn’t remember meeting Danchenko at the Moscow Ritz, much less talking about pee tapes.

Trenga dismissed the charge after Durham spent much of the four day trial trying to bolster the materiality claims behind this charge.

For example, Durham prosecutor Michael Keilty had former FBI analyst Brittany Herzogg testify about how, months after the literally true alleged lie (Herzogg first joined the Mueller team the month after the literally true alleged lie), she tried but was not permitted to get the Mueller team to take further steps to investigate Dolan. Similarly, prosecutor Brittain Shaw had Special Agent Amy Anderson describe how at least three and possibly as many as six months after Danchenko told the literally true alleged lie, her supervisor on the Mueller team (which had to have new predications approved by Rod Rosenstein) did not let her open an investigation into Dolan.

On at least two occasions, these efforts to bolster the materiality of this literally true alleged lie extended to attempting to introduce false or misleading testimony to the jury.

On cross, Danny Onorato caught Shaw eliciting a false claim from Anderson — that Danchenko had not revealed Dolan’s ties to Dmitry Peskov — when in fact he had revealed that during the interview where he told the literally true alleged lie.

Q Okay. And are you aware that Mr. Danchenko in June, despite what Ms. Shaw asked you and despite what you told her, actually described that Mr. Dolan knew the press secretary of Vladimir Putin? Right?

A According to this document, yes.

Q Yeah. And it came from Mr. Danchenko, right?

A Yes.

Q Okay. And so you said that if you knew there was a connection back in June of Mr. Peskov and Mr. Dolan, that would be significant, right?

A Yes.

Q And you knew it in June, right?

A Yes.

Q And when you testified, you weren’t trying to lie; were you?

A I was absolutely not trying to lie.

Earlier that morning, Danchenko attorney Stuart Sears caught Durham himself trying to make further misrepresentations on this topic. In an attempt to suggest that Sears had coached Danchenko handler Kevin Helson to claim (falsely, Durham wanted to prove) that Danchenko had never been asked about the report at issue in this charge, Steele Report 105, Durham asked Helson to refer back to the original Danchenko interviews where — Durham falsely claimed — Helson would find Supervisory Analyst Brian Auten asking Danchenko about Report 105.

Q Now, counsel also asked you some questions on cross-examination yesterday that you — the question was asked and you kind of adopted it. The question was essentially — and Mr. Auten never asked Mr. Danchenko about the report number, which was 2016/105. It was the Manafort report.

A Okay.

Q He asked you if Auten asked him about that, and you said no or you adopted the question no. Do you recall, sir, whether or not — in the three-day interview in January of 2017 whether or not Mr. Danchenko was, in fact, asked questions and there was reporting in the report about the Manafort part of the dossier?

A I didn’t recall that, no.

Q All right. Do you recall it now? Well, let me withdraw that. I’d ask you to take a look at Government’s Exhibit 100. It’s just for identification in the record now. You are free, of course, to look at the entirety of it, but I would direct your attention most particularly to pages 11 and 12 to see if that refreshes your recollection as to whether or not Mr. Danchenko is, in fact, asked questions relating to Paul Manafort and the like in January 2017.

[snip]

A Is there a particular page?

Q Pages 11 and 12, but look through it as you want. Does that refresh your recollection, sir, as to whether, in fact, Mr. Danchenko had been asked about the Manafort matters back in January of 2017?

Here’s the passage of Danchenko’s January 2017 interviews where, Durham falsely claimed, Helson would find memorialization of Auten asking Danchenko about Report 105 — the report describing that Corey Lewandowski hated Manafort.

Not only does this passage relate to entirely different details about Manafort — his ties to Viktor Yanukovych rather than his animosity with Corey Lewandowski, not only does it address events that transpired even before Manafort started replacing Lewandowski as Trump’s Campaign Manager, not only do these events precede the report in question by five months, but this is not even a reference to what is known as the Steele dossier, paid for by Perkins Coie.

It’s a reference to the reporting on Manafort specifically that Oleg Deripaska paid for.

As Sears explained in a sidebar, Durham was deliberately conflating broader Manafort reporting (nobody pointed out what I have, that this specific reference wasn’t even to what is known as the Steele dossier) with the single report he charged.

MR. SEARS: Your Honor, Mr. Durham’s question has created the impression, I think, that the Manafort discussion, as referenced in that report, was about Report 105. My question was very specific about whether he had ever been shown that specific report. It is true that Paul Manafort came up during discussions.

THE COURT: In January?

MR. SEARS: In January. But just about his relationship with Ukraine, not about his resignation from the campaign or any of those issues. I’m concerned about the impression he’s giving to the jury because of the way the questions were asked. It is redirect.

THE COURT: On cross, he said that he wasn’t aware of —

MR. SEARS: Whether or not he had ever been shown that report.

THE COURT: So the report itself?

MR. SEARS: The report itself.

John Durham, in his attempt to prove that Danchenko lied about something that actually mattered in that literally true alleged lie, misrepresented the record, falsely claiming that Helson had misspoken.

I know! It’s dizzying even for me! And I knew this was a misrepresentation as soon as frothers falsely claimed Durham had caught Sears in a lie.

By yesterday’s testimony, Danchenko’s lawyers summarized what the Dolan charge was really about as opposed to what Durham had spun it into by mocking the idea you’d open an espionage investigation into someone because they repeated the publicly known fact that Corey Lewandowski hates Paul Manafort.

Q Okay. And I just want to ask one final question because I think you talked about Russian misinformation. Correct?

A Correct.

Q Do you think it could be Russian misinformation that Corey Lewandowski hated Paul Manafort back in July of 2016?

A I honestly don’t remember that specific allegation. Anything could be Russian misinformation.

Q Sure.

A It’s possible.

Q But I’m asking you. If you heard from me, “Corey Lewandowski hates Paul Manafort,” would you then run and open up an espionage investigation based on that fact?

A No.

The pushback from Durham’s prosecutors, discussing the the dossier in terms of “Russian interference,” “Russian-related,” and “related to Russia,” is actually a fair enough point.

Q And in terms of — he asked you about Mr. Manafort and Lewandowski. With respect to knowing whether someone passed false information that contained allegations — not the Lewandowski part but somebody made up that they were an insider or had inside information, in the course of looking at Russian interference, as you did in the Special Counsel’s investigation, would that have been important to you?

[snip]

Would it be relevant to you if that information actually had come from somebody the dossier claimed to be a Trump insider and the dossier was a Russian related — related to Russia and Donald Trump’s connections to Russia? Correct?

A Correct.

Q So would it have been relevant to know in that dossier that that information came from a Trump insider?

A Yes.

But that was an argument to investigate Dolan, not to prosecute Danchenko for his literally true statements about Dolan.

Taken on its face, too, it’s a vindication of opening an investigation to find out which of Trump’s Coffee Boys were lying about their role in a Russian influence operation. If this is your standard — and it is the standard Durham has finally adopted — then every investigation Crossfire Hurricane opened up was justified.

As I’ll show, Durham went further still yesterday, arguing that Mueller’s investigators hadn’t investigated Sergei Millian aggressively enough in 2017.

In any case, thus far, the only people who have been demonstrably lying are Durham’s own witnesses and, arguably, his own prosecution team. As Durham has been sustaining this claim that Danchenko lied even though what he said was literally true, Durham has burned two reportedly valuable FBI sources, damaged US cybersecurity efforts, partnered with a now-sanctioned Russian bank, and forced the declassification of details of multiple FBI counterintelligence investigations.

That is the damage Durham has wrought while he has been spinning tales of pee tapes to sustain his investigation.

At least with regards to Chuck Dolan, Judge Trenga has ruled, Igor Danchenko was literally telling the truth. Durham made of that literally true statement a bogus pee tape panic that has done breathtaking amounts of damage.

Update: Added more context per Frank Probst’s comment.

As John Durham Preps for his Closing Report, His Own Withholdings become Key

Update: Judge Trenga has dismissed the Chuck Dolan charge because it was based entirely on the definition of “talk.”

It’s sometimes helpful to think of all the witnesses at a trial as just tactical preparation for a closing argument. Their credibility is important, sure, but they also serve to get evidence admissible, which the two sides then use in their closing arguments to direct how the jury will assess it.

In the Igor Danchenko case, however, John Durham appears to be prepping not for his closing argument in this trial, but for the report he will write after it’s clear who will run which houses in Congress next year.

At the end of the day yesterday, as part of a second redirect of Danchenko’s handling agent Kevin Helson, Durham introduced evidence I suspect he’ll use to argue that Danchenko — and not, say, Oleg Deripaska — was the prime mover of disinformation in the dossier. After duping poor Christopher Steele for years, Durham may argue in his report (but not necessarily to the EDVA jury), Danchenko succeeded in duping poor Kevin Helson and through him the poor FBI for years, and as a result led the FBI to believe a whole bunch of false information about Russian influence operations. Again, that’s not what the record shows, but I suspect Durham is laying foundation to make that argument.

Based on what Durham pulled yesterday, if Republicans win at least one house of Congress, I expect there will be a concerted effort to force the Biden Administration to deport Danchenko, whether or not he’s acquitted (and thus far, both Durham’s initial witnesses have testified that Danchenko didn’t lie, so acquittal is a good possibility).

None of this makes any sense. But it only has to make sense for people like Jim Jordan and (if they’re reelected) Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley. They’ve never cared about the damage they do to national security by trying to criminalize being a Democrat (nevermind that testimony yesterday from Danchenko’s handling agent said he’s not one).

I’ll return to this — as well as the damage that Grassley is alleged to have already done — tomorrow, after I get a chance to read the transcript for what will be Durham’s continued questioning of Helson this morning.

But the likelihood that Durham is only trying to prep material for his own report, not for this jury, raises the stakes on Durham’s own withholdings.

Key to Durham’s materiality argument is that if Danchenko had told the truth about things Durham claims Danchenko lied about, there would have been a much closer immediate focus on Chuck Dolan and the access Danchenko facilitated between Dolan and his childhood friend, Olga Galkina. In Durham’s mind, that would have allowed Crossfire Hurricane to ask questions of Dolan that Durham’s own questions and an FBI investigation of Dolan didn’t surface when they did investigate Dolan, starting in late 2017, some details of which Danchenko attorney Stuart Sears introduced during cross-examination of Dolan yesterday.

Q You’re aware, Mr. Dolan, aren’t you, that the government was investigating you at some point?

A Yes.

Q You’re aware that they issued search warrants and subpoenas for your email communications?

A Yes.

Q You’re aware that they issued subpoenas for your phone records?

A Yes.

Q Your work email records?

A Yes.

Q Your Facebook records?

A Yes.

Q And I think you have already testified to this, but even knowing everything that the government has done to look into you, it’s still your testimony today that you’ve never talked to Mr. Danchenko about anything that ended up in the dossier, correct?

A Correct.

Durham imagines that if Danchenko had told the truth about a report no one much cared about and he was never asked about, the FBI would have proven that Chuck Dolan was behind the pee tape, even though neither a prior FBI investigation nor Durham’s own have developed evidence he is (though that didn’t stop Durham from falsely implying he had in the Danchenko indictment).

If Danchenko had told the truth about things Durham claims he lied about — again, I’m just thinking with Durham-brain here, the evidence thus far is that Danchenko didn’t lie — then the FBI would have realized from the start that Danchenko lied to Christopher Steele about ever speaking to Millian. Such a claim is utterly useless to materiality of the Mueller investigation, both because Mueller didn’t use the dossier and the FBI didn’t integrate Danchenko’s own warnings about the limits of his conversation with Millian into the FISA applications against Carter Page. But it would be useful if Durham wants to spin an even bigger conspiracy theory, that Danchenko duped first Steele and then the FBI.

I mean, there are other reasons it wouldn’t make sense (not least that Steele, not Danchenko, drove the focus on Millian). But it only needs to make sense for Jim Jordan and Chuck Grassley to have an effect.

And so, Durham wants the jury to believe that Danchenko was covering something up because he didn’t hand over key communications — including:

  • August 2016 emails with Dolan that might have sourced the arguably most accurate Steele report, one that –as Brian Auten testified the other day — “has absolutely nothing to do about collusion in Russia, which is the whole point that Crossfire Hurricane was opened”
  • Any evidence of a mobile app phone call made by Millian (or anyone else) to Danchenko in late July 2016
  • An August 2016 email with Millian (and/or possibly August 2016 emails with the RIA Novosti journalists who facilitated Danchenko’s introduction to Millian)

FBI would have obtained the Dolan emails in question — including his much more extensive communications with Olga Galkina — both from FISA 702 collection on Galkina by June 2017 as well as from the investigative steps Sears laid out, above, and even still, the FBI was simply not interested in the report that Durham has made the centerpiece of this case.

As for the communications with or about Millian, after saying in his first interview that the call with Millian could have been on a phone app, Danchenko said from the third day of his first interview in January 2017 that he had deleted some communications.

[Danchenko] said that he had gone back to check for electronic communications records, but he said that he had deleted most of the election-related communications “months ago.” He also has a different phone from the one he used previously. He didn’t delete communication involving [Dmitry Zlodorev], and he had reported that communication to Christopher Steele.

Whether that’s true or not will likely be a key detail the lawyers will confirm or debunk in days ahead. It’s also true, however, that from the start Danchenko described both his emails to Millian and his exchanges with the RIA Novosti journalists, and email with whom Danchenko did turn over, and his original descriptions were consistent with what Durham eventually obtained.

And that’s why it’s interesting that Durham himself withheld things, and attempted to withhold critical evidence from the jury (and in the process, avoid having it made public to debunk his own eventual report).

Critically, Durham (who charged Danchenko without first getting a commitment that Millian wouldn’t hand him his ass, as he eventually did), attempted to withhold from they jury and did withhold from Brian Auten and Helson documents that show a phone call with Millian in late July was possible as well as documents that show Danchenko acted as if he believed he would meet someone he believed to be Millian.

Perhaps the most important exchange came when Durham led Auten through questions in which — possibly by cutting his review of a document one page short — he got Auten to say that Danchenko said Millian called him on a telephony call.

Q You have a version of it. What you have in front of you is the portion relating to Report 95, correct?

A 100, sorry.

Q The excerpt you have relates to — on page 19 — starting on page 19 going to 20?

A Yes, correct.

Q And will you take a look at that and see if it refreshes any recollections on either the 24th or the 25th, which then appears at 37 as to what kind of device he purportedly received a phone call?

A On page 20 — this would have been the 24th — it says “phone call.”

Again, you can see that the reference in question carries over to page 21, but Durham asked Auten to review just pages 19 to 20.

Danny Onorato later went back and — in exchange that not only caught Durham in his deceit, but showed the hazards of claiming others were withholding material information — had Auten correct his testimony.

Q. Okay. And, again, I’m not giving you a hard time because you didn’t ask a lot of probing questions on that day because you were just trying to break the ice with him to see if you can get him to work with you. Somma said you’d have more time to work with him, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. But I do want to try to correct something about what you testified about this morning. Okay?

A. Okay.

Q. And you prepared to testify with Mr. Durham and his team, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And I think he asked you to look at Government Exhibit 100.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And when he asked you to look at Government one- — Exhibit 100, I think you may have answered that he did not mention a call app on Page 20, right, in response to his questions?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Well, do me a favor. Look at Page 20 and then 21, And see if that refreshes your memory the first day about what Mr. Danchenko told you.

A. I apologize. Yes, it basically says — would you like me to read it?

Q. Yeah.

A. Okay. I’ll start at the middle of — middle of the last paragraph of Page 20. [As read:] “The two of them talked for a bit and the two of them tentatively agreed to meet in person in New York City at the end of July. At the end of July, Danchenko traveled with his daughter to New York but the meeting never took place and no one ever called Danchenko back. Altogether, he had only a single phone call with an individual he thought to be Millian. The call was either a cellular call or it was a communication through a phone app.”

Q. I’m sorry, what did you just say?

A. “Or it was a communication through a phone app.”

Q. Okay. So remember when Mr. Durham asked you questions this morning, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he omit — ask you to look at page 21 to see what Mr. Danchenko told you that day?

A. I don’t think he was omitting. I think I —

Q. Okay. And did you intentionally omit, intentionally tell the jury something wrong, right?

A. No.

Q. But the import of the testimony was that, no, he never mentioned in that first meeting it could have been a phone app, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And now we all know that that’s false, right?

A. Correct.

Q. So he did mention a mobile app?

A. That is correct. [my emphasis]

I expect that Danchenko’s team has a follow-up or two for days ahead on this issue. Note that in this case, unlike the Michael Sussmann case, Durham intends to put his case agent on the stand.

The point, however, is that Onorato caught Durham eliciting knowingly false testimony about a central issue in the case: whether Millian could have called Danchenko using a phone app, leading Danchenko to honestly believe they might meet face to face in NYC on July 28, 2016.

But, for all Durham’s claims that withholding emails are evidence of guilt, Danchenko’s team caught him doing that too. Here’s how Onorato walked Auten through an email Millian sent bragging about his ties to Trump in July 2016.

Q And, again, I don’t want to discuss whether the information in this email is truthful, okay. But it purports to be an email from Sergei Millian, right?

A 481, yes.

Q Okay. And it purports to be sent on July 15 of 2016?

A Correct.

Q And it purports to be to someone named bridgeusa —

A @aol.com, yes.

Q And the subject matter is Trump?

A Trump, yes.

Q Okay. And do you remember when Mr. Durham asked you questions about if you had certain facts, would they have been material or helpful to you? Right?

A Yes. Yes.

Q Okay. So in July 15 of 2016, again, the same time frame that Mr. Danchenko allegedly received this anonymous phone call, right?

A Yes.

Q If you had known that Mr. Millian was telling people that he would be meeting with Trump and his people, would that be significant to you?

A Yes.

Q Okay. So I’m going to ask you to look at 4 — and that’s what that email purports to say, that Mr. Millian was going to be meeting with Trump and his people?

[snip]

Q Okay. So that would have been material and important when evaluating whether the anonymous caller could have been Mr. Millian? A Yes, this would have been helpful.

Q Correct. Did anybody from Mr. Durham’s team ever show you that document?

A This is the first time I’ve seen this document.

Similarly, Onorato walked Auten through an email — of uncertain content — between Millian and Dmitry Zlodorev, the RIA Novosti journalist who gave Danchenko Millian’s contact information.

Q Okay. So let’s go to the next document. That’s 482, again, the translated page. It’s also dated the same day. So it’s July 15, 2016, but this time it’s from Millian to a person named Zlodorev, right?

A Correct.

Q And Zlodorev is someone that Mr. Danchenko discussed with you in your January meetings, correct?

A That is correct.

Q In fact, he told you that Zlodorev was actually the individual that put him in touch with Millian, right?

A That is my recollection, yes.

Q Okay. And it’s fair to say, again, not whether a meeting happened or it was truthful, but that Millian was saying at the beginning of August, “I’m meeting with Trump and his people. I assume we will discuss Russia.” Right?

A Yes.

Q And, again, that fact would be important for you as an analyst, right?

A Yes.

Q And that’s a document that Mr. Danchenko, of course, was not copied on, right?

A Correct.

Q But did the special counsel show you that document before today?

A I have not seen this document.

Yesterday, Stuart Sears walked Helson through the fact that neither the Mueller team nor Durham ever told him that Danchenko had turned over emails relating to Millian.

Q. And I think you already testified to this, but were you aware that Mr. Danchenko had told Mr. Auten about that email in January 2017?

A. No.

Q. Okay. Were you also aware that he had provided them with an email during the January interviews between him and Mr. Zlodorev, which is the person he got Mr. Millian’s contact information from in August?

A. No.

Q. He actually gave him a screenshot of the email?

A. No.

Q. You were not aware of that?

A. No.

The most important of these is a Facebook message Danchenko sent, apparently to his spouse, on July 28, 2016, referencing that he had one more meeting that day. Outside the presence of the jury, Durham fought hard against admitting the communication, arguing it was hearsay, even though he had planned on introducing the exhibit himself until just days ago.

The government has evidence in its possession that is, frankly, Brady or exculpatory. And what they’re telling this Court is — and this was co-marked as Government Exhibit 607 until Friday night, so we relied on this to be used by them. And, again, I don’t want to say that it’s truthful that there was a meeting, just a statement of intent, because there was no meeting. He told them there was no meeting, and this supports that notion. And there’s going to be evidence that he left New York City later that night in a window where that meeting could have taken place.

MR. DURHAM: The issue is that it is not admissible under the rules of evidence. And the defense —

THE COURT: Well, I’m not sure — I’m not sure that’s dispositive, though, as far as what importance he would have attached to it, had he known of it. I understand your point.

MR. DURHAM: But the point is — Your Honor had observed earlier — you don’t know what’s even being talked about here. You don’t know whether it’s a meeting that Mr. Danchenko is supposed to intend, that he was invited to, if it relates to the L messages. You just don’t — you don’t know if it is a meeting involving other people that he’ll get information on down the road. It just — it is unclear and it just invites speculation on the part of the jury. So to incorporate that same information in a question would be, respectfully, inappropriate.

MR. ONORATO: And, Your Honor, I just have one more point to make. It’s almost as if Mr. Danchenko would be omniscient, right? I mean, to have his state of mind where I have a meeting tonight and then he leaves New York, you know, five or six hours later, and knowing that he’s going to be sitting in this courtroom and, my god, he’s so lucky this email exists and they want to suppress the fact — not that it happened, but that was part of the intent from the agent who they said — you believe he’s now lying because we showed you a couple of emails you haven’t seen.

THE COURT: This was previously a proposed Government Exhibit?

MR. ONORATO: Yes. Government’s Exhibit 607.

What didn’t get mentioned in this colloquy is that what appears to be the same communication was included in the Danchenko indictment.

c. Also on or about July 28, 2016, DANCHENKO messaged an acquaintance the following: “Another meeting tonight. Thanks to my reporting in the past 36 hours, [U .K. Person1] and [U.K. Investigative Firm Employee] are flying in tomorrow [i.e., July 29, 2016] for a few days so I might be busy-don’t know when but in Downtown D.C.”

Here’s how Onorato walked Auten through the Facebook message Danchenko sent during the afternoon of July 28 expressing a belief that he had another meeting that day.

Q. But somewhere in that ballpark between 2:23 and 4:23, Mr. Danchenko makes a post. And I want to focus on the third line of that post. Can you highlight that? Okay. What does that say?

A. [As read:] “Another meeting tonight.”

Q. Okay. And Mr. Danchenko was posting at some point in the afternoon from New York City that he had another meeting tonight between 2:23 and 4:23 p.m., depending on how you interpret UTC time, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And I think — and he told you that he went to New York City for the purpose of having a meeting, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And the special counsel never showed you this exhibit, I take it?

A. I have not seen this.

Q. And so you’ve never been aware before today that Mr. Danchenko professed in the evening hours on the 28th that he believed he had a meeting at the time?

A. No. This is the first I am seeing this.

Q. Okay. And would you say that’s material to your consideration as to whether there’s a probability that would support the fact of his belief that it could have been Millian, that he had a meeting, first of all —

A. Right.

Q. It’s corroborative that he thought he had a meeting, right?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And that it would also corroborate that it could be Millian because you saw Millian’s travel records, right?

A. It is the possibility that it could be Millian.

Here’s how Stuart Sears walked Helson through the same material.

Q. Did they share with you evidence they had uncovered that Mr. Danchenko had sent a Facebook message to his wife from the Bronx Zoo in New York where he wrote, among other things, another meeting tonight on July 28th of 2016?

A. No.

Q. Did they share with you when they were sharing you the evidence they had uncovered in their investigation, that Mr. Millian had been reaching out to George Papadopoulos who was a foreign policy advisor to President Trump at the time, during the same time frame or very close to it, that Mr. Danchenko believed he spoke to Mr. Millian?

A. No.

Q. Would you agree with me, Agent Helson, that those additional facts that were uncovered by the Durham team tend to offer some support for Mr. Danchenko’s belief that the caller may have been Sergei Millian?

A. It could, yes.

Durham had in his possession abundant communications that showed not only that it was possible that Millian called Danchenko, but that Danchenko took action that suggested he believed someone, whether Millian or someone else, had set up that meeting.

But he tried to keep it away from the jury — even a detail he himself included in the indictment, that on the afternoon of July 28, Danchenko still believed he had one more meeting in New York.

John Durham is arguing that when someone withholds communications that are material to an investigation, it is proof he’s lying.

Thus far, the trial has shown he did far more of that than Igor Danchenko.

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

Since he was charged on November 3 last year, Igor Danchenko and his legal team have been virtually silent, mostly watching as John Durham’s team repeatedly failed to meet classified discovery dates.

But as we draw closer to the October 11 trial date, there has been more activity.

On August 1, there was a hilariously short status conference, all of four minutes, where Durham himself showed up. On August 21, Andrew DeFilippis — the most abusive of Durham’s prosecutors — dropped off the docket. Last week, Durham’s team asked for and got permission to file their motions in limine under seal — perhaps in an effort to avoid the inflammatory claims they made during the Michael Sussmann trial. Even the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) conference, at which the two sides argued over how much classified information Danchenko needs at trial and whether the government can substitute information to make it less sensitive, seems to have ended inconclusively. Afterwards, Judge Anthony Trenga deferred decision until September 29, in part because the two sides are seemingly still trying to work things out amicably.

Before the hearing, the parties had successfully resolved all issues as to many of the listed documents and during that hearing, the parties agreed to engage in further discussions and efforts with respect to the remaining documents at issue, including Defendant’s willingness to withdraw his notice as to certain listed documents and the Government’s willingness to review the classified nature of certain listed documents and provide summaries with respect to other listed documents, following which Defendant will advise the Court concerning what further interest, if any, he has in using the listed documents at trial in light of the totality of the information provided to him by the Government.

In short, it has lacked all the pre-trial drama of the Sussmann case (perhaps because DeFilippis so badly overstepped, and still lost, in the Sussmann case).

But things may about to get interesting.

In a motion to dismiss the indictment filed Friday, Danchenko calls one of the government’s arguments (pertaining to the four Sergei Millian-related charges) “desperate at best.” The bases Danchenko challenges the indictment against him largely map some of the problems I laid out here: The questions FBI asked are not ones about the topics Durham has charged and Danchenko’s answers — he convincingly argues — were true.

For nearly a year, from January 2017 through November 2017, Mr. Danchenko sat through numerous voluntary FBI interviews and provided hours of truthful information to the government. Four years later, Special Counsel John Durham returned an indictment that alleges Mr. Danchenko knowingly made false statements about two matters when he: (1) acknowledged to the FBI that he talked with PR Executive-1 about issues “related” to the content of the Company Reports but stated that he did not talk about “specific” allegations contained in one of the reports; and (2) made four consistent statements to the FBI about his equivocal “belief” that an anonymous man who called him may have been Chamber President-1. These equivocal and ambiguous answers were prompted by fundamentally ambiguous questions, are literally true, and are immaterial as a matter of law.

Further, the government’s attempt here to stretch § 1001(a)(2) to a defendant’s equivocal and speculative statements about his subjective belief appears to be a first. And it would be a first for good reason. In order to meet its burden of proof in a case predicated on a subjective belief the government would need to prove not whether something did or did not happen but that the defendant did not truly subjectively believe what he said happened or did not happen. That would be a heavy burden in any case and it is an insurmountable one here.

Danchenko also argues (as Sussmann did) his claimed lies could not be material, in this case because Durham’s materiality claim is based in the influence of the Steele dossier, which (as Danchenko notes) he didn’t even know about, much less write.

Significantly, the indictment does not allege that Mr. Danchenko’s allegedly false statements themselves were material, but instead alleges only that the Company Reports, and the information contained in those reports, some of which allegedly came from Mr. Danchenko, were material.

In my series of posts on Danchenko’s case, I even missed some problems with the indictment. I had noted, for example, that Durham entirely misrepresented the question Danchenko was asked about Chuck Dolan on which Durham built one of the false statement charges. Durham claimed the FBI asked Danchenko if Dolan was a source for Danchenko. As I noted and as Danchenko does in this MTD, the question was actually whether Dolan was another sub-source directly for Christopher Steele.

But Danchenko notes two more problems with the charge.

First, he was asked whether Dolan and he “spoken” about the matters in the dossier; and to prove they did, Durham provides an email. 

Count One alleges that Mr. Danchenko made a false statement when “he denied to agents of the FBI that he had spoken with PR Executive-1 about any [specific] material contained in the Company Reports, when in truth and in fact, and as the defendant well knew, PR Executive-1 was the source for an allegation contained in a Company Report dated August 22, 2016 and was otherwise involved in the events and information described in the reports.”

[snip]

For “proof” of the alleged false statement under this charge, the indictment relies on an email exchange between PR Executive-1 and Mr. Danchenko on or about August 19-20, 2016.

More problematic still, in context, the question was about whether Danchenko and Dolan had spoken about allegations that remained in the dossier after Steele wrote them up, a conversation that (because neither had seen Steele’s reports in real time) could only have taken place after January 11, when BuzzFeed published the dossier.

Next, when asked whether Mr. Danchenko and PR Executive-1 ever “talked . . . about anything that showed up in the dossier [Company Reports],” Mr. Danchenko responded, “No. We talked about, you know, related issues perhaps but no, no, no, nothing specific.” Indictment at 18 (emphasis added). The most reasonable reading of this question is whether Mr. Danchenko and PR Executive-1 talked about the Company Reports themselves after they were published. Mr. Danchenko’s answer to this question was literally true because he never talked to PR Executive-1 about the specific allegations contained in the Company Reports themselves, but they did talk about issues “related” to the allegations later published in those reports. Moreover, the specific question posed to Mr. Danchenko was whether Mr. Danchenko and PR Executive-1 “talked” about anything in the dossier. That part of the question was not ambiguous and, importantly, FBI Agent1 never asked whether Mr. Danchenko and PR Executive-1 had ever exchanged emails about information that showed up in the dossier. For that reason alone, evidence that PR Executive-1 allegedly emailed Mr. Danchenko about information contained in the Reports does not make Mr. Danchenko’s answer false

In arguing that his comments about Dolan weren’t material, Danchenko later confirms something I suspected: the FBI wasn’t much interested in the dossier report at the heart of Durham’s purported smoking gun evidence.

[T]he government apparently never even asked Mr. Danchenko about the specific information regarding Campaign Manager-1 that was contained in the relevant Company Report.

Remember: Durham tried to make this exchange stand in for the pee tape report (it worked with the press, too!!). But he didn’t actually charge anything pertaining to the pee tape.

Danchenko similarly notes that the government never asked Danchenko about something else Durham treated as a smoking gun: Emails from after the time, in July 2016, when Danchenko failed to meet someone he believed to be Sergei Millian, one of which Danchenko turned over himself in his first meeting with the FBI.

Danchenko was never asked about that email because it did nothing to clarify whether Chamber President-1 had been the anonymous caller and because it was, in truth and in fact, ultimately immaterial to the FBI’s investigation.

And with regards the Millian questions, Danchenko notes that Durham doesn’t even argue his responses were material. He instead argues the dossier was (though I think Durham will rebut this one).

As an initial matter, the indictment itself fails to even allege that Mr. Danchenko’s statements to the FBI were material. Instead, the indictment argues that the Company Reports created by U.K. Person-1 prior to Mr. Danchenko’s statements to the FBI were material:

(1) the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign relied in large part on the Company Reports to obtain FISA warrants on Advisor-1, (2) the FBI ultimately devoted substantial resources attempting to investigate and corroborate the allegations contained in the Company Reports, including the reliability of Danchenko’s sub-sources; and (3) the Company Reports, as well as information collected for the Reports by Danchenko, played a role in the FBI’s investigative decisions and in sworn representations that the FBI made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court throughout the relevant time period. Indictment at 4.

The materiality of the Company Reports, if any, is irrelevant to the materiality of the statements that Mr. Danchenko later made to the FBI and cannot provide a basis for a false statement charge against Mr. Danchenko. 7

He notes, as I did, that his answers in interviews after the first two Carter Page applications could not have been material to those applications.

Motions to dismiss rarely work, and this one is unlikely to either (though I think Danchenko’s argument with respect to the Dolan charge is particularly strong).

But if Durham adheres to the same sloppiness they did in the Sussmann case, the MTD may be useful to Danchenko for other reasons, besides framing the case for Judge Trenga. MTDs are supposed to rely entirely on what is charged in the indictment. But in addition to the observations that Danchenko was asked neither about the Dolan email Durham has made central to the indictment nor Danchenko’s own emails after the failed July 2016 meeting in NYC, Danchenko’s argument is also premised on there not being further evidence to substantiate what appears on the face of the indictment. For example, if Durham had testimony from Dolan about conversations with Danchenko about the pee tape, Danchenko might not have argued as he has. And Danchenko explicitly states that the indictment does not claim a July 2016 phone call Danchenko believed to be from Millian did not happen — a weakness in the indictment I raised several times.

Notably, the 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.

Nine months into discovery, Danchenko would know for a fact if Durham had conclusive proof that he didn’t get a call. He’d probably know the substance of Dolan’s testimony against him.

But in response to an attack on the shoddiness of this indictment, Durham may well — as he did with Sussmann — talk about what they would prove at trial, not what was in the indictment. If Durham has proof the call didn’t happen or thinks he can argue it, he may well reveal it in response. In the Sussmann case, anyway, Durham didn’t have the goods.

And along the way, Danchenko has nodded to where this will go if the indictment is not dismissed. Most notably, Danchenko asserts, as fact, that the FBI investigation into Millian long preceded his interviews.

Indeed, the FBI was already investigating Chamber President-1’s potential involvement with Russian interference efforts long before it had ever interviewed or even identified Mr. Danchenko.

The scope and results of the investigation into Millian is presumably one of the classified details that Danchenko has argued (correctly) he needs at trial, and if he has, then Trenga will be quite familiar with the substance of the evidence. If Danchenko does make an argument about the folly of relying on Millian as a key witness, then Danchenko’s trial may be even more of an indictment of the Durham investigation than Sussmann’s was.

In fact, early in this motion, Danchenko makes the contrast I keep making: between Mueller’s substantive results and Durham’s failure thus far to undermine that substance with shoddy false statements indictments.

Between January and November 2017, Mr. Danchenko not only answered every question to the best of his ability, even when asked to speculate, but also provided emails and contact information for other potential sources of information in the Reports. The investigation into the Reports was ultimately completed by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, in or about November 2017 and the Special Counsel’s office closed its entire investigation into possible Trump/Russia collusion in March 2019. Approximately thirty-four individuals were charged by Mueller’s office, including several for providing false statements to investigators. Mr. Danchenko was not among them. To the contrary, not only did investigators and government officials repeatedly represent that Mr. Danchenko had been honest and forthcoming in his interviews, but also resolved discrepancies between his recollection of events and that of others in Mr. Danchenko’s favor.

In or about April 2019, and just one month after Mueller had concluded his investigation, then President Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, tapped John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, to review the origins of the Russia investigation and efforts by law enforcement to investigate the Trump campaign. Just prior to the end of former President Trump’s term, Barr appointed Mr. Durham Special Counsel to carry out his investigation. Through the instant indictment, the Durham Special Counsel’s Office now claims to have uncovered false statements made by Mr. Danchenko that the previous special counsel did not, despite relying substantially on the same evidence, the same statements, and the same agents involved in the Mueller investigation.

While he doesn’t say it explicitly, in several places Danchenko makes clear that both Mueller and Michael Horowitz will affirm that, for years, Danchenko was consistently viewed as candid and his candid views were material to both those investigations.

And because Durham is now claiming otherwise, based off issues that weren’t even of interest to investigators, Durham risks putting himself on trial in October.

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

Legal commentators who ignored the run-up to the Michael Sussmann trial and still have not reported on the evidence of abuse and incompetence are writing posts claiming it was always clear that the jury in that case would return an acquittal. The same people, however, are suggesting there might be more to the Igor Danchenko charges.

I wrote a whole series of posts laying out why that’s wrong — the last one, with links to the others, is here. In addition, I’ve been tracking Durham’s difficulties obtaining classified discovery from other parts of DOJ here. This post pulls together the problems Durham faces in his second trial, which is currently scheduled to start on October 11.

As a reminder, the Danchenko indictment charges the former Christopher Steele source with telling five lies to the FBI in interviews in which they tried to vet the Steele dossier:

  • One alleged lie on June 15, 2017  about whether he had spoken with Chuck Dolan “about any material contained in the” dossier.
  • Four alleged lies, told in interviews on March 16, May 18, October 24, and November 16, 2017, that he spoke to Sergei Millian in late July 2016 when Danchenko knew (variably in 2016 or in the interviews in 2017) that he had never spoken with him; one charged lie accuses Danchenko of wittingly lying about speaking to Millian more than once.

Durham will have to prove that these five statements were intentional lies and that they were material to the FBI’s operations.

Danchenko could get his former lawyer to testify

Before looking at the problems with each of those claimed lies and their materiality, consider that shortly after being charged, Danchenko replaced Mark Schamel, who represented Danchenko in his 2017 interviews with the FBI, with a team led by Lowenstein Sandler’s Stuart Sears. This makes it possible for Danchenko to do something risky but in this case potentially warranted: have his former attorney testify.

The interview report from his initial series of interviews in January 2017 shows that Danchenko was uncertain about the answer to some questions, but over the course of three days, checked his own records and corrected himself when he realized he had made an error in answering an affirmative question from the FBI. In at least one case, Danchenko also provided proof to back one of his claims. Schamel could explain how diligently he and Danchenko prepared for these interviews, how Danchenko corrected himself when he realized he was wrong, and the perceived focus — by all appearances, on Danchenko’s Russian sources — of the FBI interviews.

In short, Schamel’s testimony could go a long way to demonstrating that where Danchenko made an error, it was not willful.

The FBI didn’t ask the question about Chuck Dolan that Durham claims they did

Then there are the charges themselves. There are two potentially fatal problems with the single charge built around Chuck Dolan, which Durham has used to insinuate, with no evidence, that the minor Hillary supporter was the source of the pee tape allegation. The alleged lie Durham has accused Danchenko of, though, pertains to a more general question: whether Danchenko had “denied … that he had spoken to [Dolan] about any material” in the dossier.

Except, as happened repeatedly in his indictment of Danchenko, that’s neither what Danchenko was asked nor what he answered.

As I laid out in this post, it appears that Danchenko was asked whether Dolan was a source for Steele, not whether he was a source for Danchenko.

FBI AGENT-1: Um, because obviously I don’t think you’re the only …

DANCHENKO: Mm-hmm.

FBI AGENT-1: Person that has been contributing. You may have said one – and this is the other thing we are trying to figure out.

[ … ]

FBI AGENT-1: Do you know a [PR Executive-1]?

DANCHENKO: Do I know [PR Executive-1]? Yeah.

FBI AGENT-1: How long have you known him? [laughing] [pause]

DANCHENKO: I’ve known [PR-Executive-1] for [pause] I don’t know, a couple years maybe.

FBI AGENT-1: Couple years?

DANCHENKO: But but but but but but but I’ve known of him for like 12 years.

[ … ]

DANCHENKO: Yeah. Yeah he likes Russia. I don’t think he is, uh, – would be any way be involved. But-but-uh-b-but he’s uh [UI] what I would think would be easily played. Maybe. Uh, he’s a bit naive in his, um liking of Russia. [emphasis Durham’s]

The question was premised on Steele having other primary subsources other than Danchenko and his response was a denial of the possibility that Dolan was one of them. All of Danchenko’s responses could be framed with that understanding of the question.

Durham’s alleged false statement appears to stem from a follow-up question. But there, Durham has completely misrepresented Danchenko’s answer.

FBI AGENT-1: Okay, so you’ve had … was there any … but you had never talked to [PR Executive-1] about anything that showed up in the dossier [Company Reports] right?

DANCHENKO: No.

FBI AGENT-1: You don’t think so?

DANCHENKO: No. We talked about, you know, related issues perhaps but no, no, no, nothing specific. [emphasis Durham’s]

Danchenko explicitly told the FBI that he talked to Dolan about “related issues.” Particularly as regards the pee tape, Danchenko might consider using information from Dolan for further investigation a “related issue” but not the core issue that the FBI was interested in.

As to the report for which Durham presents compelling evidence that Dolan was the source, Durham presents no evidence of specific questioning about it, and there’s abundant evidence that Danchenko was never sure which reports came from him and which (he assumed) came from others.

Durham did not present any evidence that Danchenko denied, in response to specific questions about whether Dolan was involved in identified reports, that Dolan played a role in the dossier. He has evidence that Danchenko answered a question about something else, and then, in a follow-up, gave a much more equivocal response than Durham claims he gave.

Another Durham materiality claim fizzles after he actually investigates

Plus, it is virtually certain that Danchenko will be able to prove that his equivocal response could not have been material.

That’s because — as a declassified footnote of the DOJ IG Report makes clear — the reason the FBI asked these questions about Dolan on June 15, 2017 was because FBI had recently obtained Section 702 material showing conversations between Danchenko’s source, Olga Galkina, and Dolan.

The FBI [received information in early June 2017 which revealed that, among other things, there were [redacted]] personal and business ties between the sub-source and Steele’s Primary Sub-source; contacts between the sub-source and an individual in the Russian Presidential Administration in June/July 2016; [redacted] and the sub‐source voicing strong support for candidate Clinton in the 2016 U.S. elections. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that the FBI did not have Section 702 coverage on any other Steele sub‐source. [my emphasis]

That is, the reason the FBI was asking these questions in the first place is because they were trying to understand the communications they had just discovered between Dolan and Danchenko.

As the indictment lays out, Danchenko didn’t hide the key details about Dolan — that he was doing business in Russia, had ties with Dmitry Peskov, and had developed a business relationship with Galkina.

In a later part of the conversation, DANCHENKO stated, in substance and in part, that PR Executive-1 had traveled on the October “delegation” to Moscow; that PR Executive-1 conducted business with Business-1 and Russian Sub-source-1; and that PR Executive-1 had a professional relationship with Russian Press Secretary-1.

Durham claimed that Danchenko’s imagined lie was material because it deprived the FBI from obtaining information on Dolan.

DANCHENKO’s lies denying PR Executive-1 ‘s role in specific information referenced in the Company Reports were material to the FBI because, among other reasons, they deprived FBI agents and analysts of probative information concerning PR Executive-1 that would have, among other things, assisted them in evaluating the credibility, reliability, and veracity of the Company Reports, including DANCHENKO’s sub-sources.

We now know that, at the time Durham made this claim, he had barely begun the process of obtaining relevant evidence from DOJ IG. Even in the Michael Sussmann case, Durham first made a formal discovery request of Michael Horowitz’s office on October 13, 2021, almost a month after charging Sussmann (and just three weeks before indicting Danchenko). Durham didn’t receive materials that completely undermined his case against Sussmann until March.

From that, it’s fairly safe to assume that Durham (again) didn’t bother to test whether there was any basis for his materiality claims before building a long speaking indictment around them.

The FBI didn’t need Danchenko to tell them about Dolan’s Russian ties. They had discovered that already from 702 collection targeting Galkina. That’s precisely why they asked Danchenko whether Dolan could be another Steele source. And when asked for more details, Dahchenko offered up the details that FBI would have been looking for.

Durham’s due diligence problems on the Sergei Millian charges

There are several kinds of problems with the remaining four counts. As noted, four of the charges against Danchenko accuse him of hiding what Durham claims is affirmative knowledge (arguably in real time) that Sergei Millian never called him in late July 2016.

As a threshold matter, there’s no language in the Danchenko indictment suggesting Durham has affirmative proof that such a call didn’t happen — whether from Millian or anyone else. In his FBI interview, Danchenko suggested the call may have happened on a secure app and he said he had replaced the phone he used at the time. So it’s not clear that Durham can rule out a call on Signal or similar encrypted app. When Durham first rolled out this indictment, I thought such a claim would be reckless, but we now know Durham built his entire Sussmann indictment around billing records even though Durham had affirmative proof (in his taxi reimbursement) that Sussmann did not bill Hillary for his meeting with the FBI.

Worse still, even in the transcripts that Durham miscites in the indictment, Danchenko included a bunch of caveats that Durham does not include in his charging language: “I don’t know,” “at the time I was under the impression it was him,” “at least someone I thought was him.”

That creates a temporal problem with the way Durham has charged this. Even if Danchenko came to believe later in 2016 or in 2017 that he never spoke with Millian, in his interviews, Danchenko was answering about what he believed to be the case in July 2016, when he shared this report with Christopher Steele. All Danchenko was claiming was that he talked to some journalists at a Russian outlet, someone called Danchenko shortly thereafter (at a time, it should be said, when Oleg Deripaska likely already knew of the dossier project), and Danchenko assumed it was Millian because it was the most logical explanation. From the start, Danchenko always admitted his uncertainty about that call.

Durham is relying on a Twitter feed he has already said makes false claims about the Durham investigation

Then there’s the fact that Durham is relying on Sergei Millian as a witness against Danchenko.

As I noted last year, in his indictment, Durham claimed to prove that such a call had not happened based on Millian’s say-so. But not actual testimony. Rather, at that point, Durham was relying on Sergei Millian’s Twitter feed.

Chamber President-1 has claimed in public statements and on social media that he never responded to DANCHEKNO’s [sic] emails, and that he and DANCHENKO never met or communicated.

That was batshit insane then, not least because over the years journalists and others have raised real questions about the authenticity of Millian’s Twitter account. And since charging Danchenko, Millian has repeatedly made claims on Twitter that utterly demolishes the credibility of Millian’s Twitter feed.

Millian has played a key role in the “sleuths corner” that has ginned up all sorts of false claims about Durham’s investigation.

This explicit affiliation will entitle Danchenko to subpoena the activity of the group, and even if Millian were entirely credible, there are a number of people associated with the corner who are not.

Then, as part of his role in generating froth about the Durham investigation, Millian played a central role in misrepresenting a claim Durham had made in a filing in the Sussmann case, suggesting that Durham had proven that researchers had spied on the Trump White House.

This led Durham to formally state that those who made such claims were “misrepresent[ing] facts contained in the Government’s Motion.” So Durham has publicly accused his star witness — Sergei Millian’s Twitter feed — of making false claims about matters pertaining to Durham’s investigation.

Worse still, in the same time period, Millian claimed that he had called the White House and told them “who was working against them.”

That reflects the kind of knowledge that could only come from a concerted effort, in real time (seemingly in 2016), to fuck with the Fusion investigation, followed by a subsequent effort (at such time when Trump was in the White House), to exact a cost for the investigation. Effectively, with this tweet, Millian confessed to being part of the effort to undermine the Russian investigation. That makes Millian’s contact with Deripaska in 2016 all the more problematic, since Deripaska has seemingly carried out a sustained campaign to attack the Russian investigation. But it also suggests that Millian’s claims to have entirely blown off Danchenko’s quetions were false.

Millian has since claimed that Durham’s office was trying to keep him off Twitter, but that he refused because he wants to attack his enemies.

This is all just stuff that Millian has done since the indictment, and to the extent earlier Millian tweets are preserved showing professed knowledge of the 2016 Russian operation (as some are), Danchenko would be able to use those at trial as well.

Which may be why — at least according to Millian’s unreliable Twitter feed — Durham is now trying to get Millian to come testify at trial. But Millian suggests that testifying under oath to the claims he has been making on Twitter for years would amount to “using him.”

Durham’s star witness refuses to return to the US without some kind of “gentleman’s agreement” regarding his “safe return.” That’s not going to be a very credible witness on the stand, if he even shows up to testify.

The counterintelligence investigation against Millian was real in 2016 and may be realer now

Which leads us, again, to Durham’s failures to do basic investigation before charging these indictments.

We know Durham didn’t reach out to Michael Horowitz until weeks before charging Danchenko. The Sussmann case made it clear Durham had not received centrally relevant evidence in the Sussmann case until March.

That means Durham may not have been aware of the public evidence — in both the DOJ IG Report and declassified footnotes — describing the counterintelligence investigation opened on Millian in October 2016, which was opened in NY (where Millian lived at the time), not DC (where Fusion and others were also raising concerns).

In addition, we learned that [Millian] was at the time the subject of an open FBI counterintelligence investigation. 302 We also were concerned that the FISA application did not disclose to the court the FBI’s belief that this sub-source was, at the time of the application, the subject of such an investigation. We were told that the Department will usually share with the FISC the fact that a source is a subject in an open case. The OI Attorney told us he did not recall knowing this information at the time of the first application, even though NYFO opened the case after consulting with and notifying Case Agent 1 and SSA 1 prior to October 12, 2016, nine days before the FISA application was filed. Case Agent 1 said that he may have mentioned the case to the OI Attorney “in passing,” but he did not specifically recall doing so. 303

301 As discussed in Chapter Four, [Millian] [redacted]

302 According to a document circulated among Crossfire Hurricane team members and supervisors in early October 2016, [Millian] had historical contact with persons and entities suspected of being linked to RIS. The document described reporting [redacted] that [Millian] “was rumored to be a former KGB/SVR officer.” In addition, in late December 2016, Department Attorney Bruce Ohr told SSA 1 that he had met with Glenn Simpson and that Simpson had assessed that [Millian] was a RIS officer who was central in connecting Trump to Russia.

We know Durham has little familiarity with the Mueller Report, much less the underlying investigation. Which means he similarly may not have considered the evidence that Millian was cultivating George Papadopoulos during precisely the same weeks when Danchenko was contacting Millian for information on Trump.

Papadopoulos first connected with Millian via LinkedIn 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.

On July 31 , 2016, following his first in-person meeting with Millian, Papadopoulos emailed Trump Campaign official Bo Denysyk to say that he had been contacted “by some leaders of Russian-American voters here in the US about their interest in voting for Mr. Trump,” and to ask whether he should “put you in touch with their group (US-Russia chamber of commerce).”507 Denysyk thanked Papadopoulos “for taking the initiative,” but asked him to “hold off with outreach to Russian-Americans” because “too many articles” had already portrayed the Campaign, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and candidate Trump as “being pro-Russian.”508

On August 23, 2016, Millian sent a Facebook message to Papadopoulos promising that he would ” share with you a disruptive technology that might be instrumental in your political work for the campaign.”509 Papadopoulos claimed to have no recollection of this matter.510

On November 9, 2016, shortly after the election, Papadopoulos arranged to meet Millian in Chicago to discuss business opportunities, including potential work with Russian “billionaires who are not under sanctions.”511 The meeting took place on November 14, 2016, at the Trump Hotel and Tower in Chicago.512 According to Papadopoulos, the two men discussed partnering on business deals, but Papadopoulos perceived that Millian’s attitude toward him changed when Papadopoulos stated that he was only pursuing private-sector opportunities and was not interested in a job in the Administration.5 13 The two remained in contact, however, and had extended online discussions about possible business opportunities in Russia. 514 The two also arranged to meet at a Washington, D.C. bar when both attended Trump’s inauguration in late January 2017.515

More recently, as part of charges against a different Russian-American who fled because of a counterintelligence investigation, DOJ made clear that Millian’s organization knew at least by 2013 they should have registered as agents of Russia.

a. On or about January 30, 2013, BRANSON received an email from an individual using an email address ending in “mail.ru.” Based on my review of publicly available information, I have learned that this individual was a Senior Vice President of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA. This email had the subject line “Problem.” and the text of the email included, among other things, a portion of the FARA Unit’s website with background on FARA. In response, BRANSON wrote, in part, “I am interested in the number of the law, its text in English[.]” The sender then responded with “Lena, read …” and copied into the email background on FARA and portions of the statute.

All of which to say that Durham likely cannot make any “gentleman’s agreement” on DOJ’s behalf with Millian about coming to the US to testify against Danchenko, because other parts of DOJ have equities that significantly precede Durham’s, equities that pertain more directly to harm to the United States and current national security priorities.

Plus, even if Durham did succeed in bringing his star witness against Danchenko to EDVA to testify against him, even if Millian weren’t arrested on sealed charges when he landed, the trial would end up being a circus in which the evidence against Millian and the false claims Millian has made about the Durham investigation playing a more central role than the evidence against Danchenko.

There are few things Durham could do that would make it more clear how his witch hunt has served Russia’s interests, and not those of the US.

I mean, I’m all for it. But at some point Durham may come to recognize that’s not a winning case.

There is affirmative evidence that any alleged lies Danchenko told were not material

It’s not clear whether Sussmann jurors ever got as far as considering the materiality problems in the case against Sussmann. But, even on top of the specific problem arising from the Section 702 directive targeting Galkina, described above, Durham may have bigger materiality problems with Danchenko.

That’s because — as explained in the DOJ IG Report Durham didn’t read closely — FBI repeatedly made decisions that affirmatively reflect finding claims in the dossier and Danchenko’s interviews were not material to their decision to keep surveilling Carter Page.

That’s true, first of all, because the initial FISA targeting Page obtained useful information. Notes from Tashina Gaushar that Durham belatedly discovered in the Sussmann case described the FISAs against Page this way:

So before the FBI ever spoke to Danchenko, they had independent reason (on top of the counterintelligence concerns NYFO had used in March 2016 to open an investigation on Page) to target Page.

Moreover, the FBI started identifying problems with the Millian allegations before the first FISA, but never integrated those or Danchenko’s own interviews into their FISA applications.

Regarding the information in the first bullet above, in early October 2016, the FBI learned the true name of Person 1 (described in Report 95 as “Source E”). As described in Chapter Six, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she had one 10- to 15-minute telephone call with someone he/she believed to be Person 1, but who did not identify him/herself on the call. We found that, during his/her interview with the FBI, the Primary Sub-source did not describe a “conspiracy” between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign or state that Carter Page served as an “intermediary” between Manafort and the Russian government. In addition, the FBl’s summary of the Primary Sub-source’s interview did not describe any discussions between the parties concerning the disclosure of DNC emails to Wikileaks in exchange for a campaign platform change on the Ukrainian issue. To the contrary, according to the interview summary, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that Person 1 told him/her that there was “nothing bad” about the communications between the Kremlin and Trump, and that he/she did not recall any mention of Wikileaks. Further, although Steele informed the FBI that he had received all of the information in Report 95 from the Primary Sub-source, and Steele told the OIG the same thing when we interviewed him, the Primary Subsource told the FBI that he/she did not know where some of the information attributed to Source E in Report 95 came from. 388 Despite the inconsistencies between Steele’s reporting and the information his Primary Sub-source provided to the FBI, the subsequent FISA renewal applications continued to rely on the Steele information, without any revisions or notice to the court that the Primary Sub-source had contradicted the Steele reporting on key issues described in the renewal applications. Instead, as described previously, FISA Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 advised the court:

In an effort to further corroborate [Steele’s] reporting, the FBI has met with [Steele’s] [redacted] sub-source [Primary Sub-source] described immediately above. During these interviews, the FBI found the [redacted] subsource to be truthful and cooperative [redacted]. The FBI is undertaking additional investigative steps to further corroborate the information provide [sic] by [Steele] and [redacted]

It cannot be the case that FBI at once ignored everything Danchenko said that should have raised concerns, but also that Danchenko’s repetition of the things he said in his first interview would be material to later parts of the investigation. There’s a 478-page report laying out why that’s not the case.

As to the Dolan tie, the FBI obtained intelligence that the reports that most mattered to the ongoing Russian investigation — the sketchy Cohen-in-Prague stories sourced to Olga Galkina, stories that may well have arisen because Dolan vouched for Galkina with Peskov — were disinformation a week before first speaking to Danchenko.

A January 12, 2017, report relayed information from [redacted] outlining an inaccuracy in a limited subset of Steele’s reporting about the activities of Michael Cohen. The [redacted] stated that it did not have high confidence in this subset of Steele’s reporting and assessed that the referenced subset was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations. A second report from the same [redacted] five days later stated that a person named in the limited subset of Steele’s reporting had denied representations in the reporting and the [redacted] assessed that the person’s denials were truthful.

As I have shown, Mueller did not use the Cohen reports at all in predicating the investigation against Trump’s lawyer.

Finally, the DOJ IG Report strongly suggests that the FBI was not going to get a fourth FISA targeting Page until they discovered two new facilities — probably one or more encrypted app and some financial accounts — they thought might answer some of their outstanding questions about Page.

[A]vailable documents indicate that one of the focuses of the Carter Page investigation at this time was obtaining his financial records. NYFO sought compulsory legal process in April 2017 for banking and financial records for Carter Page and his company, Global Energy Capital, as well as information relating to two encrypted online applications, one of which Page utilized on his cell phone. Documents reflect that agents also conducted multiple interviews of individuals associated with Carter Page.

Case Agent 6 told us, and documents reflect, that despite the ongoing investigation, the team did not expect to renew the Carter Page FISA before Renewal Application No. 2’s authority expired on June 30. Case Agent 6 said that the FISA collection the FBI had received during the second renewal period was not yielding any new information. The OGC Attorney told us that when the FBI was considering whether to seek further FISA authority following Renewal Application No. 2, the FISA was “starting to go dark.” During one of the March 2017 interviews, Page told Case Agent 1 and Case Agent 6 that he believed he was under surveillance and the agents did not believe continued surveillance would provide any relevant information. Cast Agent 6 said [redacted]

SSA 5 and SSA 2 said that further investigation yielded previously unknown locations that they believed could provide information of investigative value, and they decided to seek another renewal. Specifically, SSA 5 and Case Agent 6 told us, and documents reflect, that [redacted] they decided to seek a third renewal. [redacted]

This is yet another reason why nothing Danchenko could have said in his interviews would have changed the FBI’s actions.

That leaves the purported lies — the same alleged lies about Millian — told in October and November 2017 that Durham claims Danchenko had been telling all along. By that point, though, Mueller already had George Papadopoulos refusing to provide details pertaining to Millian that would have raised further questions about Millian’s activities in 2016.

Honestly, this post barely scratches the surface of problems with Durham’s Igor Danchenko case. Things get worse when you consider Oleg Deripaska’s role in the dossier and the very active investigation into him and more recent sanctions into Dmitry Peskov.

And, this time, Durham may realize that. Just weeks before the Sussmann trial, Durham made a frenzied effort to include details about the dossier and Millian in Sussmann’s case. For example, he got approved as exhibits and “accidentally” released Fusion GPS files entirely unrelated to the Sussmann case. He attempted, but failed, to make Christopher Steele a central issue at the Sussmann trial. And during the testimony of Jared Novick, he attempted to introduce the names of dossier subjects that were unrelated to the core Sussmann charge. That is, Durham expanded the scope of his already unhinged conspiracy theory to incorporate topics — most notably, the dossier — that he might otherwise present at the Danchenko trial.

In the next two weeks, Durham will — after over ten weeks of delay — have to face the challenges of obtaining the classified discovery that Danchenko can demand to prove this is the case. In light of those challenges, we’ll see whether Durham wants to barrel forward towards yet another humiliating loss at trial.

John Durham, Ask Not for Whom the Statute of Limitation Tolls …

As he did with Igor Danchenko, John Durham has raised a potential conflict as a way to air his conspiracy theories so he can jack up the frothy right. In this case, he describes an uncharged meeting at which Michael Sussmann, who no longer had anything to do with the DNC, shared an updated version of the Alfa Bank allegations with the CIA on February 9, 2017.

The Indictment further details that on February 9, 2017, the defendant provided an updated set of allegations – including the Russian Bank-1 data and additional allegations relating to Trump – to a second agency of the U.S. government (“Agency-2”). The Government’s evidence at trial will establish that these additional allegations relied, in part, on the purported DNS traffic that Tech Executive-1 and others had assembled pertaining to Trump Tower, Donald Trump’s New York City apartment building, the EOP, and the aforementioned healthcare provider. In his meeting with Agency-2, the defendant provided data which he claimed reflected purportedly suspicious DNS lookups by these entities of internet protocol (“IP”) addresses affiliated with a Russian mobile phone provider (“Russian Phone Provider-1”). The defendant further claimed that these lookups demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House and other locations. The Special Counsel’s Office has identified no support for these allegations. Indeed, more complete DNS data that the Special Counsel’s Office obtained from a company that assisted Tech Executive-1 in assembling these allegations reflects that such DNS lookups were far from rare in the United States. For example, the more complete data that Tech Executive-1 and his associates gathered – but did not provide to Agency-2 – reflected that between approximately 2014 and 2017, there were a total of more than 3 million lookups of Russian Phone-Provider-1 IP addresses that originated with U.S.-based IP addresses. Fewer than 1,000 of these lookups originated with IP addresses affiliated with Trump Tower. In addition, the more complete data assembled by Tech Executive-1 and his associates reflected that DNS lookups involving the EOP and Russian Phone Provider-1 began at least as early 2014 (i.e., during the Obama administration and years before Trump took office) – another fact which the allegations omitted.

The frothy right is very excited that, among the data that someone heavily involved in cybersecurity like Rodney Joffe would have ready access to, was data that included the White House. They seem less interested that, to disprove the allegations Sussmann presented, Durham effectively (in their frothy minds) conducted the same “spying” on EOP networks of President Obama that Durham insinuates Joffe did of Trump.

Remember: This meeting is not charged. It’s not clear such a meeting with the CIA could be charged. Durham presents zero evidence Sussmann knows anything about the comparative value of this data, either.

That’ll become important in a bit.

The conflicts Durham raises to justify this filing are a bit more interesting than the ones he raised with Danchenko. Latham Watkins used to represent Perkins Coie and Marc Elias in this matter, now they represent just Sussmann, and Elias will be asked to testify about instructions Sussmann got about billing records in his representation of the DNC. Latham represented the DNC. Latham represented Sussmann in December 2017 House Intelligence testimony that significantly undermines Durham’s indictment (and shows that the allegations at the core of this indictment originally came from Kash Patel, who by the time of trial may be charged for his participation in helping Trump attempt a coup). Latham also provided Perkins Coie advice regarding a PR statement that, Durham admits, he’s not been able to pierce the privilege of and he knows those who made the statement had no knowledge that could implicate the statement in a conspiracy. Somebody on Sussmann’s team used to work at the FBI and then worked for the White House. Those are the conflicts — more substantive than the ones Durham raised about Danchenko, but probably nothing that problematic.

Which makes the relative timing of this filing all the more interesting.

With Danchenko, Durham raised the potential conflict, first, at a status hearing less than two weeks after Stuart Sears filed a notice of appearance for Danchenko, and then again, in a filing two weeks after Sears filed, for a less pressing imagined conflict involving different lawyers in Sears’ firm.

With Sussmann, Durham waited for almost five months after indicting Sussmann to raise the conflict, even though all but one element of the imagined conflict would have been immediately apparent to Durham, not least that Latham had previously represented Elias.

That doesn’t seem to reflect any real burning concern about this conflict.

But, as noted, it did give Durham an excuse to float previously unreleased information that may not even come in at trial, given that it’ll have to be presented as 404(b) evidence and it, in fact, as presented, undermines the claim that Sussmann was hiding his ties to Hillary from the Federal government.

If the information doesn’t come in at trial, this may be Durham’s only chance to jack up the frothy right with it.

And that’s interesting because of the date of that CIA meeting: February 9, 2017, five years and two days before Durham filed this belated notice of a conflict.

As I keep noting, Durham is obviously trying to pull his fevered conspiracy theories into an actual charged conspiracy, one tying together the DNC, Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, and Hillary herself. If he succeeds, these flimsy charges (against both Sussmann and Danchenko) become stronger, but if he doesn’t, he’s going to have a harder time proving motive and materiality at trial.

After charging Sussmann on almost the last possible date before the statute of limitations expired for his claimed lie to the FBI, though, Durham would need something on which to hang a continuing conspiracy to be able to charge the others. One of those events could have been the PR statement issued in 2018, which Durham says is inaccurate.

Privilege logs and redacted emails obtained from Law Firm-1 in this investigation reflect that in the days before the issuance of these statements, Latham attorneys sent, received, and/or were copied on correspondence relating to the drafting and dissemination of the statements. (Much of the substance of those emails was redacted and withheld from the Special Counsel’s Office pursuant to Law Firm-1’s assertion of attorney-client privilege and attorney work product protections). Because the defendant was aware of and/or reviewed these media statements, the Government may seek to offer them as evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b) or other provisions of law to establish that the defendant sought to conceal the Clinton Campaign’s ties to the Russian Bank-1 allegations from the FBI and others.3

3 According to counsel for Law Firm-1, the attorneys at Law Firm-1 and Latham who participated in drafting and/or reviewing these statements were unaware at the time that the defendant had billed work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations to the Clinton Campaign.

Except, as laid out here, none of the Perkins Coie people involved in writing the statement knew how Sussmann had billed his time. And Durham hasn’t found a reason to otherwise pierce the privilege claims that went into the drafting of the statement.

So that’s probably not going to work to establish his continuing conspiracy.

The other event on which Durham might have hung a continuing conspiracy was that February 9 meeting. It involved updated work from Joffe, after all. And Durham claims Sussmann again deliberately hid who his client was rather than (as he now knows Sussmann did for tips from Jofffe that had nothing to do with Donald Trump) just shared a tip anonymously.

But instead of rolling out what Sussmann presented in that February 9 meeting five years and two days ago in a conspiracy indictment, Durham instead packaged it up in a filing pertaining to a potential conflict. This February 9 meeting, it appears, won’t be the hook on which Durham gets to charge a conspiracy.

I’m not saying that Durham won’t be able to pull together his grand conspiracy. He might next point to testimony in Congress (possibly Glenn Simpson’s) to claim that there was some grand cover-up of what he imagines was an attempt to smear Donald Trump. Except, as this filing admits, Sussmann’s sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee shows that when asked — by future coup investigative subject Kash Patel — Sussmann testified consistently with sharing this information on behalf of Joffe, which is what Sussmann’s currently operative story remains. Durham did suggest he thinks he can show Sussmannn misled members of Congress because he claims it was, “knowingly and intentionally misleading insofar as it failed to disclose that the defendant billed work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations to the Clinton Campaign,” except (as with the alleged lie more generally) that’s not what he was asked about.

By all means, John Durham, make Kash Patel a witness at your trial. Give Sussmann an opportunity to ask how Kash came to learn of this meeting in the first place, to say nothing about whether Kash has recently been involved in efforts to overthrow the US government.

Whatever Durham hopes to use to sustain the claim of a continuing conspiracy, this filing seems to concede that the lies Durham claims Sussmann told in that meeting that took place five years and a few days ago will not be charged.

Ask not for whom the statute of limitations toll, John Durham. They toll for you.

Hot and Cold Running John Durham Conspiracy Conspiracies

I’d like to congratulate Assistant [Durham] Special Counsel Michael Keilty. In what is close to a first from Durham’s team, he submitted a filing without obvious glaring errors (like the Criminal Information for Kevin Clinesmith that revealed the Durham team didn’t even know for what crime Carter Page had been investigated or their persistent cut-and-paste errors).

The filing is a motion for miscellaneous relief, asking Judge Anthony Trenga to require Igor Danchenko to waive any conflict he might have because his new defense attorneys, Danny Onorato and Stuart Sears, are at the same firm as (according to Josh Gerstein) Robert Trout, who is representing, “the 2016 “Hillary for America” presidential campaign (the “Clinton Campaign”), as well as multiple former employees of that campaign, in matters before the Special Counsel.”

The filing is entirely reasonable.

It simply asks that Judge Trenga inquire into the conflict presented by partners from the same firm representing multiple investigative Durham subjects and ensure that if Danchenko chooses to continue with Onorato and Sears as his attorneys, he does so waiving any potential conflict down the road.

Notwithstanding the potential conflicts involved, the government believes that this potential conflict is waivable, should the defendant so choose, assuming a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver is executed.

Based on the foregoing, the government respectfully requests that Court inquire into the conflict issues set forth herein.

It’s how Keilty gets there — as well as the Durham’s team uneven treatment of the connectivity of their investigation — that I find interesting. Remember: The Clinton campaign is referenced in Michael Sussmann’s indictment, though Durham already had to confess that the indictment overstated Sussmann’s contacts with members of the campaign.

But Durham’s effort to implicate the Hillary campaign in Danchenko’s actions is more of a stretch, going through Charles Dolan and entailing treating Hillary as a more dangerous adversary than Russian intelligence.

Again, the Paul Manafort report may be the most provably correct report in the entire dossier. Claiming (correctly) that Manafort was ousted not just because of his corrupt ties in Ukraine — a claim that Republicans have spent five years claiming was just a propaganda campaign launched by Democrats — but also because others wanted him out actually undercuts the story that has always claimed to be the most useful to Democrats. The report on Embassy staff changes was, Durham suggests, based directly off quotes Dolan got from the staffer in question; indeed, Durham points to the accuracy of those quotations to prove the report came from Dolan. There was a flourish added — that the person in question was untainted by involvement with the Russian election operation — which Danchenko disclaims, but there’s no evidence the flourish comes from Dolan (or even Danchenko — it’s the kind of thing Steele seems to have added). In other words, assuming Dolan was the source for the things Durham claims he was, Dolan seems to have been the most accurate source for the dossier.

There was an unbelievable amount of shit in the dossier and it would be useful if there were an accounting of how that happened (which Durham is not doing here). The Danchenko-to-Steele reporting process (which, contrary to Durham’s claims, Danchenko candidly laid out in his first interviews with the FBI) was one source of the problems with the dossier. But at least as much of the shit seems to come from Danchenko’s sources, several of whom had ties to Russian intelligence and who may have been deliberately injecting disinformation into the process. Instead of focusing on that — on Russians who may have been deliberately feeding lies into the process — Durham instead focuses on Dolan, not because Durham claims he wittingly shared bad information to harm Trump (his one lie served to boost an accurate story that went against the grain of the Democrats’ preferred narrative), but because as a Democrat he — not Russian spies — is being treated by Durham as an adversary.

Plus, at least as alleged in the Danchenko indictment, there’s no firsthand Hillary witness necessary to Danchenko’s conviction. The witnesses to Danchenko’s five alleged lies are all FBI personnel. The evidence against Danchenko regarding the four claimed lies about Sergei Millian involve Danchenko’s own emails and — !!! — the hearsay Twitter account of someone once and possibly still suspected of being a Russian agent. Dolan’s testimony about what he and Danchenko discussed six years ago at the Moscow Ritz will undoubtedly be of interest to the jury and still more interest to the frothy right, but not only is that not necessary to prove the single count claiming Danchenko lied about Dolan’s role in all this, it falls short of proof that Danchenko didn’t go from that lunch to speak to personnel at the Ritz himself.

Even though no one with a paid gig on the Hillary campaign is needed (or even, at least as charged, conceivably useful) as a witness against Danchenko, here’s how Keilty lays out the potential conflict.

As discussed above, the Clinton Campaign, through Law Firm-1 and U.S. Investigative Firm-1, commissioned and financed the Company Reports in an attempt to gather and disseminate derogatory information about Donald Trump. To that end, U.K. Person-1 relied primarily on the defendant to collect the information that ultimately formed the core of the allegations contained in the Company Reports. The Indictment alleges that certain statements that the defendant made to the FBI about information contained in the Company Reports, were knowingly and intentionally false. Thus, the interests of the Clinton Campaign and the defendant could potentially diverge in connection with any plea discussions, pre-trial proceedings, hearings, trial, and sentencing proceedings. Areas of inquiry that may become relevant to defense counsel’s representation of the defendant, and which also may become issues at trial or sentencing, include topics such as (1) the Clinton Campaign’s knowledge or lack of knowledge concerning the veracity of information in the Company Reports sourced by the defendant, (2) the Clinton Campaign’s awareness or lack of awareness of the defendant’s collection methods and sub-sources, (3) meetings or communications between and among the Clinton Campaign, U.S. Investigative Firm-1, and/or U.K. Person-1 regarding or involving the defendant, (4) the defendant’s knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding the Clinton Campaign’s role in and activities surrounding the Company Reports, and (5) the extent to which the Clinton Campaign and/or its representatives directed, solicited, or controlled the defendant’s activities. On each of these issues, the interests of the Clinton Campaign and the defendant might diverge. For example, the Clinton Campaign and the defendant each might have an incentive to shift blame and/or responsibility to the other party for any allegedly false information that was contained within the Company Reports and/or provided to the FBI. Moreover, it is possible that one of these parties might also seek to advance claims that they were harmed or defrauded by the other’s actions, statements, or representations. In addition, in the event that one or more former representatives of the Clinton Campaign (who are represented by defense counsel’s firm) are called to testify at any trial or other court proceeding, the defendant and any such witness would be represented by the same law firm, resulting in a potential conflict. Finally, it is also likely that defense counsel’s firm already has obtained privileged information from the Clinton Campaign regarding matters involving or relating to the defendant, the Company Reports, and the conduct alleged in the Indictment.

Some of this is the kind of fevered conspiracy theorizing that has fueled Durham for 950 days so far and sustains the Durham presumption that Hillary Clinton is a greater adversary to the United States than Russian intelligence operatives. None of it is contained within the existing indictment. It doesn’t envision as a possibility that this was all a clusterfuck better suited to a child’s game of telephone than the conspiracy Durham needs it to be. It also seems to forget that even if Danchenko lied to Christopher Steele, that would not amount to fraud on the Hillary campaign.

But it is a road map to what Durham is planning: an attempt to sic various participants in the 2016 efforts against each other such that they start entering cooperation agreements in which they spin up the grand conspiracy Durham is certain exists. It’s certainly sound prosecutorial strategy for Keilty to alert Judge Trenga that down the road they seek to pit all the subjects of their investigation against each other such that down the road, people who have never been alleged to have interacted with Danchenko personally might one day testify against him, all to support the claim that the Hillary campaign engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the FBI, DOJ, and DARPA funders.

But it raises questions about something that happened in the other active prosecution of the Durham investigation, Michael Sussmann’s. Based on court filings and what was said at a December 8 hearing in the Sussmann case, Durham has the following evidence about what Sussmann did or did not say:

  • A report written by Durham investigators, probably in conjunction with a 2017 leak investigation, in which “Durham or someone on his team questioned James Baker’s credibility.”
  • An October 3, 2018 Baker interview that conflicts with the indictment.
  • An October 18, 2018 Baker interview that conflicts with the indictment.
  • A July 15, 2019 Baker interview that conflicts with the indictment.
  • The first Durham interview with Baker on this subject, in June 2020, that conflicts with the indictment.
  • Three more Durham interviews with Baker on this subject that align with the indictment.
  • Grand jury testimony that must align with the indictment, but which had not been released to Sussmann’s cleared lawyers before the December 8 hearing.
  • Hearsay testimony from Bill Priestap that generally aligns with the indictment.
  • Hearsay testimony from another FBI witness that differs in some respects from Priestap’s and may or may not align with the indictment.
  • Testimony from two CIA witnesses at a different meeting that may or may not align with the indictment.
  • A report based on notes that have been destroyed, the final version of which differs somewhat from the indictment and may or may not align with it.
  • A draft (there seems to be some disagreement whether it is a memorandum to the file or emails) of that CIA report that reflects Sussmann mentioning a client — which therefore dramatically undermines the indictment.
  • At least one 302 reflecting an interview with Baker about another aspect of the Durham investigation.

Had Mueller believed it ethical to charge someone with evidence this contradictory — and I’m really not exaggerating when I say this — he had the goods to charge Trump with agreeing to give Russia sanctions relief in exchange for an impossibly lucrative real estate deal in Moscow. He could have charged Paul Manafort with trading $19 million in debt relief for the campaign strategy and help carving up Ukraine. He could have charged Roger Stone — and through him, Donald Trump — with entering into cooperation with the Russian hacking team before they spent September hacking Hillary’s analytics, for a still unexplained purpose.

This list of conflicting evidence that Durham has is a testament to the recklessness with which he has decided to pursue his own feverish conspiracy theories. It doesn’t mean he won’t get there. He might! It means he’s engaging in extraordinary conduct to get there.

It’s the last bullet I find particularly interesting. In the December 8 hearing, AUSA Andrew DeFilippis explained, “We did a meeting w/Mr. Baker in which we did not touch on charged conduct. We did not produce to defense.” That is, they’re withholding at least one 302 of a Durham interview in this investigation with Baker. Judge Christopher Cooper responded that he, “won’t disturb USG’s view that this is not discoverable.”

So on the one hand, Durham’s prosecutors are arguing that a conspiracy not yet charged creates conflicts for an Igor Danchenko indictment that doesn’t implicate any paid members of the Hillary campaign. But on the other hand, they’re arguing that the same investigation is sufficiently bracketed that they’re not required to provide Sussmann the records of what exposure Baker himself may have that might persuade him to change his story.

Sussmann’s attorney Sean Berkowitz observed that Baker had obviously changed his story. Durham’s team explains that’s because Baker refreshed his memory (though what we’ve seen of the contemporary records suggest there are two possible readings of them). But Sussmann could well argue that, because of criminal exposure himself, Baker changed his story to reflect what Durham wanted it to be.

As I have said, repeatedly, Durham needs Sussmann to have lied to have any hope of building this conspiracy case, and if he fails, each of the parts are far weaker.

And while claiming the conspiracy case he has not yet charged creates already existing conflicts, he’s still going to withhold the evidence of the conspiracy he’s trying to create.