Analyst Who Reported Trump’s ‘Pee Tape’ Rumor Was Just Arrested

Igor Danchenko, the Russian-born primary researcher for what’s become known as the Steele dossier, has been charged with lying to the FBI.
November 4, 2021, 6:08pm
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during an event establishing the U.S. Space Command, the sixth national armed service, in the Rose Garden at the White House August 29, 2019 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during an event establishing the U.S. Space Command, the sixth national armed service, in the Rose Garden at the White House August 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

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Federal law enforcement have arrested Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who reported the infamous “pee tape” rumor involving President Donald Trump. 

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Danchenko was the primary researcher on what’s become known as the Steele dossier—a litany of allegations against the former president and his campaign, namely that they conspired with Russian intelligence to defeat Hillary Clinton. 

On Thursday, Danchenko was taken into custody in Virginia for allegedly lying to the FBI, according to an unsealed indictment filed in federal court. During interviews as part of the FBI probe into Trump’s connections with Russia—known as “Crossfire Hurricane”—Danchenko allegedly misled agents about how, and when, he received some of the information that ended up in the dossier. 

Specifically, the indictment accuses Danchenko of covering up his relationship with a public relations executive and “longtime participant in Democratic Party politics,” whom the indictment describes as the real source of “one or more” allegations in the dossier. 

Danchenko’s arrest comes as part of the special counsel’s inquiry into the Russia investigation, which officially began last year, shortly before Trump left office and is being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham. Trump has publicly exhorted Durham to go after his political enemies and to find crimes among those responsible for launching the investigation into his ties to Russia. 

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The dossier—which was prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele—alleged that Trump had once paid Russian sex workers to perform a show for him that involved urinating on a bed at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, which former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama had supposedly slept in. 

The Steele dossier claimed that the hotel "was known to be under FSB [Russian intelligence] control with microphones and concealed cameras” and suggested that “Russian authorities” had taken advantage of Trump’s “personal obsessions and sexual perversion” to obtain compromising material on him—an allegation that gave rise to the legend of the infamous, and possibly imaginary, Trump pee tape.  

As recently as October, Steele said he thinks the pee tape “probably does” exist but that Russia hasn’t needed to release it yet.

The dossier also suggested that Trump’s longtime former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, made a trip to the European city of Prague to further Trump’s links to Russia. Cohen continues to insist the claim was nonsense, and no meaningful evidence that it took place has ever emerged. 

In fact, much of what was in the Steele dossier remains unproven, if not determined to be false. And allies of Trump, including Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, have described Danchenko as a “Russian agent,” which Danchenko has forcefully denied.

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“I’ve never been a Russian agent,” Danchenko told the New York Times last year. “It is ridiculous to suggest that. This, I think, it’s slander.”

Danchenko is the third person to be arrested as part of Durham’s probe. In September, a grand jury indicted Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussman and charged him with lying to the FBI. Prosecutors allege that Sussman lied when he told them he wasn’t working for a specific client and that he was actually working for the Clinton campaign. 

FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith was also arrested and has pleaded guilty to falsifying a document during the early days of the Russia probe. 

Read the indictment here: