Ex-FBI Agent Behind Trump-Russia Probe to Plead Guilty for Illegal Ties to Russian Oligarch
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One of the main FBI agents who helped launch the investigation against the Trump campaign over false accusations of colluding with the Russians may have actually been the one who was colluding with the Russians.
The retired FBI agent who investigated Donald Trump for the now-debunked ties to Russia in 2016 will reportedly change his personal "not guilty" plea and plead "guilty" in a case accusing him of illegally working for a Russian oligarch. Russia's powerful business tycoons, dubbed oligarchs, are known for having ties to the Russian government.
"The court has been informed that defendant Charles McGonigal may wish to enter a change of plea," Manhattan federal Judge Jennifer Rearden wrote in a brief order filed Monday, scheduling a hearing for Aug. 15, according to numerous news reports.
McGonigal, 54, a former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official who investigated Russian oligarchs, was indicted in January on charges of money laundering, conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, and conspiring to violate federal law against doing business with sanctioned individuals.
Prosecutors have alleged McGonigal secretly worked for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire, in violation of U.S. sanctions. They claim the former FBI agent worked to have Deripaska's sanctions lifted in 2019 and took money from him in 2021 to investigate a rival oligarch. He has been out on bail since his arrest.
Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminum company Rusal, was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and government officials blacklisted by Washington in 2018 in reaction to Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, according to Reuters.
McGonigal played a key role in the FBI's controversial "Russiagate" investigation which led to Robert Mueller getting appointed as special counsel to probe potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election, The New York Post reported.
McGonigal was also indicted on separate charges of allegedly hiding payments totaling $225,000 from a former member of Albania's intelligence service and taking a secret meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. He pleaded not guilty in that case — which is still pending trial, according to the outlet.
Durham Report: FBI Ignored Own Principles of Objectivity and Integrity
As CBN News reported in May, the Durham Report, a summary of Special Counsel John Durham's probe into the FBI's investigation into Russia, Trump, and the 2016 election, offered a scathing rebuke of the FBI.
The report revealed the FBI rushed into its investigation of former President Trump over allegations of collusion with Russia in 2016, and that it ignored its own principles of objectivity and integrity, resulting in serious damage to the bureau's reputation.
The report slams the FBI for launching the probe against Trump since "neither U.S. law enforcement nor the intelligence community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion."
Durham accused the bureau of using "raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence," and relied on investigative leads provided by or funded by Trump's political opponents.
Trump responded to the more than 300-page report, repeating accusations of his own that the FBI's effort to target him was "the crime of the century."
While Durham's investigation did ultimately find the FBI to be at fault, it did not discover any sort of "deep state conspiracy" by intelligence officials and law enforcement to sabotage the 2016 Trump campaign.
In June, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for comments he made about Trump's alleged ties to Russia. The House publicly rebuked the 12-term California representative in front of the assembled Congress.
Schiff, the former Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was the lead prosecutor in Trump's first impeachment trial. He was one of the most outspoken critics of Trump as both the Justice Department and the Republican-led House launched investigations regarding Trump and Russia in 2017. Both investigations concluded that Russia tried to influence voters in the 2016 presidential election but neither found evidence of a criminal conspiracy or any involvement by Trump.
"Representative Schiff purposely deceived his Committee, Congress, and the American people," the resolution said.
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