Key FBI ‘Russiagate’ investigator indicted for financial ties to Russian oligarch

by WorldTribune Staff, January 24, 2023

An FBI counterintelligence official who was one of the architects of the Russiagate investigation of President Donald Trump has been arrested on charges of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Charles McGonigal is accused of taking secret payments from Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in exchange for investigating a rival oligarch, federal prosecutors announced on Monday.

Charles McGonigal faces up to 20 years on each of the four counts he is charged with. / Video Image

“The FBI SleazeBag who was in charge of ‘investigating’ me on RUSSIAGATE was JUST ARRESTED FOR RECIEVING MONEY FROM, get this, RUSSIA!!!These are the people I inherited from the corrupt FBI, including Comey and his crooked band of Misfits and Thugs,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post.

As FBI director, James Comey promoted McGonigal to oversee counterintelligence operations in New York.

McGonigal, 54, is one of the highest-ranking FBI officials ever to be charged with a crime. He faces one count of violating U.S. sanctions, one count of money laundering, and two conspiracy counts, prosecutors said.

Each of the four counts, which were filed in a New York federal court, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said McGonigal concealed his ties to the Russian oligarch by telling friends he was working for a “rich Russian guy” and stressed that his work was legal. In conversations about Deripaska, he would try to keep his employer’s identity a secret by referring to him as “the big guy” and “you know whom.”

McGonigal, who left the FBI in 2018, was one of the first FBI operatives to claim that a Trump campaign adviser had discussed Hillary Clinton’s emails with a foreign diplomat. The FBI opened its investigation of the Trump campaign based on that conversation, but later found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

McGonigal was involved in the bureau’s investigation of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, according to text messages released by Senate Republicans. “Our Team is currently talking to [Carter Page] re Russia,” he wrote on March 16, 2017, to an FBI colleague.

Deripaska is a Russian aluminum magnate with close ties to Vladimir Putin. According to prosecutors, McGonigal and a former Russian diplomat conspired to have sanctions removed from Deripaska in 2021. They also investigated another Russian oligarch “in return for concealed payments” from Deripaska.

Their effort was unsuccessful as Deripaska remains under sanctions. McGonigal, who was arrested on Monday, allegedly received $225,000 from a former Russian intelligence officer while he was still employed by the FBI.

Deripaska also has ties to former British spy and Trump dossier author Christopher Steele. The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s dossier for its investigation, but failed to verify the collusion allegations. Deripaska once hired Steele to work on a “research project” on his behalf.

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