Igor Danchenko — the analyst who was the lead researcher on the infamous Steele dossier that made outlandish claims about then-President Elect Donald Trump, including the allegation that a tape existed of him with urinating hookers in a Russian hotel room — was arrested Thursday by federal authorities, The New York Times reported.
Danchenko is a Russia analyst who reported in the Steele dossier the infamous pee tape claim that Trump asked “a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him,” although no evidence has been revealed to back that claim up. Trump denies the allegation. Danchenko was arrested as part of a special counsel inquiry being led by John H. Durham, who is looking into whether there was any wrongdoing in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. The charges against Danchenko are not yet known but are expected to be unsealed sometime on Thursday, according to The Washington Post, which spoke with people familiar with the matter.
Federal agents interviewed Danchenko in 2017 when trying to verify certain claims made in the Steele dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele with information from Danchenko. According to the Times, the Danchenko interview led the agents to believe that parts of the dossier were misleading and included more speculation than was originally suggested.
A Dec. 2019 report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into the FBI’s use of the Steele dossier to justify, for example, a FISA warrant against Trump adviser Carter Page, said the agency was wrong to keep citing information from the dossier after the Danchenko interview. The DOJ has since said it did not have probable cause to believe Page was working on behalf of a foreign power when it moved to surveil him. The IG’s report also revealed that between 2005 and 2010, while he was working at the Brookings Institute, a D.C. think tank, investigators looked into whether Danchenko was an agent of the Russian government. According to the Times, Durham has subpoenaed his Brookings personnel files as part of his investigation.
“I’ve never been a Russian agent,” Danchenko, who was born in Russia, told the Times in 2020. “It is ridiculous to suggest that. This, I think, it’s slander.”
In September, Durham’s investigation indicted Michael Sussmann, a D.C. attorney, for making a false statement to the FBI in 2016 when he claimed there was an alleged secret channel of communications between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. The FBI determined that insufficient evidence existed to support the allegation.