No, Charles McGonigal Likely Isn’t Responsible for that Part of the Russian Investigation You Hate

Everyone — whether from a left, right, or frothy perspective — has seized on the arrest of former FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles McGonigal to assume he was responsible for something they don’t like about the Russian investigation: the leaks (attributed to but not exclusively from SDNY) about the Clinton Foundation investigation; the problems on the Carter Page applications and vetting of the Steele dossier; the tanking of the Alfa Bank allegations; some later sabotage of the Mueller investigation.

There’s no reason to believe he was primarily responsible for most of that, and good reason to believe he was not. But he was in a place where he could have tampered in other really serious cases. So I want to lay out what his timeline is, with some comment on how it intersects with key investigations.

Here’s an excerpt from the bio sent out with the October 4, 2016 announcement of his promotion to SAC in NY Field Office.

FBI Director James B. Comey has named Charles McGonigal as the special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division for the New York Field Office. Mr. McGonigal most recently served as the section chief of the Cyber-Counterintelligence Coordination Section at FBI Headquarters.

[snip]

In 2014, Mr. McGonigal was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Baltimore Field Office’s cyber, counterintelligence, counterespionage, and counterproliferation programs.

[snip]

McGonigal will assume this new role at the end of October.

This 2016 promotion would have put him in New York too late to be a key 2016 leaker; the damage to Hillary had already been done by the time he would have arrived in New York.

He should have had a role in the Alfa Bank investigation, which included both a cyber and a counterintelligence component, though the latter was in Chicago. But his name did not show up (in unredacted form, anyway) in the Michael Sussmann files. Plus, we know what bolloxed that investigation: two cyber agents, Nate Batty and Scott Hellman, who decided the anomaly was nothing even before they had looked at all the data, then kept telling the counterintelligence investigators that too.

McGonigal was in the loop on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. He had a hand in forwarding the tip from the Australians to DC headquarters. And he was in the vicinity of the Carter Page investigation after it got moved back to New York in January 2017 (in which context he shows up in communications with Jennifer Boone). But at least per the Horowitz Report, he wasn’t a key player.

Because McGonigal was tangential to the above matters — including the successful effort, aided by Sussmann and Rodney Joffe — to kill the early NYT story on the Alfa Bank allegations, he’s probably not the most important player in the October 2016 NYT story every Democrat hates (though his expertise could have made him a source for several of the journalists involved).

He likely was involved in coordination in the early parts of the investigation into the DNC hack (which was investigated in Pittsburgh and San Francisco), including a decision not to open an investigation on Roger Stone, and there were steps not taken in those early days that probably should have been. Perhaps McGonigal is to blame for the fact that, when Jeannie Rhee asked for a briefing on the investigation into the hack-and-leak in 2017, nothing had been done. Ultimately, it did get done though. He was no longer in a position to interfere with the investigation during the key part of it in 2018 (though he likely knew important details about it).

One thing that’s absolutely certain, though: He was in a position to sabotage investigations into Oleg Deripaska, and with him, Paul Manafort. And he would have greatly facilitated Deripaska’s campaign to undermine the Russian investigation with disinformation, which continued beyond 2018. Just as one measure of timing, Deripaska’s column in the Daily Caller was at the beginning of the time when Shestkov was reaching out to McGonigal.

The materials on the SDNY indictment pertaining to Deripaska make it clear that he had accessed sanctions packages pertaining to Deripaska before he left the FBI in 2018.

As SAC, McGonigal supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska. Among other things, in 2018, McGONIGAL, while acting as SAC, 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.

He appears to have leaked that information with the daughter of Agent 1 (believed to be Yevgenyi Fokin).

An NYPD Sergeant assigned to brief Agent-1’s daughter subsequently reported the event to the NYPD and FBI, because, among other reasons, Agent-1’s daughter claimed to have an unusually close relationship to “an FBI agent” who had given her access to confidential FBI files, and it was unusual for a college student to receive such special treatment from the NYPD and FBI.

It seems likely, then, Manafort got visibility onto what the FBI knew about him. And he got it around the same time Konstantin Kilimnik was included in a conspiracy indictment with Paul Manafort in June 2018. He almost certainly got it before the Mueller investigation was over, which hypothetically could have influenced or facilitated Manafort’s effort to thwart DOJ’s investigation.

I have reason to suspect that people associated with McGonigal, if not he himself, have seeded disinformation about Deripaska-related investigations.

McGonigal’s tie to Deripaska and the trajectory of his career would have put him in a position to tamper in other investigations. As noted above, he moved from Baltimore (overseeing matters involving the NSA during years when the materials that would be leaked as part of the Shadow Brokers operation were stolen), to a cyber/CI role in DC, to NYC. The overt acts described in his two indictments (SDNY, DC) only start in 2017, which would suggest he may not have sold out until then.

Except there’s a problem with that: The first overt act in the DC indictment is him asking for money. So it’s not clear when he got started.

August 2017: McGonigal first asks Albanian for money.

September 7, 2017: McGonigal travels to Albania.

October 5, 2017: McGonigal receives $80,000 in a parked car from the Albanian.

November 18, 2017: McGonigal conducts an interview in Vienna with the Albanian acting as translator; the FBI has no record of the interview. Then McGonigal flies to Albania and discusses business with the same witness.

November 25, 2017: McGonigal predicates an investigation into the lobbyist for a rival Albanian politician.

February 28, 2018: McGonigal formally opens investigation into rival Albanian relying on witnesses whose expenses were paid by his source.

March 4, 2018: McGonigal dines with Prime Minister of Albania.

April 27, 2018: McGonigal pitched by two people in Germany to get involved in Bosnian affairs, facilitates an introduction to US Ambassador to UN.

June to August 2018: McGonigal sets up arrangement whereby Bosnian-tied pharma company would pay Albanian $500K to broker UN ties.

Spring-Summer 2018: At Sergey Shestakov’s request, McGonigal sets up Deripaska’s agent’s daughter with an NYPD internship.

September 2018: McGonigal retires from the FBI.

There are a number of key investigations, including some in which Deripaska had tangential interest, on which McGonigal would have had complete visibility. Their compromise would present a grave threat to the country.

They’re not the ones left, right, and frothers are most concerned about though.

Given how DOJ has charged these two indictments (and given the charges they have yet to file), I suspect they will try to get McGonigal to plead to one side and cooperate in the other — in part to unpack everything he did before and after he left the FBI. But even if they do, they’re not going to tell us what he was up to.

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74 replies
  1. tiredofit says:

    We knew that the culture of the NYC FBI office was right wing and sympathetic to Russian interference, and McGonigal fit right in. Whether he made the call or met in a dark parking lot with the NY Times doesn’t matter, because he was a part of an office where making that leak wouldn’t matter because many were willing to betray their country to help another country that wanted Trump and not Clinton.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Embedded in this post from LGM is the letter Senator Reid wrote to FBI Director Comey, which points out the double standard used by the FBI. IIRC, J. Edgar Hoover was a big fan of Nixon’s methods against the DFHs (the ‘H’ is for hippies) so it’s a cultural theme that has been around for a long time.

      Long ago and far away, there was the Efrem Zimbalist show about the FBI which was a pretty good example of the attitude then. Lantern-jawed good guys like Dick Tracy were all over the place.

      https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2023/01/clear-link

  2. dimmsdale says:

    The phrase in your account here (for which, much thanks) that jumps out at me, starts: “I have reason to suspect that people associated with McGonigal…” which prompts questions: are you referring to other agents in the NY field office, who are they, how much do you know that you have not yet revealed about the inner workings of….and there’s a rabbit hole I refuse to go down further. I trust you’ll post what you can, when you can, but here’s a hopefully answerable question: to what extent is the NY field office STILL crippled by sabotage from Trump-supportive agents?

    • emptywheel says:

      No. People charged or mentioned in the indictments.

      Tl;dr: People directly adjacent to him were dumping bullshit stories to at least one and I suspect several journalists in the last year.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Whether those dumps were based upon McGonigal’s information / vetting or original content by those sources you might know. I do not.

        I follow Balloon Juice as well, and they posted a series of tweets yesterday potentially linking McGonigal’s SDNY tenure to the HRC email story, including the infamous DJTJ tweet ‘loving’ the dirt drop. It makes me wonder just how dirty McGonigal was over the years, since this stuff doesn’t just happen absent a bad set of morals or some life event like drug use or gambling addiction.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          My friend who got sucked into the NYC FBI office’s 2016 maelstrom as an SAC from a different state indicated that agents (like him) whose personal problems had long been under control began falling back on old bad habits under the pressure–which seemed more than anything to be pressure to conform to that office’s worldview.

          Horrified to see what happened to my dear, longtime friend, who had worked so hard for so long to achieve his status and had it destroyed in a matter of months, at the time I saw it as his personal nightmare. Everything I have learned since suggests something much larger, more systemic, and even now scarcely understood (due to folks like McGonigal?) or contained.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            Memory can be malleable as is outlined in this article:

            What is the Mandela effect? And have you experienced it? – Joe Phelan, 3/19/22
            …..
            “Hollins named three similar types of memory-related phenomena: “false memory,” which is the creation of a memory that didn’t happen; “source-memory errors,” which is when someone forgets the true source of a memory; and “imagination inflation,” which is the tendency to believe something is real the more often, or the more vividly, it is imagined.”

            “Hollins also pointed to a several social elements as examples of how fallible our memories can be, such as the “Asch conformity,” which is when people conform to a view in order to fit in with a group, and the “misinformation effect,” which describes a tendency for people’s memories to alter based on subsequent learnings or experiences.”

            “However, Hollins believes the phenomenon that most closely aligns to the Mandela effect is that of “gist memory,” which is when someone has a general idea of something but can’t necessarily remember the specifics.”

            https://www.livescience.com/what-is-mandela-effect

  3. David F. Snyder says:

    Probably a dumb question and not important in any event: what is a frother? What is their perspective on events? Are they similar to a concern troll?

    Thank you for this digest, Marcy. I hadn’t jumped to conclusions yet but have been wondering about the tampering McGonigal might have been involved with. It may be that he was much more careful about covering his tracks prior to Trump assuming office*, thus DOJ not having the evidence to indict on earlier subversive acitivities he may have been involved with. A useful aphorism: “Beginnings are invisible.”

    *Given the chaotic style of the Trump administration compared to Obama’s and the general assumption that Trump/Tea Party was never supposed to vacate the executive seat of power, he may have assumed he would go unnoticed.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yes, flipping McGonigal would be a big deal. As usual, the bait would have to outweigh what he fears his past clients could do.

    Yes, if he asked for money in mid-2017, it would be unlikely it was the first time he’d been compromised or been paid. If he was paid $80k then, he’d already established himself as a reliable source.

    How does a mid-level FBI agent arrange a dinner with a foreign president? I can see being at a dinner, but having dinner with would suggest a greater level of association.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      The price to flip will likely be very high. The Russians are sloppy about many things but retribution is something they do well and as cruelly as possible. McGonigal will watch Manafort’s future, but I speculate he knows the safest place to be is in Marion.

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      How does a mid-level FBI agent arrange a dinner with a foreign president?

      So many adverbs suggest themselves. “Foolishly”? “Greedily”? “Evasively”? “Suicidally”?

      More seriously – I haven’t worked for the Federal government in decades, but at one point, I did. It’s interesting to even imagine first contact with a head of state – do you just call the embassy and ask to get on the president’s calendar? If you want to arrange a private dinner with a head of state without the FBI noticing, how do you even ask for a back channel (looking at you, Jared Kushner)?

      I’m remembering retired CIA employee Edwin G. Moore II throwing a package of classified documents over the wall of a Soviet embassy, and the embassy employees turning the package over to authorities because they thought it might be a bomb, so we know what WON’T work…

      Why would you assume that if you ask for help from (for example) the US State Department, no one would be curious about that. And if you DID manage to establish a back channel to a foreign head of state, without assistance from other knowledgeable folks, why would you assume NSA might not be listening to communications inside that government, which gives an entirely different group of people something to be curious about.

      I’m not sure whether “foolish” or “foolhardy” is the better word, but, sheesh! it’s probably both.

    • posaune says:

      This has made me think about SDNY in general and to remember that Robert Hanssen came out of NYC FBI. Once the Italian mob was consistently prosecuted in NYC, was the void filled by the Russian mob? and DJT working with the Russian mob? Does Giuliani fit into any of that?

  5. oldtulsadude says:

    As an Everyman, middle state and out of the loop, this type of
    violation of trust creates a cascade of mistrust-225K-how much to repeat “the anomaly is nothing”?

  6. Patient Observer says:

    Apologies, Rayne — I have not been consistent as to underscore versus space between the two words in my handle. I will try to remember to use the latter.

    Now to business:

    How do the members of this community feel about Heather Cox Richardson’s surmise that Comey came forward with his announcement in October 2016 in order to get ahead of a leak that he was certain that McGonigal would make?
    .
    .
    https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/january-23-2023

    ***As Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel points out, the Department of Justice is pursuing this case so far as about public corruption, not about national security. But it is surely significant that the man who was supposed to be in charge of protecting the U.S. from Russian oligarchs went to work for one as soon as he left the FBI, and perhaps sooner. And that oligarch was connected to Trump’s 2016 campaign manager.

    While there is a lot we still don’t know, we do know that in 2018, Comey told Congress he worried that officials in the FBI’s New York field office had given Trump ally Rudy Giuliani sensitive information in the last days of the 2016 election, after Giuliani had said so in front of television cameras. Giuliani made that claim in October, after McGonigal took over that office.

    We know that Comey told investigators that he released news of the reopened investigation of Clinton’s emails—against Department of Justice policy, right before the election with voting already underway—out of concern that “people in New York” would leak that information. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates was clearer. She told the inspector general that Comey and other FBI officials “felt confident that the New York Field Office would leak it and that it would come out regardless of whether he advised Congress or not.”***

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. There is a rush to pin it all on McGonigal that ignores what was already built in to the NY field office via current agents there and former ones like Jim Kallstrom and other friends of Rudy and Trump.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Patient Observer, If you read my comment above, you will know that a good friend of mine, an FBI SAC of a different field office, had extensive contact with the NYC office in 2016. An active social media user, he never posted about his work. But in late summer 2016 he began making radically anti-Clinton posts, with linking media like Breitbart, stuff about how she was clinically insane and plotting treason.

            This was so out of character that I asked him privately why he now believed these things. He said the NYC field office was giving him access to everything they had on the Clintons, and if I only knew this stuff I would never vote for her. Months before McGonigal’s the place was already a crockpot for Giuliani’s “evidence” to stew, except I didn’t learn that until later.

            When I did, it made sense of my friend’s experience at last. He too had fallen victim to a movement seeking to bully truth into oblivion and replace it with raw power.

            • Patient Observer says:

              Thank you for this insight, Ginevra diBenci.

              The story of your friend brings into play my longstanding, oft-invoked system of categorization of those who spout nonsense.

              Knaves (like Bannon and Stone) disseminate what they know to be nonsense in order to manipulate the fools (e.g., most of the January 6 insurrectionist mob) who are oh-so-very eager to believe it.

              Every once in a while one encounters a case that is hard to categorize.

              As I was reading your account, I was thinking your friend to be on the knavish side, putting up posts that his New York field office friends would see as evidence that he was part of the club (even though he didn’t believe it).

              However, his having explained his belief in earnest to you makes clear that it was not pretense. He believed it.

              And so arises a further conundrum. You related, “He said the NYC field office was giving him access to everything they had on the Clintons, and if I only knew this stuff I would never vote for her.”

              It is understandable enough that a certain kind of person possessing scant sophistication would readily buy into nonsense peddled by the likes of Dinesh D’Souza and Breitbart.

              But your friend, a SAC who had looked at actual intelligence material that his New York field office colleagues shared with him? That’s a stranger case.

              I mean, what was he seeing? Clinton Foundation stuff that, while true, was blown out of proportion? Fake material that was not actually true but represented by his colleagues to be?

              It is all so strange, sad and disorienting.

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                What my friend cited at the time was limited to assertions that publicly known issues (he mentioned the Clinton Foundation) involved far more malign and incriminating details that he couldn’t share–but which added up to Hillary being a sociopathic monster.

                None of it made sense until I began to learn about Giuliani’s sustained campaign to launder disinformation through that office; this was disinformation, eagerly disseminated by a group of men whose motivation (aside from loyalty to Rudy) remains opaque.

                That they were almost all men (at least the ones in power) has never seemed coincidental. My friend had never been part of that culture before, but it seemed to intoxicate. In every way, he lost his bearings.

                • Alexi says:

                  What I’ve believed from the outset the Trump/Russia political shenanigans is that for everyone involved on the Pro-Trump/Pro-Russia side had no real interest in supporting Trump. Even Trump never intended to win the Presidency. It was all and only geared to destroy what they saw as an inevitable Hillary presidency. It was meant to destroy our democratic norms and Trump was simply happy to make as much money off of it as he could. And then… he won. And we lost. We’ve been through the ringer and in the spin cycle ever since.

                  Trump wasn’t necessarily supported BY Russia; Trump was SUPPORTING RUSSIA in their war against the US, Pax-Americana and democracy. IMO that’s treason. Legally is it treason? I don’t know. But we were attacked by a foreign adversary and he aided them in that attack and then assisted in covering it up. May they all rot.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Trump wasn’t necessarily supported BY Russia; Trump was SUPPORTING RUSSIA in their war against the US, Pax-Americana and democracy. IMO that’s treason. Legally is it treason? I don’t know. But we were attacked by a foreign adversary and he aided them in that attack and then assisted in covering it up. May they all rot.

                    I’m rather surprised bmaz let this go without a rebuttal. No, Trump was supported by Russia; he never would have been POTUS without their help though how their aid worked is still being teased out all these years later. No, what Trump did is NOT treason.

                    I don’t how many goddamned times we’ve had to explain what the legal definition of treason is over the last handful of years and it still doesn’t get through that
                    1 — treason is defined in the Constitution (Article III, Section 3) and in Title 18 USC 2381–Treason;
                    2 — the definitions in both require an enemy, which means there must exist a declared state of war and with it an identified belligerent nation/state opponent;
                    3 — the Constitution and 18 USC 2381 are based upon traditional kinetic warfare.

                    Russia may be hostile to the U.S., its liberal democracy, its alliance with NATO and with NATO, but until NATO Article 5 has been triggered and response activated, further acknowledged by Congress, there’s no state of war and no formal enemy.

                    Read up on sedition, obstruction of government proceedings, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. as well as Honest Services fraud. It’s a lot closer to what Trump has done to this country, with and without foreign assistance from Russia and other countries hostile to our liberal democracy.

  7. Konny_2022 says:

    “The overt acts described in his two indictments (SDNY, DC) only start in 2017 … ”
    The links associated with SDNY and DC respectively lead to the same document (if provided from different servers).

  8. flounder says:

    While McGonigal wasn’t actually part of the NY FBI office until “end of October” 2016, what are the chances he was read into the Weiner Laptop stuff earlier than that, in anticipation of him coming over and ready to jump right in?

    • Desider says:

      Kallstrom (ex-NY FBI) & Rudy were all over news in Sept – not a lot of time for McGonical to be involved with NY:
      Sept 21 Post breaks story
      Oct 3: FBI seize Weiner’s laptop
      Oct 4: “Mr. McGonigal will assume this new role at the end of October.”
      Oct 26 Rudy went on Fox Oct 27, Comey briefed, discusses with wife
      Oct 28 Comey announcement

      • flounder says:

        Thanks. The POS report that DOJ put out on the matter basically says that so many people out of NY FBI office were leaking that it was impossible to narrow it down enough to make a real investigation out of it, so I don’t think he was like a single source or anything, but just because he didn’t walk into his physical office in NY until late October doesn’t mean he wasn’t in on the group ratfuck.

        • Desider says:

          Too wildly speculative – you could say that about anyone.
          This ain’t Twitter.
          Plus hard to say how he’d even help them vs hurt their effort & expose himself.

  9. harpie says:

    This morning, Marcy retweeted this 11/2/20 [day before election day] Jason LEOPOLD tweet:

    https://twitter.com/JasonLeopold/status/1323306763148353544
    11:51 AM · Nov 2, 2020

    NEW via my #FOIA to FBI about Trump’s tweets

    This is a Nov 24, 2017 email between an unnamed FBI agent & Charles McGonigal, the special agent in charge of the CI Division in NY

    I’ve learned that the SDNY “case” referenced here that Erdogan would raise w/Trump is Halkbank [screenshot of email] [link to NYT article]

    Article:
    Turkish Bank Case Showed Erdogan’s Influence With Trump New details of the Justice Department’s handling of the accusations against Halkbank reveal how Turkey’s leader pressured the president, prompting concern from top White House aides

    Marcy wrote about that 10/29/20 NYT article here:

    TRUMP’S SLOW-MOTION COVER-UP OF ERDOGAN CORRUPTION AND JEFF SESSIONS’ MEETING WITH MIKE FLYNN’S CLIENTS https://www.emptywheel.net/2020/10/29/trumps-slow-motion-cover-up-of-erdogan-corruption-and-jeff-sessions-meeting-with-mike-flynns-clients/

    • harpie says:

      From the 11/24/17 email to Mcgonigal:

      From: [redacted] (NY)(FBI)
      Date: 11/24/17 8:57 AM (GMT-5:00)
      To: “Mcgonigal, Charles F.” (NY)(FBI)
      Subject: CES

      […] Sorry to bother you, but CES and SDNY are having a call later this morning and it might help if you weighed in with [redacted paragraph]

      There will be a call between SDNY and CES at 11:00 this morning. A call from you to CES just voicing the view that the investigation supports these charges would be helpful – that voices support for SDNY without us getting into the legal arguments we’re not qualified to weigh in on.

      The loss won’t take the primary charges against [3 lines redacted]

      Additionally, Trump tweeted this morning that he will be having a telephone call today with the Turkish President to solve the Middle East problems. I’m sure Erdogan will manage to squeeze in a few words about this [Leopold says Halkbank] case though. […]

      Here is TRUMP’s tweet about TURKEY from that day:
      [quote]
      Nov 24th 2017 – 7:04:13 AM EST Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!

  10. bgThenNow says:

    April 27, 2018: McGonigal pitched by two people in Germany to get involved in Bosnian affairs, facilitates an introduction to US Ambassador to UN.

    Nicki Haley was the 29th United States ambassador to the United Nations for two years, from January 2017 through December 2018.

  11. Tech Support says:

    So as I’m understanding it, there’s nothing about McG’s indictment that produces an “a ha” moment for the things EW has been covering/researching in recent years. At least not based on what we currently know.

    Reviewing the timeline in this post, it seems to me that one possible are where he could have some prior influence is with Manafort. The sequence of events is unclear in my mind, but is it possible that disclosures from McG to Deripaska could have led to or encouraged Manafort’s strategy of pretending to cooperate? Wouldn’t having a clearer sense of what the prosecution does/doesn’t know make it easier to implement that tactic?

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh. Lots of possible a has. Just not the same ones everyone is leaping to, bc I’m doing the math on which pieces were where.

      And yes, I agree, Manafort is a big part of this. It was fairly stunning how TradMed downplayed Manafort’s criminal ties to Deripaska.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Is it possible that McGonigal in his early 2016 work that became part of Crossfire Hurricane came across information incriminating enough that his posting to NYC was an attempt to neuter his ability to pursue it further? He seems like kind of a mess personally, and he sold his access for chump change relatively speaking. The timing of DOJ’s investigation/indictment fits perfectly into Durham’s composition of his report–he can use McGonigal as an example of “corruption” among the Russia investigators, and sign it all with a flourish.

  12. Tom R. says:

    Searchable PDF versions of the McGonigal indictments are available here.

    Each PDF is accompanied by an HTML file that you can search, or easily convert to plain text and then attack with the usual text-munging tools. Also, the folder has an index.html file.

    The two indictments are:
    — McGonigal (DC: falsification)
    — McGonigal and Shestakov (SDNY: conspiracy, IEEPA, money laundering)

    The OCR is vastly better than nothing, but I find the quality to be marginal in ways that are hard to describe: With some PDF readers, the search function works perfectly. In others, it will get you to the right page but not closer than that. The copy-and-paste functions are even more flaky, so you probably want to use the HTML version for that.

    ===

    Tangentially related: Searchable PDF versions of 272 January-6th-related documents (depositions and such) are available here.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      Since we’re on a tangent about PDFs*….
      Does anyone have access to the original PDFs of witness transcripts published by the Jan6 committee? These are the non-OCR’ed versions, not the OCR’ed version that the GPO has up?
      For a variety of reasons**, I’d like to be able to access those versions of the transcripts.

      *I have become mostly a lurker here, but if you put “PDF” in your comment more than three times, I’m likely to show up.

      **Would be happy to explain why I want them, if anyone cares (trust me, if you’re not sure if you care, you don’t).

        • bmaz says:

          It was really swell of the high holy J6 Committee to finally release everything as they were walking out the door and the Republicans walking in. Frankly, the J6 Committee ought be considered for hindering prosecution and/or obstruction; they truly sucked.

          • Alexi says:

            I get the concern. But if they don’t release publicly it goes directly to DOJ and there’s no leads for investigative reporters to follow and too much of it can just be blackholed.
            With info in the public space we can at least have a reference point as to what they’ve left on the editing room floor vs what they choose to chase down. I think we needed that badly. Faith/patience with/in in the DOJ is low. We’ve watched years of in your face criming* and zero accountability. The public needs to know where investigations stand as of now. It also helps us see the GOP coverup for what it is because we have enough intel (testimony) in the public space to identify the gaslighting as it happens.

            • bmaz says:

              Fair. But, as someone who still deals with the DOJ, they are not currently that bad, and certainly not at an all time “low”.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          Those are from the Government Printing Office. They were scanned from paper into searchable PDFs. I need the originals (because they were generated from the court reporters’ software. A bit of a long story.

          • Tom R. says:

            @WilliamOckham:

            1) The 272 PDF documents on the GOP site were made from images, but the images were not scanned. They were never on paper. In fact they are pixelatim perfect digital renderings of the original electronic texts, with redactions.

            2) Those docs also have a text layer, in addition to the image layer. So they are searchable. This is new; the files as originally released on the committee site did not have a text layer. Evidently somebody, at the GPO perhaps, OCRed the images. It’s a good but not perfect OCR job. I have the tools to significantly improve the text layer, but haven’t cranked out any results yet.

            3) As for the concept of converting text to images image and back to text: This allows the committee to feel confident the redactions can’t be undone. This is fundamentally a ridiculous concept, but text-level redactions have failed often enough that one can sorta understand why they feel that way. The original text, straight from the stenographers, is not gonna be released any time soon.

            4) We should probably take this offline. If the mods will please email my email address to you, we can discuss your long story. Whatever you want to do can probably be done without access to the unredacted stenographic text.

  13. gmoke says:

    It seemed clear to me, and I may very well be wrong as I’m looking from far outside and have no practical experience, that Trmp was systematically dismantling the counter-intelligence capacity of USAmerica in the CIA, FBI, NSA….

    This is another example of how foreign powers (not only Russia or China but also Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many others) have been targeting our intelligence capacity. Or is that “intelligence”?

  14. Zinsky123 says:

    This is a fascinating thread in the whole ornate fabric of the Trump-Russia saga and it is very helpful to lay out the timeline of McDonigal’s misdeeds against the backdrop of all the various Russia investigations. His connection to the Alfa Bank incident(s) is particularly intriguing, as I always felt there was more to it than was being shared with the general public. As if someone were purposefully withholding key cyber details to muddy the waters and make it look like innocent ad traffic. Kudos again to EW for peering through the windows in a unique way!

  15. Tom R. says:

    This makes contact with a topic that has come up a hundred times in this forum, not to mention elsewhere: Why has Garland not moved faster? More than one answer can be true at the same time. Yes, due process always take time, and yes, a lot of stuff happens behind the scenes. That’s important and 100% true, but there are other factors in play also. Garland has a personnel security problem. Not just McGonigal, and not just GdB’s friend, and not just NYFO. No matter how fast Garland wanted to move, it was going to take him a good long while to put together a team that could be trusted.

    This also makes contact with the 2016 Comey scandal. He emphatically denies that the decision to spring the October surprise was forced on him because the NYFO was about leak the story, perhaps within hours, if he didn’t announce it himself. I believe his denial only halfway at most. Maybe he decided on other grounds, but even so, absent those grounds his hand would have been forced anyway.

    Assembling a large team is like building anything else with thousands of parts. If there’s to be any hope of successful operation, each part has to be extremely reliable; 99% reliability is nowhere near good enough. A single fifth columnist can sabotage the whole operation.

    This was a problem for years before 2016. It was Comey’s job to fix it, and he didn’t. The problem got much worse under his successors. Garland has a huge mess on his hands, with no easy way to fix it.

    • atriana smith says:

      Comey was only responsible for the FBI. He tried to act like he was AG, tho.

      Comparing the two men is pretty ridiculous.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Apologies, Tom R. The first time I read your comment I didn’t catch that you were referring to my FBI friend. I don’t see him as a security risk, at least not the way you seem to mean. His life did explode in ways the bureau identifies as rendering someone at risk, but the intelligence agencies invest heavily in their agents, which includes seeing them through recovery from breakdowns. Nothing I know suggests he was compromised by external forces.

      In other words, he is not McGonigal. He worked with him, from his position outside the NYC office that brought him into frequent and intense contact with that office.

      • Tom R. says:

        Suppose I’m managing a football team, I’m not gonna hire Itzhak Perlman to play quarterback. That doesn’t mean he’s a traitor or a spy. It just means he’s not qualified for that particular job. I’ll find something else for him to play.

        Similarly, an FBI manager needs to distinguish disinformation from genuine evidence, with high reliability, because we are relying on him for that. If his judgment is clouded by conspiracy theories and/or partisan hatred, that doesn’t mean he’s a traitor or a spy. It does however mean he needs to find a different line of work.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Tom R., I’m not sure what your point is here. What you call “partisan hatred and conspiracy theories” seemed (to me) to become the dominant operating philosophy of that entire NYC office in 2016, and after. Beyond a certain point, resistance seemed futile: this was, after all, the FBI.

          I’ve been watching, finally, Ken Burns’ documentary about America and the Holocaust, which provides a stark lesson in how we become complicit in our own self-deceit, because being ejected by our tribe feels unbearable.

          And in the 1930’s the public had excuses, like paucity of information, that we don’t now. If anything we have too much, and only our own compasses to rely on to sort out its meaning. Today we can find “proof” of any concept once committed to; the problem, as always, is our human susceptibility to pressure from others to conform.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              bmaz, I don’t know what you mean by “speaking for this blog,” something I would never conceive of doing. And I have no idea what it is you’re asking me to “tell.” I thought my comment spoke for itself.

              You are trolling me here, probably because of the discussion with Jenny about addressing Marcy Wheeler as “Doctor.” Maybe not.

              While I typically find your insights and contributions valuable and try to respond in kind (remember: you have the evidence), when you are merely trolling me, I’m adopting a policy of not responding.

              Just so you know.

  16. jgcOCANADA says:

    Is there any curiosity about exFBI Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, who was sent to Kyiv in the last half of 2015 to assist on “Russian counterintelligence/cyber” (as he said in a March 2022 interview on C-SPAN) concerning Ukraine anti-corruption issues? Did Fitzpatrick report to Charles McGonigal, or get direction from McGonigal during this time?

    Fitzpatrick is now serving on both GOP House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees. He was one of the GOP congressmen who got campaign donations from Igor Fruman in the 2020 (?) election cycle. In 2019 while serving on Foreign Affairs, Fitzpatrick refused to attend the SCIF Trump/Ukraine witness testimony, dismissing it as a “zoo” and a “three-ring circus” on local talk radio, then went on to vote against Trump’s first impeachment.

    While still an FBI agent, late in 2015, upon arriving back to the US from Ukraine–in the space of about 2 months– Fitzpatrick filed for divorce from his wife, moved from California (where he had been based at the FBI Los Angeles field office) back to his childhood home of Bucks County, PA, quit his 14-year employment with the FBI, and announced his candidacy for US Congress, running for the seat then occupied by his brother Mike (who was retiring.)

    Fitzpatrick is known for being a “moderate” Republican, but he has taken some curious positions to protect Trump over the years. He is quite strong on his support of Ukraine now, but was conspicuously silent about Trump’s attempts to undermine and extort the Ukrainian government’s national security in 2019. Is there anything there to look for?

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Because your comment was 260 words long — longer than most effective comments at 100 words — I’ve taken the liberty of inserting three paragraph breaks to make your comment easier for community members to read. Please break long blocks of text in future comments. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  17. Bay State Librul says:

    BMAZ

    …. the J6 Committee ought be considered for hindering prosecution and/or obstruction; they truly sucked.

    To your point, I think Kevin and his “tough-guys-don’t-dance” Committee chairs will be eyeballing the J6. They will be looking for evidence of fallibility.

  18. RyanEvans says:

    The NY Post has an article out mentioning that McGonigal apparently had another Russian client, hotelier Vladislav Doronin. The Post mentions that when McGonigal was arrested at the airport on his return from Sri Lanka, he may have been working for Doronin, who has two hotels there. Doronin says he cut ties with Russia 8 years ago, and isn’t on a US sanctions list, so this may not be important. An interesting puzzle piece.
    https://nypost.com/2023/01/26/ex-fbi-official-charles-mcgonigal-worked-for-more-than-one-russian-billionaire/

      • RyanEvans says:

        So in summary, known post-FBI income includes Manafort ally Deripaska, Kushner ally Brookfield Partners, close Trump business partner Doronin.

        Oh but his estranged wife was once on an email cc-list about high school lacrosse with one of the Biden grandkids so clearly he’s a Dem.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thank you, Ryan Evans. That arrest at the airport was bugging me; I wanted to know whether it was an arrival or departure, and what destination. I appreciate you filling in the information, along with the Doronin mention.

    • RyanEvans says:

      The article also mentions that Guerriero was introduced to McGonigal by William Sweeney, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI New York Field Office (at some point – I haven’t looked up when he held that position or whether he still does.)

      It is pretty suggestive – a woman who is close enough to Giuliani that he lets her stay in his house, close to Sweeney and then to McGonigal. It puts McGonigal, Sweeney and Giuliani not just in the same professional circles, but in close social circles.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I think we should all be looking closely at Sweeney’s machinations here, along with how this figures into the Barr-Durham crusade. Because I’m betting it will. McGonigal makes too easy a patsy for them to waste.

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