Special Counsel John Durham is set to take his second case to trial, as he winds down his three-year inquiry into the origins of the 2016 FBI probe into alleged ties between Russia and the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump, reports the Wall Street Journal. The trial is a major test of Durham’s work after his first prosecution ended in an acquittal. Analyst Igor Danchenko, who served as a source for a dossier of opposition research about Trump in 2016 and his alleged ties to Russia, is scheduled to face trial beginning Tuesday on five counts of making false statements to the FBI about where he got some of his information.
The judge overseeing the Alexandria, Va., federal trial, Anthony Trenga, has expressed some doubts about the case, saying Danchenko had a persuasive defense. Last week he limited the evidence prosecutors can use, agreeing with Danchenko’s lawyers that some of the evidence the government hoped to introduce wasn’t directly related to the charges it filed and could confuse jurors. Durham is completing a report he will submit to Attorney General Merrick Garland at the end of his tenure. His office has relayed to a defense attorney that it doesn’t expect to bring charges against another person who was a focus of the investigation. Through the prosecution of Danchenko and a previous trial of a lawyer for the 2016 Clinton campaign, Durham has sought to portray allies of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as providing the FBI with inaccurate and misleading information about Trump and Russia in an effort to damage her then-rival’s campaign. Trump and his supporters wanted Durham to charge a host of officials involved in the FBI’s Russia probe, which the former president called a witch hunt, but the inquiry has fallen short of the outcome they sought.