An ex-FBI official involved in the probe of potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia was charged on Monday with breaking sanctions on behalf of a Russian oligarch who is sanctioned by the U.S. government, according to NBC News.
Charles McGonigal, a former leader of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York, has been accused of violating U.S. sanctions on behalf of Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin.
Prosecutors claim that McGonigal and a former Russian diplomat conspired to have sanctions lifted from Deripaska in 2021 and that they also investigated another Russian oligarch for concealed payments from Deripaska.
However, their efforts were unsuccessful, as Deripaska remains under sanctions.
McGonigal, who was arrested on Monday, is alleged to have received $225,000 from a former Russian intelligence officer while still employed by the FBI.
The indictment of McGonigal comes as a surprise, given his role in the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. As a prominent counterintelligence official, McGonigal was among the initial individuals at the FBI to discover that a Trump campaign advisor had discussed Hillary Clinton’s emails with a foreign diplomat. This conversation ultimately led to the FBI opening an investigation into the Trump campaign, but ultimately no evidence of collusion was found.
McGonigal, a former FBI agent who left the bureau in 2018, was reportedly involved in the investigation of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, as evidenced by text messages released by Senate Republicans.
The messages, sent on March 16, 2017, indicate that McGonigal was in communication with an FBI colleague regarding the Russia probe and specifically mentions Carter Page.
However, it is not known to what extent McGonigal was involved in the broader investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.
The probe also examined the relationship between former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had previous business dealings in Ukraine and reportedly maintained contact during the 2016 campaign.
Deripaska has a connection to Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, who made claims in a controversial document that the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia to affect the 2016 presidential election. The FBI used Steele’s report extensively for its inquiry but was unable to confirm the claims of collusion. Deripaska previously employed Steele for a research project.