ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Opening arguments in the trial of a key source for the anti-Donald Trump dossier are set for Oct. 12 after a 16-member jury was selected and seated on Tuesday.
Igor Danchenko, a Russian national who supplied information to dossier author Christopher Steele, is facing five counts of making false statements to the FBI during interviews with agents. Danchenko could land up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Jury selection took place in the U.S. courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. It lasted 90 minutes. U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga, a George W. Bush appointee, is presiding over the trial.
Jurors were drawn from a pool of 91 candidates, 89 of whom were present in the courtroom. Four of the 16 selected are alternates.
Before jury selection, special Counsel John Durham unsealed the government’s witness list and Trenga was presented with three issues the prosecution and Danchenko’s attorneys—Stuart Sears and Danny Onorato—want resolved before getting too deep into the proceedings.
Durham sought clarity from Trenga on a defense motion to limit evidence from previous counter-espionage cases, including the FBI’s investigation into Danchenko after the Russian allegedly told colleagues he had a way to get them money in exchange for classified information.
“That was 10 years before the allegation here,” Sears said. “I don’t think is necessary” for it to be discussed in this case.
The defense also wants to introduce “a series of articles” from May to June 2016, an email chain, Amtrak tickets, and other documents that it maintains will show Danchenko did not lie to federal agents when he said he did not talk to Charles Dolan, a longtime associate of the Clinton family, about allegations contained in the dossier, which was paid for by the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and other Democrats.
Trenga was set to rule on lingering issues later Tuesday.
Danchenko also allegedly lied when he said that he thought he spoke over the phone with Sergei Millian, a pro-Trump businessman, and intended to meet with Millian in New York.
Defense lawyers maintain Danchenko was never asked by the FBI to specifically name his sources.
That’s untrue, Durham said. The FBI “made it abundantly clear they were asking for any and all information” related to Steele dossier sources, the special counsel said. “There was no misunderstanding.”
The case is the second to go to trial for Durham, who was appointed in 2020 by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the government’s counterintelligence probe into Trump, his campaign, and Russia.
The first trial, for Democrat lawyer Michael Sussmann, ended in Sussmann’s acquittal.
Neither Steele nor Millian is expected to testify, but prosecutors plan to question Dolan on the stand.