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The Department of Justice is set to produce a “large volume” of classified materials and documents this week pertaining to the ‘Russiagate’ case involving the main source for former British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier that attempted to sabotage then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy and subsequent presidency.
That’s according to special counsel John Durham, who made the revelation in a Tuesday filing in which he also asked a federal judge to extend a deadline for the production of classified discovery, in compliance with the Classified Information Procedures Act, a statute outlining the manner in which classified documents must be protected in criminal cases.
Durham said he needs more time due to agency personnel currently being involved in issues that relate to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
“To date, the government has produced over 60,000 documents in unclassified discovery. A portion of these documents were originally marked ‘classified’ and the government has worked with the appropriate declassification authorities to produce the documents in an unclassified format,” Durham said in the filing submitted to the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia.
“However, recent world events in Ukraine have contributed to delays in the production of classified discovery. The officials preparing and reviewing the documents at the FBI and intelligence agencies are heavily engaged in matters related to Ukraine,” Durham added.
“Nevertheless, the government will produce a large volume of classified discovery this week and will continue its efforts to produce documents in classified discovery on a rolling basis, and no later than the proposed deadlines set forth below,” Durham wrote.
The Washington Examiner adds:
The case revolves around Igor Danchenko, a Russian researcher based in the United States, who was charged in November with five counts of making false statements to the FBI in 2017 about the information he provided to Steele for his discredited dossier during the 2016 election.
Danchenko, who has pleaded not guilty, signed a waiver in December agreeing to be defended by the same law firm representing members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign despite a conflict of interest concerns raised by Durham.
Steele was working for Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, before, during, and after his time targeting then-candidate Donald Trump. The former MI6 agent was hired to put his anti-Trump dossier together by an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, which was simultaneously working for Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya of the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. His research received funding from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Danchenko allegedly relied on a network of Russian contacts, undermined key Trump-Russia collusion claims when interviewed by the FBI, and had previously been investigated as a possible threat to national security due to potential Russian intelligence contacts.
According to Durham’s false statements charges, he anonymously sourced a claim about Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to longtime Clinton ally Chuck Dolan, who spent many years, including 2016, doing work for Russian businesses and the Russian government.
In a report released in December 2019, Justice Dept. Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the Steele dossier played a “central and essential” role in the FBI’s decision to launch a counterintelligence operation against the 2016 Trump campaign.
That included efforts to obtain wiretap orders against former Trump campaign associate Carter Page — efforts that were ultimately successful, but only after “serious missteps and errors” which included concealing “potentially exculpatory information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” the Washington Examiner reported.
In addition, Horowitz also said that Danchenko undermined Steele’s unfounded claims of a “well-developed conspiracy” between Trump and Russia, though as recently as this month, Steele continues to defend his now-discredited dossier.
He appeared at a discussion at Oxford Union last week, which followed an appearance as a Russian analyst on the BBC days earlier.