In a blow to special counsel John Durham's investigation, a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, found Igor Danchenko not guilty on Tuesday of lying to the FBI about the origins of the Steele Dossier.
Durham had argued that Danchenko, a private researcher, misled FBI officials in 2017 about his sources for accusations that former President Donald Trump had been colluding with Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election.
It comes after the FBI determined Danchenko was the unnamed source that former British spy Christopher Steele tasked with probing the Trump campaign, Kremlin official Sergei Ivanov, and oil industry consultant Carter Page.
"The government is just trying to stretch the facts to make something out of nothing," Danchenko attorney Stuart Sears said in the courtroom on Monday, The Wall Street Journal noted. "He was trying to help the FBI, and now they are prosecuting him for it."
Sears applauded the ruling a day later: "We've known all along that Mr. Danchenko was innocent. We're happy now that the American public knows that as well."
Meanwhile, Durham revealed in a statement that the special counsel was "disappointed in the outcome" but that they "respect the jury's decision and thank them for their service."
According to The Washington Post, the trial could be the last for Durham, who lost a previous case against cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann in May.
The last time the counsel saw big success was in 2020 when ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith agreed to one year of probation after admitting to altering government emails while surveilling Page, who served as Trump's foreign policy adviser.
But Clinesmith currently remains the only substantial effort that has stood the test of courts stemming from the Durham probe. The next step will likely be the release of a report, which Attorney General Merrick Garland will decide on how much to make public.
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