House Judiciary Committee launches investigation into ex-FBI official charged over ties to Russian oligarch
Committee investigating allegations of 'politicization and bias' at the FBI
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and Rep. Matt Gaetz on Thursday launched an investigation into Charles McGonigal — the former FBI special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division who was recently indicted on charges of money laundering and other counts stemming from his "collusion" with a Russian oligarch.
Jordan, R-Ohio, and Gaetz, R-Fla., notified FBI Director Christopher Wray in a letter Thursday that the committee is "continuing to investigate allegations of politicization and bias" at the FBI.
Jordan and Gaetz said the indictment of McGonigal reminded the American people "yet again about the seemingly pervasive problems within the FBI."
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Meanwhile, Jordan and Gaetz are demanding that Wray arrange a member-level briefing to discuss the FBI’s investigation of McGonigal, its review of "pertinent FBI procedures and protocols," and the FBI’s assessment of the national security risk posed by McGonigal’s "collusion" with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
McGonigal, who retired from the bureau in 2018, was charged through a nine-count indictment unsealed last week in Washington, D.C. He was indicted on the charge of falsification of records and documents, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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The nine-count indictment also included the charge of making false statements, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for each count. The charges also carry potential financial penalties, prosecutors said.
McGonigal, who was a former special agent in charge of the New York FBI Counterintelligence Division, was charged for working on behalf of and taking money from Deripaska, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
McGonigal allegedly violated U.S. sanctions and "allegedly laundered money for and conspired to aid Deripaska."
"McGonigal allegedly took these actions after previously supervising investigations into Deripaska and his Russian rivals," Jordan and Gaetz wrote, noting that, according to the indictment, in his role as SAC of the Counterintelligence Division, "McGonigal 'supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska.’"
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"McGonigal also 'received and reviewed a then-classified list of Russian oligarchs with close ties to the Kremlin who would be considered for sanctions to be imposed as a result of Russia's 2014 conflict with Ukraine,’" they wrote. "This misconduct further erodes public confidence in the FBI's conduct and law-enforcement actions."
Jordan and Gaetz said the indictment also raises new questions about the FBI’s "counterintelligence efforts during his employment with the FBI."
Meanwhile, Jordan and Gaetz, pointing to the original Trump-Russia investigation in 2016, said Deripaska was the same Russian oligarch who was working with Christopher Steele — the author of the infamous anti-Trump dossier that served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate whether Trump and members of his campaign were colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
After nearly two years, Mueller’s more than $30 million investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.
Special Counsel John Durham, since 2019, has been investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
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Jordan set a deadline for the member-level briefing to occur and for the documents to be turned over no later than Feb. 16.
Jordan and Republicans have sought information on the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, alleged FISA abuse, information on domestic violent extremism cases, the Justice Department’s efforts to monitor parents at school board meetings and label them as domestic terrorists, among other issues.
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Jordan threatened that if his committee’s requests "remain outstanding," he "may be forced to resort to compulsory process to obtain the material we require."