In the irony of ironies, a former FBI agent who investigated former President Donald Trump for Russian collusion is facing charges for…well, Russian collusion. Now, it appears that Charles McGonigal may be preparing to plead guilty to those charges.
We first brought you the story in January:
Former agent Charles McGonigal, who headed up counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York field office during the Trump-Russia saga, was placed under arrest for allegedly taking payments from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. What was he being paid to do? According to CBS News, McGonigal and an interpreter named Sergey Shestakov agreed to investigate another Russian oligarch that Deripaska was targeting.
A former top FBI official in New York has been arrested over his ties to a Russian oligarch, law enforcement sources told ABC News Monday.
Charles McGonigal, who was the special agent in charge of counterintelligence in the FBI’s New York Field Office, is under arrest over his ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has been sanctioned by the United States and criminally charged last year with violating those sanctions.
McGonigal retired from the FBI in 2018. He was arrested Saturday afternoon after he arrived at JFK Airport following travel in Sri Lanka, the sources said.
McGonigal was a key figure in creating the Russian Hoax. He’s the guy who received the allegation made by Australian High Commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer that Trump campaign aid George Papadopoulos said the Russians have “dirt on Hillary.” For a trip down memory lane, read Was a Drunken Conversation Really All the Probable Cause the FBI Needed to Investigate a Presidential Campaign?
While the media is harping on the “Russian oligarch” narrative because they can never admit Hillary Clinton’s opposition research team thoroughly punked them, it is useful to remember that in 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller approached Deripaska about funding a private effort to locate American citizen, former FBI agent, and suspected CIA asset Robert Levinson who had gone missing in Iran. More memories can be found at There Might Be a Very Good Reason Why Mueller Is Not Indicting Paul Manafort’s Russian Business Partner. Even as the Russia Hoax was unfolding, Hillary’s oppo team at Fusion GPS was working on getting sanctions removed from Deripaska, which is the same activity that got McGonigal indicted; see
New York Times Forced To “Correct” Major Story on the Manafort Case. I don’t know the trajectory of McGonigal’s career, but it is entirely possible he was in the New York Field Office when Mueller tried to turn Deripaska into an FBI asset.
Though he initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, reports now are that McGonigal intends to change his plea to guilty.
The former FBI official previously pleaded not guilty to conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, money laundering, conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to violate federal law against doing business with sanctioned individuals in connection with his work for sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Rearden has set a change of plea hearing in the matter for August 15th.
The minute entry of Judge Rearden’s order reads:
Full docket text for document 54:
ORDER as to Charles McGonigal: The Court has been informed that Defendant Charles McGonigal may wish to enter a change of plea. Accordingly, on August 15, 2023 at 12:15 p.m., a plea proceeding will take place in Courtroom 12B, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007. (Change of Plea Hearing set for 8/15/2023 at 12:15 PM in Courtroom 12B, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Jennifer H. Rearden) (Signed by Judge Jennifer H. Rearden on 8/7/2023) (ap)
While the reason for the change of plea is unclear, its timing in the midst of the high-profile criminal prosecutions of Donald Trump and Hunter Biden somewhat invites speculation. In fairness, that could be all there is to it — the guy was charged and, after seeing the government’s evidence against him, decided with his lawyers’ advice that a plea deal was his best option. One wonders, of course, if there will be any “unprecedented” immunity arrangements in McGonigal’s deal.
We’ll keep an eye out.