John Durham’s investigation into the Trump-Russia probe enters its final phase

Durham Attorney General Andrew DeFilippis — who led the group’s case against a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer earlier this year that ended in a swift acquittal — was supposed to handle another trial next month, but he’s leaving the Justice Department for a job. a private law firm, according to sources. At one point in recent months, DeFilippis was writing a report on Durham’s findings that will be sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The trial of a Russian expatriate who was a key source of information in the Trump-Russia dossier is set to begin next month in Alexandria, Virginia. But four weeks before the trial, Durham’s case suffered a major blow as prosecutors admitted in recent court appearances that they are unable to persuade a critical witness to return to the US to testify.

The October trial of dossier source Igor Danchenko will be the third and likely final case in Durham’s wide-ranging investigation, which began in early 2019 and has since followed efforts to investigate Democratic opposition to Trump’s 2016 campaign. (Danchenko pleaded not guilty.)

The federal grand jury that Durham used for his investigation has also expired, and there are no plans to revive that type of investigative work, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Durham has not charged anyone since indicting Danchenko in November. After the Danchenko trial, Durham’s office is likely to be closed, and the report is set to be delivered to the Justice Department before the end of the year, sources said.
Senior Justice Department officials will decide how much, if anything, to make public. Garland has previously said she wants to release “as much as possible.”

The Justice Department declined to comment for this story. DeFilippis and his new law firm did not respond to requests for comment. Some defense attorneys who have faced the special counsel’s office investigation also declined to comment, especially given that Durham’s report is not yet public.

Drilling far from expectations

In all, Durham has indicted just three people: Danchenko, exonerated Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, and a low-level FBI lawyer named Kevin Clinesmith, who avoided prison by pleading guilty in 2020 to recovering an email used by his agency in 2017. Protecting custody of a former Trump campaign aide.
There are reports that Durham’s team has also looked into several other issues that former President Donald Trump has publicly complained about, without any charges being filed. It includes potential wrongdoing by the CIA and other parts of the US intelligence community in matters related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election for Trump.

As special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his investigation into Russian election meddling in early 2019, then-Attorney General William Barr visited Durham to review the same FBI Russia investigation. The Durham inquiry has now extended beyond the underlying Trump-Russia investigation.

Barr elevated Durham to “special counsel” status shortly before the 2020 election, making it more difficult politically if the Justice Department, led by Biden, wanted to shut down Durham’s team. Garland has stopped following Durham, amid complaints from liberal commentators and Durham’s goals that he is twisting the law to push a pro-Trump political agenda.

Since Durham became special counsel, his office has not charged government officials with any crimes. And even if Durham wanted to try new cases, the five-year deadline appears to have passed for federal investigators to bring most criminal charges, particularly related to the surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page.

Durham’s group has spent nearly $4.5 million since October 2020, according to financial data released by the Department of Justice. The cost of Durham’s first year and a half on the job, when he was U.S. attorney and not a special counsel, has not been disclosed.

These results from Durham’s three-year poll are below the lofty expectations Trump has publicly set. He has long treated the probe as a political weapon, fueling excitement in the right-wing ecosystem that Durham will deliver Watergate-caliber indictments against Clinton loyalists, senior Obama administration officials and the “deep state.”

In interviews, Trump has said that Durham will experience the “crime of the century.” Last month, Trump said Durham’s report would expose “corruption like we’ve never seen in our country.”

The Danchenko case takes a hit because witnesses refuse to testify

The trial against the Durham group is ultimately a trial against Danchenko. He has pleaded guilty to five counts of lying to the FBI about the Trump-Russia dossier, also known as the Steele dossier, named after its author, retired British spy Christopher Steele.

Danchenko contributed heavily to the now-underrated Steele dossier, which contained gossip, rumors and allegations about Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russian government. Steele said the dossier was “raw intelligence” that needed further examination, although many of the key claims have been dropped in the five years since it broke public.

The indictment accuses Danchenko of lying to the FBI about his dealings with Sergei Millian, an enigmatic Belarusian-American businessman who once did some real estate work with the Trump Organization, who one alleged was in contact with Trump associates during the 2016 campaign. Bipartisan Senate panel likely to be Russian spy. (He denies this accusation.)

Any successful prosecution of Danchenko would be fueled by the testimony of Millian, who has publicly stated that she never met or communicated with Danchenko. However, Durham’s team said Millian is currently overseas and is unwilling to cooperate because he “doesn’t trust the FBI and is afraid of being arrested if he returns to the US.”

“Despite their best efforts, the Government’s attempts to secure Millian’s voluntary testimony have been unsuccessful,” prosecutors acknowledged in a recent filing, adding that they cannot issue a subpoena because Millian’s attorney said he “does not know Millian’s address.” .”

Danchenko’s alleged lies occurred during voluntary interviews with the FBI during 2017, as federal investigators scrambled to verify details of the dossier.

According to the indictment, Danchenko falsely told the FBI that he believed he spoke to Millian by phone in July 2016, and that Millian told him the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russian government to win the 2016 election. Danchenko later made similar accusations to Steele, who put those claims into a dossier, which he later turned over to the FBI.

Durham said Danchenko “fabricated these facts about Millie.”

Danchenko’s attorneys did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. Danchenko says he was always honest with the FBI and was trying to help the US government in its investigation into Russian election meddling. He asked District Judge Anthony Trenga to dismiss the case, saying the evidence was too weak to proceed. The judge has not yet ruled on that request.