FBI agent Charles McGonigal to plead guilty to colluding with Russia after investigating Trump—baselessly—for Russian collusion over 2016 election

McGonigal was indicted in January on charges that include money laundering and violating US sanctions.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Former FBI agent Charles McGonigal is set to plead guilty in a case accusing the agent who was involved in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, of illegally working for a Russian oligarch.

In a brief order filed on Monday, federal Judge Jennifer Rearden wrote, "The court has been informed that defendant Charles McGonigal may wish to enter a change of plea," according to the New York Post.

McGonigal was indicted in January on charges that include money laundering and violating US sanctions by working for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and business magistrate, with the former top FBI counterintelligence agent working to try to get Deripaska off the US sanctions list. 

He pleaded not guilty to Conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, money laundering, conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to violate federal law against doing business with sanctioned individuals, and was released on a $500,000 bond.

Instead of reporting to the FBI his contact with foreign officials as required by law, he instead allegedly concealed the ties and pursued overseas travel and business that conflicted with his profession.

McGonigal was one of the first FBI officials to learn of allegations that Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos claimed that he knew the Russians had information on Hillary Clinton, which launched the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane operation, according to the New York Post.

In 2020, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Jonathan Moffa told Senate Judiciary Committee staffers that in July of 2016, he got an email from McGonigal that "contained essentially that reporting, which then served as the basis for the opening of the case."

The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to probe the case, and shortly after Mueller was appointed, McGonigal sent a message to an FBI colleague discussing how agents were interviewing Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.

"Our Team is currently talking to CP re Russia," McGonigal, who had recently been promoted to special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York Counterintelligence Division, wrote on March 16, 2017.

Page was wiretapped in 2016 by the FBI based on a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application, which cited the discredited Steele dossier, which claimed Page "had been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government."

McGonigal’s name was also reportedly the first on a list of FBI officials that received an October 25, 2015 memo about a "classified defensive briefing" given to Hillary Clinton presidential campaign lawyers about attempts by a foreign government to influence Trump through "lobbying efforts and campaign contributions."

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