A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Igor Danchenko, who was a key source for the infamous anti-Trump dossier, to explain why he wants to present classified evidence as part of his defense in his upcoming criminal trial.
In a two-page order, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga gave Mr. Danchenko one week to specify what, if any, classified information he still intends to use at trial “and why such information is necessary, relevant and admissible.”
Mr. Danchenko has until Sept. 20 to detail why he wants to use classified documents in his defense, according to the order. The government has until Sept. 27 to respond to Mr. Danchenko’s motion.
Mr. Danchenko’s criminal trial for lying to the FBI is scheduled to start in mid-October.
He is charged with repeatedly lying to the FBI about how he compiled information for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier that was filled with now-debunked accusations tying former President Donald Trump to Russia.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Special counsel John Durham, who is prosecuting Mr. Danchenko, has opposed the use of classified information in his defense. However, his legal team has filed their objections under seal so it’s unclear why they oppose the legal strategy.
Earlier this month, Mr. Danchenko filed a motion signaling that he intends to use classified information in his defense. That motion was also filed under seal and did not offer any more details on how the materials could help defense attorneys make their case.
The government has already provided Mr. Danchenko’s attorneys with 5,000 classified documents and 61,000 unclassified documents, according to a court filing in May.
Prosecutors say the information Mr. Danchenko gathered for the dossier was built on exaggerations, rumors and outright lies. The indictment also suggests that Mr. Danchenko lied to Mr. Steele about how he was getting his information.
Mr. Danchenko is accused of intentionally misleading the FBI when he denied in a 2017 interview that his primary source for a section of the dossier was Charles H. Dolan Jr., a former aide to Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, lost the election to Mr. Trump.
Both sides have spent the summer fighting over the use and production of classified documents.
In May, Mr. Danchenko’s attorneys blamed Mr. Durham’s team for slow-walking the production of classified documents. Mr. Durham, in turn, accused the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies of delaying handing over documents to his team.
Mr. Durham said the FBI and other intelligence agencies have been slow to declassify some of the materials because of “recent world events,” possibly referring to Russia’s war with Ukraine.