A Russian analyst who gathered information for the so-called Steele dossier alleging potential ties between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia has been charged with lying to U.S. federal investigators.
A grand jury indictment unsealed in a federal court in Virginia on November 4 charged Igor Danchenko with five counts of false statements when he was questioned by FBI agents about the dossier, which turned out to be Democratic-funded opposition research.
Danchenko, who lives in the United States and previously worked for the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, was set to appear in court later in the day.
The case was brought as part of an investigation led by Special Counsel John Durham, who was appointed by Trump to probe the origins of the FBI's probe into ties between Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign.
Danchenko was the primary researcher for Christopher Steele, a former British spy who prepared the dossier for Fusion GPS, which was working for a law firm that represented the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
Some of the research Danchenko compiled was provided to the FBI and used to receive surveillance warrants targeting a former Trump campaign aide.
The dossier is filled with rumors, third-hand sourcing, and unproven assertions that Trump himself was compromised and his campaign conspired with Russian intelligence to undermine Clinton’s presidential bid.
Over time, the FBI investigated the dossier’s claims but was unable to confirm or corroborate most of its allegations, according to the indictment.
Danchenko has previously suggested that the information he offered to Steele was not meant to be portrayed as indisputable fact, and that he was not responsible for how Steele made the information public.
“Even raw intelligence from credible sources, I take it with a grain of salt,” Danchenko told The New York Times last year. “Who knows, what if it’s not particularly accurate? Is it just a rumor or is there more to it?”
Danchenko, who previously wrote a report indicating that Russian President Vladimir Putin plagiarized his dissertation, has repeatedly denied suggestions that he was a Russian agent.
An investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately found Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but did not find sufficient evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.