Trump-Russia file source hangs on Clinton-linked law firm to fight false accusations

The same law firm that represented members of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign will defend the man who was the main source of Christopher Steele’s fake case on former President Donald Trump, despite warnings that it is a conflict of interest.

In a legal brief on Monday, Igor Danchenko said he was aware of the potential conflict of interest but decided not to change lawyers.

“I believe I have a full understanding of any actual or potential conflict of interest that may arise in the course of my representation,” Mr. Danchenko wrote in a case filed with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he sits. . trial for lying to the FBI. “With this knowledge and understanding, I voluntarily waive any actual or potential conflict of interest and choose to continue with my current lawyer of choice. “

Special Counsel John Durham, who is investigating the origins of the FBI investigation into Trump-Russia collusion, reported conflict of interest over law firm involvement late last month linked to Clinton in the case. Federal prosecutors had until Jan. 7 to file objections to the continued representation of Mr Danchenko’s team, but raised no further concerns.

Mr. Danchenko, a Russian-born analyst, was indicted last year on five counts of lying to the FBI. The Justice Department alleges it made false statements to officials about how it compiled information for Mr. Steele’s case, which was used by the FBI in connection with its surveillance request. ‘a former Trump campaign aide.

Mr. Danchenko is represented by defense lawyers Danny Onorato and Stuart Sears of Schertler & Onorato.

Another lawyer in the firm has close ties to Ms Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to Mr Durham’s court record. This could create a potential conflict of interest, Mr Durham said, asking a federal judge to review the case.

“The interests of the Clinton campaign and the accused may diverge,” Mr. Durham wrote in a filing. “For example, the Clinton campaign and the accused could each be made to shift blame and / or responsibility to the other party for any alleged misinformation contained in the [Steele dossier] and / or provided to the FBI.

Although Mr Durham did not identify the lawyer involved in the Clinton campaign, Department of Justice lawyers named him during a court hearing in December.

Lawyer Robert Trout, who is not involved in the Danchenko case, helped represent the Clinton campaign. He also represented former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta during his December 2017 testimony before the House Standing Special Committee on Intelligence.

In a second appearance before the same committee in 2017, Mr. Podesta was represented by Marc Elias, who was the principal lawyer for the Clinton campaign. Mr Elias, while working for the Clinton campaign, hired Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm which brought in Mr Steele to compile the dossier.

A spokesperson for Schertler & Onorato did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Durham said there was a possibility that the dispute could be lifted by the court, but he wanted the matter to be settled by the court.

Mr Danchenko replaced his former defense lawyer, Mark Schamel, earlier this month. Mr Schamel is also the lawyer for a computer scientist identified as “Researcher-1” in Mr Durham’s indictment against Michael Sussmann, a lawyer linked to the Democratic Party.

Mr Sussmann was indicted in a separate case and is accused of lying to the FBI General Counsel in 2016. He allegedly told the FBI he was not representing a particular client when he met to make the now debunked claims about the Trump organization’s ties. and the Russian bank Alfa.

Mr. Sussmann pleaded not guilty.

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