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Russian bankers suing Fusion GPS, seek deposition of Danchenko, the source of infamous Steele dossier

Chuck Ross, DCNF

  • Lawyers for the owners of Alfa Bank have asked a federal judge to force Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko to appear for a deposition. 
  • The bankers subpoenaed Danchenko in August, but he has refused to voluntarily appears for a deposition, according to the lawyers. 
  • Danchenko has recently come out of hiding through several interviews about his work for Christopher Steele. 

Lawyers for a trio of Russian bankers asked a federal judge on Friday to order Igor Danchenko, the primary source for the Steele dossier, to appear for a deposition regarding his work on the salacious document.

The lawyers, who represent Alfa Bank, said in a court filing on Friday that Danchenko had rejected a subpoena to appear voluntarily for a deposition in a lawsuit against Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.

The Alfa Bank owners, German Khan, Peter Aven and Mikhail Fridman, are suing Fusion GPS for defamation over one of the memos from Christopher Steele’s 35-page dossier. Fusion GPS hired Steele in June 2016 to investigate Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia.

In a memo dated Sept. 14, 2016, Steele alleged that the owners of the bank had bribed Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Steele has said that he relied on only one source — identified in July as Danchenko — to collect information on Trump, members of the Trump campaign, and Russian government officials’ election meddling efforts.

The owners of Alfa Bank have vehemently denied the allegation that they have bribed Putin. In addition to their lawsuit against Fusion GPS, they have sued Steele in London, where he is based.

In the dossier, Steele alleged that the Trump campaign and the Kremlin were part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” to influence the 2016 election

That allegation was largely debunked by the special counsel’s report, which said that prosecutors found no evidence that Trump associates conspired with Russians.

The special counsel’s office also debunked Danchenko’s allegation that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met secretly with Kremlin insiders in August 2016 in Prague.

A British court ordered Steele to pay damages to the Alfa Bank owners in July, saying that the allegations in the dossier about Alfa Bank were “inaccurate or misleading.”

Steele revealed during the course of that case that he began investigating Alfa Bank at the request of Fusion GPS owner Glenn Simpson. He also acknowledged that some aspects of the memo regarding Alfa Bank were inaccurate, according to a transcript of the court proceedings.

The Alfa Bank owners filed a request in August to depose Steele in the lawsuit against Fusion GPS.

Alan Lewis, a lawyer for the Alfa Bank owners, said in a declaration filed on Friday that Danchenko was served with a subpoena for documents and his deposition on Aug. 19.

He said that Danchenko’s lawyer, Mark Schamel, said his client does not have any documents relevant to the lawsuit.

“Schamel also informed me that Danchenko would not voluntarily appear for a deposition pursuant to the deposition subpoena and intended to file a motion for a protective order,” Lewis said in an affidavit.

Schamel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Danchenko came out of hiding this week, giving interviews to The Guardian and The New York Times to defend his work for Steele and to push back against allegations that he is a Russian spy.

He said that he still believes the dossier’s most explosive allegation: that the Kremlin secretly recorded Trump with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013. But Danchenko indicated that he did not verify that a tape of Trump existed. He said he spoke to three people in Russia in June 2016 who mentioned the existence of a tape.

Danchenko did not address the errors in the dossier regarding Trump campaign collusion with Russia or Michael Cohen’s alleged visit to Prague during his interviews with The Guardian and The Times.

Danchenko set up an online fundraiser last week in which he called himself “the investigator who first exposed Trump-Russia threats to American national security on behalf of Christopher Steele in 2016.”

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Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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