Special counsel John Durham’s latest case goes to the jury after a series of setbacks from the prosecution

John Durham

John Durham Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images

Special counsel John Durham made his closing arguments Monday in what is expected to be the swan song of his three-year probe into the Justice Department’s investigation into ties between Russia and former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. In the case at hand, Durham accused Russian foreign policy investigator Igor Danchenko on five counts of lying to the FBI in connection with his role as a sub-source on former British spy Christopher Steele’s sordid, largely discredited Trump-Russia dossier.

Durham has faced several setbacks in the trial, including his own FBI witnesses appearing to bolster Danchenko’s defense and U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga’s decision Friday to throw out one of the five indictments, saying he ruled that Danchenko’s statements to the FBI about minor source Charles Dolan were “literally true.” The remaining charges involve Danchenko’s statements about phone conversations he said he believed he had with Sergei Millan, a former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.

Durham spent much of his closing argument attacking the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, as he had done during the trial. Sometimes, Political‘s Josh Gerstein noted last week, “Durham appeared to be training his fire against the FBI, even at the expense of his case against Danchenko.” During Monday’s closing arguments, as Durham defended his work and went after the FBI and Mueller’s investigation, New York Times reports, Judge Trenga — a George W. Bush appointee — told him, “You should finish.”

After Durham and Danchenko’s attorneys finished their closing arguments in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, the jury deliberated for four hours Monday before being excused for the night.

Since his appointment in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr, Durham has secured a guilty plea from an FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, based on evidence gathered by a Justice Department inspector general. Clinesmith received 12 months of probation but no jail time. The only other case Durham’s team developed, charging cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann with a single count of lying to the FBI, ended in acquittal after a six-hour jury trial.

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