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A key source for the infamous Trump-Russia dossier is charged with lying to the FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation building in Washington, D.C., is pictured in 2018. A Russian analyst has been charged with lying to the FBI as part of a special counsel investigation into the Trump-Russia probe.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation building in Washington, D.C., is pictured in 2018. A Russian analyst has been charged with lying to the FBI as part of a special counsel investigation into the Trump-Russia probe.

Updated November 4, 2021 at 1:07 PM ET

A Russian national who was a key source of information used in the 2016 dossier of allegations about Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia has been arrested and indicted on accusations that he lied to the FBI.

Igor Danchenko was taken into custody Thursday morning as part of special counsel John Durham's investigation into the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia probe. Danchenko has been charged with five counts of making false statements.

The 43-year-old was a primary source of information for the so-called Steele dossier, a collection of reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. The dossier contained salacious claims about then-candidate Trump as well as allegations that people within Trump's orbit were conspiring with Russia to win the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Steele provided the information he had collected to the FBI during the 2016 campaign. The bureau later used some of the information in the dossier to get surveillance on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

The FBI interviewed Danchenko several times in 2017 about the information he had provided Steele. According to the indictment, Danchenko lied to the FBI in those interviews about his sources.

It says that in one instance, Danchenko told the FBI he received an anonymous phone call in July 2016 from someone he believed to be the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, who informed him about a "conspiracy of cooperation" between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A version of that information ended up in the dossier, prosecutors say.

But the indictment says Danchenko was lying. It says he "never received such a phone call or such information from any person he believed to the Chamber President."

These lies matter, prosecutors say, because the FBI relied in part on the dossier to get surveillance on Page and because the FBI devoted resources to try to corroborate the information.

The Steele dossier grabbed the nation's attention after BuzzFeed published it in January 2017. But the document did not factor into the FBI's decision to open its Trump-Russia probe in July 2016, an investigation that Robert Mueller took over almost a year later.

Trump repeatedly lashed out at the investigation, calling it a witch hunt.

In May 2019, a few weeks after Mueller submitted his final report, then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham to look into the FBI's Trump-Russia probe to determine whether there was any wrongdoing.

So far, Danchenko is the third person to face charges as part of Durham's work.

In September, Durham unveiled charges against a Washington lawyer with close ties to the Democratic Party, saying he lied to the FBI. The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, has pleaded not guilty.

In addition, Kevin Clinesmith, a low-level FBI attorney, pleaded guilty to doctoring an email.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.