Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Update 1: The Justice League: Igor Danchenko Trial - NOTES - October 11, 2022

The following trial notes are from the Telegram account "The Justice League".

Update 1: Toria Brooke has published her trial notes and I am adding a link to her web page for the the other 4 days of the trial at the bottom of this post.  -Terran

October 11, 2022

The Justice League: 

United States of America v. Igor Danchenko: Day 1 #FWK

For immediate information: The Jury selection is complete. Out of a very large pool, 12 jurors were selected and 4 were selected as alternates. Unlike the last few trials, the process at this courthouse is different. They do not have each potential juror come up to the stand and question them. Instead, they call the jurors to the box and then both parties review their information and decide whether to strike or confirm. To describe the pool, purely off of visual representation: half of the pool were millennial to older white individuals. The other half were African American, Indian American, and other nationalities.

Durham dons a signature patterned red silk tie. His team entered the courtroom first, followed by Danchenko’s. At the beginning of the day, Durham addressed that the witness list was to be unsealed. The witness list has effectively been unsealed.

Durham addressed the motion in limine regarding Danchenko’s failure to provide certain documents. The question is raised as to whether the scope of testament would be dismissible. Government Exhibit 109 is a series of articles ranging from May 2016 to August 2016. Defense attorney, Stuart Sears, argues that the information in these articles was publicly available and raises the issue of relevance. If the articles are relevant, agrees to admit them into evidence. Sears also brings up the Amtrak records from July 25-28th which the government obtained; the Amtrak records prove that Danchenko was in New York. On July 28, 2016, Danchenko sent a Facebook message to his then-wife of giraffes at the Zoo in New York coupled with a message reading: "Another meeting tonight."

On July 26, there was an exchange involving Sergei Milian.

Judge Trenga cuts the discussions short and asks if either party would want to strike any potential juror for cause based on the questionnaire they received. Defense attorney Sears objects to one juror who has a long-standing political history. Special Counsel John Durham wishes to strike a potential juror for cause who verbatim said she, "Holds bias against Donald Trump which impacts [my] decision making. Durham also wished to strike someone who indicated that she’d have a hard time staying off of social media. Both parties agreed that their opening statements would take between 25-30 minutes each.

Special Counsel John Durham raises the issue of testimony with respect to counterintelligence. Judge Trenga says the court has already made a preliminary ruling. Durham states that a previous investigation on Danchenko was closed due to the defendant’s departure from the country; Durham insists that this investigation was unresolved. Sears counters that the issue was resolved and that the investigation occurred 10 years prior to the current allegations. Durham insists that the government went to introduce the previous allegations because it brings relevant information to the floor since Igor was Christopher Steele’s sub source for the Steele dossier. Durham describes the prior investigation—it was opened in 2009 and closed in September of 2010. In January of 2017, the FBI interviewed Danchenko regarding the Trump campaign.

Special Counsel John Durham brings up Exhibit 109 and the Steele dossier report. Questions are raises as to which portions of the report should be admitted. In the report, the date of August 29, 2016 is referenced and it notes a "separate source with direct knowledge." There’s a bullet that associates Trump with the Kremlin (Putin). Durham discusses plausible deniability. There are portions of the report that cite Wikileaks. The government is agreeable to redact portions of the summary that are irrelevant or inappropriate.

QUICK INFO 🚨 En route home. Will update once I can transcribe. Special Counsel John Durham ended the day examining first witness, FBI analyst and supervisor Brian Auten, however he feels he needs about 90 minutes more. We will begin again tomorrow morning at 9 AM. #DanchenkoTrial

Continuing where I left off posting before lunch; the following text was noted prior to our lunch break but I did not have time to type it:

In reference to mentions of Wikileaks in the report, this is all related to "Source E."

Defense attorney Sears laments that this is a "recurring problem" that the government is trying to argue that Danchenko obtained all of his information from Source E; the information *may or may not* have come from Sergei Milian and defense is suggesting that the government is purporting a "false impression" from phone calls the government argues Danchenko "never had."

Durham’s rebuttal: "Judge, you can read in the report that Danchenko said he had numerous calls with Sergei Milian." Durham asserts that it’s quite clear and admissible. The prosecution references evidences that, "leaves little doubt" that the information in this report was attributed by Danchenko to Mr. Milian.

The government wants to address the motion in limine regarding email evidence in this case: communications (1st set) between Danchenko and Sergei Milian and (2nd set) between Danchenko and Charles Dolan, Jr. Government also brings up the January 2017 interview between FBI employees and Danchenko. It was abundantly clear that these two FBI agents were asking and seeking any and all Danchenko had regarding the Steele dossier. Government argues it’s absolutely clear that Igor knew what he was being asked to provide.

Judge Trenga: This [evidence] relates to Milian but does it relate to Charles Dolan as well?

The prosecution brings up August 19-August 20, 2016 communications that Danchenko had with Charles Dolan. Durham says that evidence will relate to the Dolan emails. The FBI made it clear they were looking for information on sources of the Steele dossier.

Durham references June 15, 2017 for context regarding Charles Dolan’s relation to Crossfire Hurricane. "Crossfire Hurricane divergent to Mueller. They asked [FBI agent [Helsan?]] if he knew Charles Dolan." Prosecution insists Igor knew Dolan and did have communications, however he did not turn over these communications; Durham says the emails became a matter of whether "Danchenko was being truthful or not."

Defense attorney Sears is concerned the jury will convict Igor for what he didn’t provide, not what he did provide. Defense argues Danchenko was not asked for these communications and that this context is unfair. Sears admits the emails are relevant but they’re concerned that the jury will see that Danchenko did not hand over communications and find him guilty on THIS, not on his alleged false statement to the FBI.

Durham says the government does not intend to use this evidence to argue in the latter manner that Sears described. Durham insists the evidence will be used to prove that Danchenko knowingly and willingly made false statements to the FBI. The prosecution then informs the court that they received emails at 12:01 AM last night (or early this morning, October 11, 2022). These emails were in Russian; allegedly between Sidorov(?) and Sergei Milian. Durham requests that before they’re used in any way as an exhibit or in cross examination, there ought to be some basis established on the record.

Defense responds that the information proffered is an issue of materiality; suggests that none of it is to prove there is truth for issues. Judge Trenga says he will rule on the counterintelligence issue before opening statements.

After being moved into an overflow room where we watched the main courtroom being broadcast on a TV screen, the jury pool entered the courtroom and jury selection began. Jury selection was completed in the morning session, as I wrote earlier. I will write the next portion beginning with opening statements.

Returning from lunch; it’s 1 PM. Court is back in session.

Judge Trenga brings the jury in. Trenga instructs: "An indictment is simply a charge; Danchenko contends that he is not guilty. The government must prove the crime charged counts (1-5) including: Danchenko made a false or fictitious statement to the FBI, in making the statement, Danchenko was willful. His statements were made within the jurisdiction of the executive branch, and his statement was material to the FBI, meaning it had the natural tendency to influence."

Government Opening Statement:

Michael Keilty opens. "This is a false statement case that Danchenko told to the FBI about [alleged] Russia collusion which the FBI would use in investigating alleged wiretaps. Christopher Steele’s report alleged that Trump and his campaign were communicating with Russians. Danchenko’s lies played a role in the surveillance against an American citizen, [Carter Page].

The evidence will show that Danchenko was the primary source for the Steele dossier. Instead of telling the FBI the truth, he lied by fabricating a source and concealing a source. He claims he had a phone call that he believed was Sergei Milian; despite having no contact. He claimed Sergei said that Trump’s campaign and Russian officials were communicating. These lies ended up in a surveillance warrant against a U.S. citizen., which was signed by a federal judge. Danchenko was Christopher Steele’s primary source. In January 2017, the FBI interviewed Danchenko; he was provided with an immunity agreement. The only requirement of this agreement was that Danchenko (1) tell the truth, (2) not withhold information, and (3) not protect anyone in his interview. To note: Danchenko spoke excellent English.

The FBI’s goal was to identify the defendant’s sources for the Steele dossier and corroborate or refute the information in the dossier. One item in particular, Source E, ended up in four surveillance warrants against a U.S. citizen. The defendant told the FBI he reached out to Milian on two different occasions. Despite getting no response, Danchenko claimed that he received a 10-15 minute phone call in July of 2016 from an anonymous Russian male, who Danchenko claimed was Sergei Milian. The government will prove there was never a call.

Milian allegedly told Danchenko that Paul Manafort and Carter Page were involved in this "[scheme]," and that the Kremlin (Vladimir Putin) would help get Trump elected. During this purported call with Sergei Milian occurred in late July of 2016. Danchenko was paid by the FBI to provide information. Danchenko repeated these lies [multiple times]: he never received a call from Sergei Milian, never received a 10-15 minute call from an anonymous caller.

Between July and August 2016, emails and phone records will show that Danchenko never received a call from Sergei Milian nor did the 10-15 minute call from an anonymous individual in late July of 2016 ever occur. FBI agent [Helsan(?)], the "handling agent," conducted interviews with Danchenko. FBI agent James will show when Danchenko wanted someone to call them he’d tell them exactly which phone app to use.

The information that Danchenko lied about led to a surveillance warrant against Carter Page. FISA, which stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, is the exact term. Using this tool, the FBI can monitor calls and emails in real time of individuals who are believed to work for foreign governments. Mr. Page was never charged with any crime. The FBI has an obligation to inform the court of anything that may be wrong or misrepresented in FISA warrants. The government and the FBI surveilled Carter Page for nearly a year. Danchenko’s lies about Milian affected counts 2-5 of the indictment. On June 15, 2017, Danchenko concealed the source of his info and denied speaking to Charles Dolan. However, his communications tell another story. On August 19, 2026, Danchenko asked Dolan to give him anything he had on Paul Manafort. Then the info that Dolan provided ended up in Steele’s report two days latter.

Why was Danchenko’s lie about Charles Dolan important? Dolan was the only current U.S.-based source of the Steele dossier. On June 15, 2017, Danchenko lied to FBI special agent Helsan and said that he did not speak to Dolan about anything specific that was in the dossier. However, on two separate occasions in June and October of 2016, Charles Dolan was with Danchenko in Moscow. Dolan maintained a relationship with many Russian officials while he worked in public relations as a longtime DNC operative, from Jimmy Carter’s administration to the present day.

You will hear testimony from four FBI agents. What were Dolan’s connections for the dossier? FBI employee Brittany [Herzog(?)] who prepared a lengthy report, Danchenko and Dolan’s connections with Russian sources, Kevin Helsan, his handling agent. The FBI never interviewed Charles Dolan despite Helsan wanting to interview Dolan.

The FBI relies on human sources, and when they lie it affects the investigation. The FBI should have taken certain actions but they also may have covered up the defendants lies. The jury [must decide] whether Danchenko lied to the FBI and whether those lies were protected.


Defense Opening Statement

Defense attorney Danny Onorato insists Danchenko is not guilty and did not lie to the FBI. They say the government has no evidence to argue their case. Danchenko worked as a business analyst for Christopher Steele, and in November 2016 he gave this info to Steele. Danchenko met with the FBI and voluntarily provided information. In reference to Government Exhibit 118, the immunity letter, the defense accuses the government of lying regarding what was stated in immunity.

Onorato says Danchenko told Agent Helsan that he had not spoken to Dolan about anything specific in the Steele dossier. The defense says that the government claims Danchenko’s phone records don’t indicate that he received a phone call from Sergei Milian, but asserts the government did not check phone apps. In relation to Crossfire Hurricane, prior to July 2016, the FBI was contacted by a "friendly foreign" contact regarding a high level person in the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos. In December of 2016, the FBI found out that Danchenko had talked to Christopher Steele. The defense argues that anything that occurred between August 2016 and January 2017 had nothing to do with Danchenko, arguing he cooperated extensively as a confidential human source. Prior to Danchenko’s interviews with the FBI (January 24-26, 2017) the Steele dossier was published to Buzzfeed on January 10, 2017. Onorato claims that the FBI agents never asked Danchenko a single question about Report 105, which is all about Charles Dolan; the defense asks, so how is this relevant?

In May of 2016, the defense asserts that Russian journalists and Danchenko had a conversation that led Danchenko to be in communication with Sergei Milian. July 21, 2016, Danchenko allegedly emailed Milian. Defense says the government has to prove that the phone call(s) later on did not occur on phone apps. Danchenko told the FBI he traveled to NYC with his daughter on July 26, 2016. Milian reportedly agreed to meet but did not show up. Defense says Danchenko tried to make a real estate deal with Milian that never came to fruition. Onorato asserts that Danchenko drew common sense conclusions based on facts and conveyed this to FBI agent Helsan. The defense says FBI Supervisor Brian Auten is going to say Danchenko didn’t lie based on his discussions about the defendant. Agent Helsan reportedly held a "basic, rudimentary conversation" with Danchenko about Charles Dolan.

The defense says that the Special Counsel "came up with" a "written email exchange" from August 2016. Onorato makes sure to mention that on August 12, 2019, FBI Agent Helsan wrote: "Danchenko’s reporting will have serious national security implications."


Durham says: "For the defense to tell the jury that the government lied is inappropriate because it’s untrue."

After reviewing the letter, Judge Trenga says that the government did in fact not lie about the letter. Durham requests that the defense inserts note that the government did not lie about the immunity letter. Judge Trenga clarifies that Danchenko does not have transactional immunity he has "use immunity."

As a side note, the government questions that in the defense’s opening statement, they said Danchenko "made contributions to his country."

Judge Trenga provides clarification to the jury on the defense’s statement regarding the immunity letter. Trenga instructs the jury that the immunity agreement does not provide total immunity; it only provides immunity from any prosecution from information Danchenko provided (assuming he was telling the truth).

The first witness is called to the stand. Brian James Auten, FBI supervisor intelligence analyst. He worked as a line analyst between 2005-2015 prior to becoming supervisor in January 2015. FBI intelligence analysts provide a supporting role to agents in the field and work through the case information. Between July and August of 2016, Auten worked in the counterintelligence division of the FBI. Crossfire Hurricane was formally opened in August 2016; Auten was asked to lead analysts in the investigation (CH). Auten also worked with Jonathan Moffa, Joe Pientka, Peter Strzok, Bill Priestap, and Andrew McCabe. Crossfire Hurricane, according to Auten, was an umbrella investigation opener on materiality with a number of sub-investigations. Note: Auten says that the FBI received communication from a "friendly foreign government" that provided info that the Trump team allegedly received suggestion that working with Russia would greatly damage Hillary Clinton. Crossfire Hurricane’s umbrella investigations include Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. Auten led analysts who were working with agents on this case. The 3 levels of investigation are: (1) threat assessment, (2) preliminary investigations, and (3) full investigations. The Page, Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Flynn investigations were all full investigations. In full investigations specifically, the Bureau has separate tools that are available to use that cannot be used in preliminary investigations, one of which is a FISA. Auten states that a FISA warrant is one of the most powerful tools that the FBI has. The FBI has to determine probable cause to use a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant. Auten supervised analysts who were looking at the Carter Page investigation and read the notes involved. He says that there were discussions early on trying to get a FISA warrant for Carter Page; they tried to get one for George Papadopoulos but could not. Auten does not recall FISA discussions for Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn. Prior to September 19, 2016, the day that Crossfire Hurricane received the Steele dossier, the FBI was unable to successfully obtain a FISA warrant for page. Durham is on fire at this point during his examination of Auten. On September 19, 2016, CH received some of the reports collectively known as the Steele dossier, the reports that originated from the FBI via Christopher Steele’s organization in the U.K., Orbis Business Intelligence, which typically performed a number of tasks with respect to analysis and legal work for banks. According to Auten, Mike Gaita received reports of the Steele dossier in Rome prior to the FBI via Christopher Steele. Auten says that some reports came to the FBI after September 19, 2016; some reports came in from journalists. Auten’s analysts helped gather material and language for application.

After September 19, 2016, the FBI submitted the FISA warrant application.

Durham asks (between September 19, 2016 and October 21, 2016): "What efforts was [Auten] aware of by the FBI to corroborate these reports to support the FISA on a U.S. Citizen?" Durham continues to ask if Auten’s team inquired with other intelligence community analysts whether this information could be corroborative?

Auten says: "They did not corroborate these specific allegations." However, Auten, Steve Soma, and other agents would interview Christopher Steele. In the October 2016 meeting with Steele, Auten asked about his sources and sought to find corroborative information. According to Auten, Steele did not provide corroborative evidence for these allegations.

🚨 Durham: "Did they provide Steele with an incentive to provide that information?"

Conversation under seal. [probably a side bar judge/lawyer discussion with white noise -Terran]

Durham repeats the question.

Auten: "Yes, they did. The FBI offered Steele up to $1 million for any evidence to prove the allegations." Steele reportedly did not provide further corroborative evidence beyond what was in the report (after the $1 million).

Auten says there was continued concern for himself and his colleagues beyond October 2016 in regards to the sourcing of the Steele dossier. The names of the sources, according to Auten, were not provided. After the early October 2016 FBI meeting with Steele, Auten and colleagues attempted to identify all possible sources. In December 2016, they determined that one individual was talking to all the other individuals about the report. Auten says that yes, the name Sergei Milian did come up prior to the FBI talking to Mr. Steele. Charles Dolan, Steve Kupka(?), and Greg Harley mentioned.

Auten is looking at Government Exhibit 109. There are two versions. He is looking at the 2016/095 version but is familiar with both. Durham asks if this report contains information subsequently taken and used in the October 21, 2016 application for the FISA warrant. Auten says yes. The FBI discussed these but reportedly did not show to Danchenko. Durham asks if Danchenko had his own copy of the Steele dossier during his January 2017 interview with the FBI. Auten confirms Danchenko had his own copy "with marks on it." Judge reserves to show this exhibit and says, "I don’t think we’re there yet with this witness."

Conversation under seal.

Durham presents Government Exhibit 109 (A) to Auten it’s the Company Report 2016/095, redacted copy. Auten agrees that this report contains information the FBI used in the FISA warrant application for Carter Page on October 21, 2016. The documents on the screen look like big black boxes; that’s how much is redacted. The report alleges extensive conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin. Remember: In July 2016, Source E asserted that there was a "well-developed conspiracy" involving Trump and Paul Manafort allegedly using Carter Page under the understanding that their alleged plot with Russians was catalyzed but knowledge of Hillary Clinton "fearing" Vladimir Putin. In October 2016, Milian’s name was familiar to Auten as well as the FBI. According to Auten’s understanding, Milian was a Trump supporter and Bureau informant. No charges were brought against Milian. It’s also Auten’s understanding that Milian resides outside of the U.S. Auten notes that he was unaware of anyone other than Danchenko saying that Milian was involved.

Government Exhibit 1205, the verified FISA application, with redacted sections, is admitted into evidence. Within its pages, there’s a section that, paraphrased, reads: "According to sub source [redacted] there was a well-coordinated conspiracy between candidate 1. . . Sub source [redacted] says that Carter Page is involved." There were three subsequent FISA apps following the initial October 21, 2016 warrant for Carter Page: January 12, 2017, April 7, 2017, and June 29, 2017.

Government Exhibits 1206, 1207, and 1208 show the aforementioned FISA warrant date information as well as the specific pages wherein the same dossier information as the first was included. Respectively: (January, pages 21-22; April, pages 22-23; June, page 24). Government moves these three (redacted) exhibits into evidence. The first page of these exhibits is so redacted it looks like a TV screen.

Durham asks if after the FISA app was submitted on October 21, 2016 for Carter Page, up until June 29, 2017, was Auten aware of active efforts by the FBI to corroborate this information? Auten said yes—investigative steps and analysis—some of which "bore fruit." Auten said he was personally able to identify the primary source for the Steele dossier.

Auten: "It was Mr. Danchenko."

More discussion followed by conversation under seal.

Break and back in session. (4:43 PM)

Auten was 1 of 2 FBI agents who interviewed Danchenko. Jon Moffa was involved in the briefing of the investigation, although Auten does not know how high up in the FBI the briefing went. Between January 24 and 26 of 2017, Auten and Steve Soma spent three afternoons interviewing Danchenko, whose attorney was also present. Soma was investigating Carter Page at the same time. Auten says two individuals from the Department of Justice’s National Security division were also present: Dave Loffman(?) and Richard Scott.

Government Exhibit 118 is the January 24, 2017 letter to Danchenko c/o his lawyer, signed by David Loffman regarding the immunity agreement, which stated that the government retained their right to prosecution but that Danchenko could exercise his 5th amendment right to remain silent. The letter stated: "Your client agrees to supply complete and truthful information plus in court proceedings. Client cannot withhold information or protect people." Protection was given pursuant to US Code 6001 which does not include perjury. The letter stated if Danchenko violated the agreement, the government may void the agreement and Danchenko would be subject to provide testimony to the government or a grand jury.

Judge Trenga advises judicial notice that the court recognizes proof in regard to statutory immunity.

According to Auten, Danchenko spoke English well and didn’t have trouble answering questions. Danchenko’s view was that the report included his information, analysis, and Mr. Steele’s information; beyond that, Danchenko claimed he didn’t recognize the other information.

Government Exhibit 1800 is a letter dated October 11, 2020 containing a stipulation wherein the parties agreed the evidence shown in Exhibit 1502 is a LinkedIn instant message between Igor Danchenko and Anastasia Gnezditskaia.

Durham asks if Auten was aware that Buzzfeed published the Steele dossier in January of 2017, prior to his FBI interview with Danchenko. Auten says: "Yes."

Durham insists that the primary sub source of the Steele dossier was not known until the Fall of 2020.

Defense objects.

Conversation under seal.

🚨 Government Exhibit 1502 is admitted into evidence.

The LinkedIn conversation exchanged between Igor and Anastasia on October 11, 2020 at 18:25:25 UTC with a blank subject line reads: (from Danchenko) "Yes, I collected some 80% of the raw intelligence and half of the analysis for the Steele dossier."

Auten and Soma didn’t bring the actual dossiers into the interview with Danchenko due to classification issues, however they brought notes and/or the printout of Buzzfeed’s publication of the Steel dossier. Auten says after the 3-day interview with Danchenko in January of 2017, there was talk of bringing on the defendant as a confidential human sub source, but he wasn’t personally involved in making that happen. 

Durham asserts, beginning in January of 2017, the FBI had a plan to bring on Danchenko as a confidential human source for Crossfire Hurricane.

Durham asks what the status of Crossfire Hurricane was prior to Danchenko being brought on as a confidential human source? Auten says there were "3 waves" of CH and that they were currently in Crossfire 2.0, which occurred between November and December of 2016 and March of 2017. Since Danchenko was a confidential human source out of the Washington, D.C. field office, Soma did not end up working with him because he went to the NY field office. At the time, FBI agent Helsan was specializing in Russian counterintelligence.

Durham asks if Helsan was to pose questions to Danchenko on behalf of Crossfire Hurricane, as Auten was a principal contact for Helsan. Auten says that they never got corroborating information for the report from Danchenko. He talks about intelligence analyst Brittany Herzog’s(?) involvement validating material from the dossier as well as Amy Anderson. Auten says Sergei Milian came up during the 3-day interview with Danchenko in January of 2017 regarding Source E and dossier report 95.

On January 24, 2017, Auten found Danchenko’s story odd regarding the short phone call with the anonymous "Russian male" that Danchenko believed to be Sergei Milian. That said, Auten had the subsequent interview on January 25; on this day, Danchenko brought in a number of documents, including text messages that included Russian exchanges with other individual(s). Auten does no remember if the FBI translated.

Durham raises the point that it was later learned that there were communications with Danchenko and a gentleman named Sidorov(?). Auten says that Danchenko’s story about Milian was inconsistent, as it changed from two initial communications with Milian to one. Danchenko then said he had sent Milian a follow-up email that he did not provide at the time of the January 2017 FBI interview. Auten has seen this communication after that interview, and remembers them.


To read the complete set of trial notes, Toria Brooke has published her complete set of notes here: