The Other Albanian Stuff
[NB: check the byline, thanks. This post contains some speculative content. /~Rayne]
Albania is a tiny country. Its population is a little smaller than that of Kansas, all living in a land mass the size of Massachusetts or Hawaii. The U.S. has six counties which are larger in area, and six which are larger in population.
It seems rather odd that two different stories related to Rudy Giuliani happened to involve Albania given its relative size.
While Giuliani was politicking an exiled Iranian dissident/terrorist group each year, often in Albania where the exiles waited regime change, an FBI special agent was schmoozing Albanians about oil drilling rights among other things.
What are the chances these two story arcs are wholly unrelated?
Items in the following timeline related to Charles McGonigal including some related to Russia are in italics; Albanian-specific items are noted in boldface.
– – –
2014-2019 — Giuliani met with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, or Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK) at least once each year; he never registered under FARA, appearing at MEK-related events in Poland, Albania, Paris and Washington (NBC News, Oct 2019)
– – –
April 2017 — Approximate time relationship between then-Special Agent Charles McGonigal and Allison Guerriero began (earliest date of requested documents from Nov. 2021 subpoena)
Spring 2017 — Giuliani and ally Michael Mukasey met with Iranian dissident group MEK.
01-JUL-2017 — John Bolton met with MEK members in Paris, advocating Trump admin push for regime change in Iran.
17-JUL-2017 — John Bolton tweeted, “Withdrawing from the Iran #NuclearDeal should be a top @realDonaldTrump administration priority.”
05-SEP-2017 — Date given in the DC District indictment for second count against McGonigal, for false statements under 18 USC 1001(a)(2), related to filing of an FD-772b for travel beginning two days later.
07-SEP-2017 — McGonigal met with Person A and negotiated terms of compensation; he traveled by air with Person A to Albania, met Person B and other foreign nationals.
09-SEP-2017 — McGonigal met with Person B and Albania‘s Prime Minister, during which McGonigal lobbied against Albania awarding oil field drilling licenses to Russian front companies. Person A and Person B both had financial interests in Albania‘s award decision.
September 2017 — While in Albania, Person A introduced McGonigal to an Albanian businessperson/politician who asked McGonigal to launch an investigation into an alleged plot to kill the Albanian businessperson/politician.
10-SEP-2017 — McGonigal traveled with Person A and others, from Albania to Kosovo. He met a Kosovar politician. McGonigal then returned to the US with Person A, traveling together.
September 2017 — McGonigal continued a relationship with Albania‘s prime minister after returning from Albania.
Fall 2017 — McGonigal received cash from Person A at Person A’s residence in separate payments of $80,000 and $65,000. McGonigal told Person A the money would be paid back.
05-OCT-2017 — Allison Guerriero saw “a bag full of cash” in FBI’s SA Charles McGonigal’s Park Slope apartment.
16-OCT-2017 — Date given for third count against McGonigal, for false statements under 18 USC 1001(a)(2), related to filing of an FD-772b.
15-NOV-2017 — Date given for fourth count against McGonigal, for false statements under 18 USC 1001(a)(2). McGonigal submitted a false FD-772 in advance of “official” travel to Austria. He did not disclose Person A was traveling with him; he did not indicate travel expenses would be covered by another party; he did not indicate he would be traveling to Albania as well as Austria; he did not disclose any other expected foreign contacts.
17-NOV-2017 — McGonigal flew to Austria.
18-NOV-2017 — With Person A acting as an interpreter, McGonigal along with a DOJ prosecutor (?!) interviewed the Albanian businessperson/politician McGonigal met in September. McGonigal did not submit paperwork for authorization of interpreter services or their payment, nor was an official FBI record filed of the interview.
18-NOV-2017 — McGonigal and Person A traveled from Austria to Albania after the interview, meeting again with the Albanian businessperson/politician. No DOJ prosecutor was present. The Albanian businessperson/politician discussed business opportunities with McGonigal and Person A.
21-NOV-2017 — McGonigal flew from Albania to Austria and then the US. Neither McGonigal nor the FBI paid for his lodging during his stay in Albania.
24-NOV-2017 — McGonigal received information from Person B about a US citizen registered to lobby on behalf of a Albanian political party in opposition to the Albanian PM’s party.
25-NOV-2017 — McGonigal informed the DOJ prosecutor involved in the November 18 interview of a potential new criminal investigation involving the US citizen who was a lobbyist for an Albanian opposition party.
December 2017 — Washington DC: McGonigal dined with Person A and Albanian government officials. New York City: McGonigal dined with Person A and Albania‘s PM.
– – –
04-JAN-2018 — McGonigal received information from Person A about the Albanian opposition party’s US citizen-lobbyist. He forwarded the information to another FBI NY special agent on 05-JAN-2018.
22-JAN-2018 — Date given for fifth count against McGonigal, for false statements under 18 USC 1001(a)(2). McGonigal filed a false FD-772b about the November trip to Austria. He did not report his trip to Albania; he did not report his meeting with Person B or Albania‘s PM; he did not report he had disclosed his FBI employment to foreign nationals on non-FBI business.
21-FEB-2018 — Through 24-FEB, McGonigal traveled with Person A to Albania without reporting the trip on FD-772 or FD-772b forms.
26-FEB-2018 — FBI-NY opened a criminal investigation into the Albanian opposition party’s US citizen-lobbyist at McGonigal’s request. FBI-NY later identified Person A as a confidential human source for the investigation; Person A provided information during the investigation. At a later date, Person B helped facilitate a meeting between FBI-NY and witnesses in Europe, including paying for witness travel expenses. McGonigal did not report his relationship with Person A, nor did he report contacts with Person B on form FD-981 as required.
04-MAR-2018 — McGonigal shared a meal with Person A, Albania‘s PM, a former FBI special agent who then worked at an international professional services firm and others in Washington DC.
20-MAR-2018 — Giuliani met with MEK leader Rajavi at MEK event in Tirana, Albania.
22-MAR-2018 — Trump announced by tweet that John Bolton would become National Security Adviser.
06-APR-2018 — Treasury Dept. identifies Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska as a Specially Designated National (SDN) subject to sanctions.
09-APR-2018 — John Bolton began as National Security Adviser.
26-APR-2018 — Through May 2, McGonigal traveled with Person A to Europe including Albania; he did not report the travel on FD-772 or FD-772b forms.
27-APR-2018 — McGonigal met with Person C (a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Person D (a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina) in Germany. C and D asked to meet with the US Ambassador to the United Nations or another high-level US govt. official to request US support for a political purpose affecting Bosnia and Herzegovina.
08-MAY-2018 — McGonigal asked FBI’s liaison to UN for assistance arranging a meeting requested by Person C and Person D.
08-MAY-2018 — Trump unilaterally exited the P5+1 JCPOA agreement with Iran.
09-MAY-2018 — US to reimpose sanctions on Iran — 180-day countdown to implementation began.
Spring-Summer 2018 — Deripaska’s connection, former translator for Russian Federation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sergey Shestakov, asks McGonigal to help Agent-1 obtain an internship for Agent-1’s daughter in counterterror/intel/international relations. McGonigal agreed.
10-JUN-2018 — Date given for sixth count against McGonigal, for false statements under 18 USC 1001(a)(2). Until May 2019, McGonigal created and submitted a false OGE-278 report which failed to include $225,000 in payments from Person A. An eighth count was charged under 18 USC 1519 for falsification of a record or document.
25-JUN-2018 — McGonigal proposed to Person A that Person A and Company A contract with Person D and Person D’s pharma company, by which Company A would be paid $500,000 by Person D and their pharma company (located in Bosnia and Herzegovina) in exchange for arranging a meeting between Person D’s pharmaco and a US delegation rep to the UN.
28/30-JUN-2018 — German, French and Belgian police broke up an assassination/terror plot to set off an explosive device at an MEK gathering in Paris. Iranian intelligence (MOIS) was believed to be behind the plot; Giuliani had been in attendance at the event. Four Iranians were eventually arrested including Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian intelligence officer assigned to Vienna under diplomatic cover.
01-JUL-2018 — McGonigal sent electronic message to Person A confirming he resent proposed contract, asking Person A to protect his name.
03-JUL-2018 — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Switzerland and Austria to attempt to salvage the JCPOA.
18-JUL-2018 — Person A proposed the contract to Person D as described on 25-JUN.
26-JUL-2018 — McGonigal provided to FBI’s UN liaison dates proposed for a meeting requested by Persons C and D.
06-AUG-2018 — First series of sanctions reengaged and next 180-day countdown began.
13-AUG-2018 — During a meeting, McGonigal provided information to a senior official for US delegation to UN about the meeting request by Persons C and D. McGonigal didn’t disclose Person A’s financial interest or McGonigal’s financial relationship with Person A.
22-AUG-2018 — Giuliani lobbied Romania on behalf of Freeh Group; Freeh’s client was not specified. Giuliani’s letter was in opposition to U.S. State Dept. policy on Romanian anticorruption efforts.
September 2018 — Charles McGonigal left FBI and began working as Senior VP at Brookfield Properties, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management which is owned in part by Qatar. Brookfield signed a 99-year lease on Jared Kushner’s 666 5th Avenue building in August 2018.
04-NOV-2018 — Second series of sanctions reengaged including purchasing fossil fuels from Iranian oil companies.
Late 2018 — McGonigal broke up with Guerriero. “A few months later” she ratted on McGonigal to William Sweeney, FBI-NY office.
– – –
2019 — Shestakov and McGonigal introduced Agent-1 to an international law firm so that Agent-1 could work to have Deripaska delisted as an SDN, lifting sanctions. Throughout the year, McGonigal traveled to meet Deripaska in London and Vienna at Deripaska’s residences. The law firm was to pay McGonigal $25,000 out of $175,000 it received for its services to Agent-1.
XX-FEB-2019 — Trump discussed replacements for DNI.
06-MAY-2019 — Date given for first count against McGonigal, for concealment of material facts under 18 USC 1001(a)(1) for filing false forms FD-772, FD-772b, FD-981, and OGE-278 which did not include information about his travel, compensation for travel-related expenses, relationships with foreign nationals, and the $225,000 received from Person A. The OGE-278 filed after his retirement was submitted this date for which a seventh count was charged under 18 USC 1001(a)(2). A ninth count was charged under 18 USC 1519 for falsification of a record or document.
20-JUN-2019 — In retaliation for downing a U.S. drone, Trump approved strikes on Iran which were abruptly aborted.
11-JUL-2019 — Giuliani spoke to MEK in Albania and met with its leader Maryam Rajavi.
28-JUL-2019 — Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ departure and John Ratcliffe nominated as replacement announced by Trump via Twitter. (Ratcliffe later removed himself from consideration.)
08-AUG-2019 — Primary Deputy Director DNI Sue Gordon resigned effective 15-AUG-2019, without additional prior notice, as ordered. Resignation letter without handwritten note.
15-AUG-2019 — Coats’ last day as DNI.
30-AUG-2019 — Trump tweeted a high-resolution satellite image of Iran’s failed Safir SLV launch while claiming the U.S. was not involved. The image may have been classified and ‘insta-declassified’ by Trump.
09-SEP-2019 — Trump asked for Bolton’s resignation and tweeted about it the next morning.
10-SEP-2019 — Bolton tells Fox’s Brian Kilmeade by text that he quit.
11-SEP-2019 — Bloomberg reported Bolton pushed back Monday-Tuesday at Trump over Iran sanctions; Bolton wanted maximum pressure while Trump wanted to encourage a meeting with Iran’s Rouhani later in September.
20-SEP-2019 — Mukasey registers as representative for MEK, claiming no compensation for this work; Giuliani remains unregistered.
27-DEC-2019 — K1 military base in/near Kirkuk, Iraq attacked by Kataib Hezbollah, a group linked to Iran. The group denied responsibility. A US contractor was killed and US soldiers wounded.
29-DEC-2019 — Trump ordered retaliatory airstrikes in western Iraq and eastern Syria targeting Kataib Hezbollah’s locations.
30-DEC-2019 — While golfing, Trump told Sen. Lindsey Graham about a plan to assassinate Iran’s Gen. Soleimani.
31-DEC-2019 — US Embassy-Baghdad stormed by Kataib Hezbollah. Sen. Graham tweets about meeting with Trump regarding the embassy.
31-DEC-2019 — Trump threatens Iran by tweet.
– – –
02-JAN-2020 — Trump authorizes assassination of Iran’s General Soleimani by missile strike.
March 2020 — Law firm and McGonigal’s work on behalf of Agent-1 ended.
– – –
Spring 2021 — Agent-1 negotiated with Shestakov and McGonigal to work directly for Deripaska on sanctioned matters, bypassing the law firm.
August 2021 — McGonigal, Shestakov, and Agent-1 drafted a contract for business intelligence services paid to an intermediary corporation owned by McGonigal’s “friend” who then paid McGonigal.
November 2021 — DOJ investigation of McGonigal underway; Guerriero received a subpoena.
– – –
Early Jan 2022 — McGonigal left employment at Brookfield.
Mid-July 2022 — Albania suffered a serious cyberattack for which it blamed Iranian groups.
07-SEP-2022 — Albania severed diplomatic ties with Iran over the cyberattacks; it had considered invoking Article 5 as a member of NATO.
– – –
I couldn’t help think of the relationship between Albania and Iran during the last week of January when an Iranian military industrial facility located in Isfahan province was attacked by drones which appeared to be under Israeli control.
The possibility crossed my mind that all of this effort with McGonigal working for Russians and Albanian opposition, and Giuliani and Bolton propping up MEK against Iran was intended to squeeze Albania between larger geopolitical players, possibly spreading destabilization to other neighboring countries. Montenegro, for one, has been under various forms of pressure for years by Russia because of its accession to NATO against which Russia pushed back.
Nor could I help but think of crude oil and gas market price fluctuations, and the threat to the EU due to Russia’s war on Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russia.
Where Albania fits into that picture along with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with Romania, is the Southern Gas Corridor running from Azerbaijan through Turkey and finally through Albania, with a leg to the north from Turkey through Bulgaria and Romania to Ukraine.
Have Giuliani and McGonigal been used to increase instability in Albania in order to disrupt gas distribution to NATO member states in EU?
Have both of these corrupt hacks been used to increase instability in Albania to put pressure on a couple of the smallest NATO members, including Albania’s neighbor Montenegro which also plays a role in gas pipelines to EU states?
 This item added because it seems like such an odd item. Tirana, Albania is a four-hour flight from Bucharest, Romania, though.
 This is a guesstimated amount Putin/Russian oil companies lost after Obama eased sanctions on Iranian oil during P5+1 JCPOA negotiations until the eventual implementation of the JCPOA. It does not include the amount lost after implementation.
8614.21 BBL/D/1K x 7 days x 73 weeks x -$45/BBL =
(8614.21 x 1000) x (511 days) x -$45/BBL =
Based on average daily production 1992-2022 (see: https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/crude-oil-production) and at one-half the difference between WTI’s highest price in June 2014 and its price in January 2016.
After spending too much time with this, I really want to smack the bejabbers out of McGonigal. What a corrupt motherfucker.
Indeed. Thanks for the hard work.
One of many things that stuck out was that for someone with such an important, very high security clearance job, McGonigal made a lot of non-work related foreign trips to places know to be meeting places for foreign agents, Albania and Vienna among them. Over several years. One would think such things would pop up on security clearance reviews.
Who would be watching? What excuse did he use to skate off to travel abroad? Clearly he must have a limit given the trip to Austria which appears to mask the ultimate destination Albania.
I want to know more about the FBI prosecutor who was pulled into this as well. No name provided; how were they roped into this and did they ask for any validation or did they just follow orders?
Some of my father’s co-workers claimed they weren’t allowed to go to Mexico, for fear they’d be kidnapped – this was mid-50s to mid-60s – and had FBI agents follow them at times. I don’t know if that’s true, but they did work at a national lab.
I should make it clear that in asking ‘who would be watching’ I meant who would have been McGonigal’s superiors responsible for oversight, to whom he should have made any requests for clearance to travel abroad. Apparently no one…?
As for kidnapping of U.S. federal personnel in Albania, I don’t think it’s as big a risk as Mexico remains.
I think the answer is hinted in the timeline. Remember who was POTUS then and how compromised he already was by Putin. So, I would not be surprised if there were winks and nods to remind the minders to look the other way for McGonigal. As it was, it still took the Biden administration some time to ferret him out which tells me there is more to find out about a ring.
The depth of Putin’s control over FPOTUS wasn’t well known yet, and the FBI still had a few HRC-haters willing to help out the administration because of that. After Helsinki, the realization must have set in that Vlad had FPOTUS by the short hairs and it was time to cover up.
I’ve wondered what personnel shuffling happened in FBI-NY ahead of McGonigal’s arrival.
I trust a touch of levity may not be out of place. Whenever I see Albania mentioned, I remember the episode of Cheers where Coach is tutoring Sam in geography, and sings a short ditty as mnemonic device.
You border on the Adriatic.
Your land is mostly mountainous,
And your chief export is chrome.”
That earworm got stuck in my head decades ago, and comes to mind whenever I see the word Albania. It also speaks to that nation’s strategic importance. Here’s a slightly denatured link to the YouTube clip of Coach and Sam and the lesson: https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhXDcxAM0zc
a little OT: there is a 1994 Italian film by Gianni Amelio, “Lamerica” (no apostrophe) which contrasted the “boom” years of southern Italy with the contemporaneous crushing poverty in Albania. Entering Italy at the port city of Bari, largely undocumented, “Lamerica” was the name Albanians gave to Italy at the time, bleakly echoing the southern Italian experience of coming to the US in the early 1900’s.
really OT: according to legend, Bari is where Nicholas of Myra (aka San Nicolo’) landed after being exiled from Patara (Turkey) by Diocletian in the late-third century.
Starring the brilliant Enrico Lo Verso. One of my favorite films ever.
An aside: While it’s true Rudy was shilling for the MeK for years, keep in mind it was an equal-opportunity, bi-partisan bunch of vultures in on the feed. Besides Bolton, there were: Howard Dean (ex-DNC chair), Tom Ridge (ex-homeland security chief), Bill Richardson (ex-governor New Mexico), Ed Rendell (ex-governor Pennsylvania), James Woolsey (ex-CIA director), John Sano (ex-deputy director, CIA clandestine operations), James Jones (ex-Obama national security advisor), Hugh Shelton (ex-chair, US joint chiefs of staff) , Louis Freeh (ex-FBI director), Michael Mukasey (ex-US attorney general.) Not to mention Newt Gingrich getting himself in for a little taste at the last minute. They were all shilling for the MEK while it was still listed it as a terrorist organization by State, pre-2012, at which date State decided it might be a useful stick to have in the bag after all and dropped the designation.
Reza Marashi (ex-State Department’s Iran desk) reviewed evidence against the MEK during that period of heavy lobbying and judged the terrorism designation to be appropriate.
“My former government colleagues are bewildered by the freedom of movement that a designated terrorist organization enjoys on Capitol Hill. They’re disgusted by former US government officials willing to make a quick buck by shilling for the MeK.”
I have not forgotten MEK was lobbied for on a bipartisan basis, because it was (and is) seen as an opposition party to Iran’s ruling theocracy. The group is used as a device to signal continued opposition to Iran’s status quo as well as to other interested parties.
If Putin lost at least $198 billion in oil revenues inside 73 months because Iran’s oil sanctions were lifted, and the beneficiary of sanctions relief was Iran’s theocracy, wouldn’t tweaking the theocracy’s nose send a signal to him, I mean, Russia? Hence Rudy’s continued dog-and-pony show for MEK.
“…because it was (and is) seen as an opposition party to Iran’s ruling theocracy.”
and this is what makes the whole thing stink twice as worse.
the eternal return of US foreign policy: which band of thugs and whores were/are we supporting??
by the way, Howard Dean’s feet were never held to the fire at home for his MeK honey dipping…
Really? You think progressives are going to give Howard Dean what for over interactions with an Iranian opposition group led by a woman while Iran’s theocracy has been suffocating the fuck out of women and their rights for decades?
Dean’s motivations are wholly different from Giuliani’s. Point to Dean’s Russian ass kissing.
So, after reading Snyder’s Substack post, the piece in the Philly Enquirer and your nicely done timeline Rayne, I, and I assume a whole lot of other people are very, very curious about what the hell exactly was going on in the FBI NY office.
Are we going to see any sort of investigation into that office and they way they played into so many of the events that helped Trump out at the end of the election?
Is the NYT going to take a hard public look at itself and how it fell with a vengeance for anonymous government sources that reassured them that Trump had no known ties to Russia while slamming Clinton and spinning copious articles on the reopening of “but her emails” and their woeful prognostication that she would now surely loose the election.
Or how about the fact that the Alpha Bank/Trump server wonkiness was investigated shoddily with Nothing Here to See their hasty final judgement?
It’s no wonder that the Clinton Campaign didn’t want any “help” from the FBI on that story now that we are just starting to get a fuller picture of just how anti-Clinton the NY FBI office was/is.
And it will be interesting to see what exactly Albania is doing in the middle of this other than being in the pathway of a potential pipeline. As late as the early aughts, Albania had ONE traffic light in the whole country. Thanks to Russian investment that’s changed, but it is still a very poor developing country trying to get their tourism sector going as they have amazingly beautiful undeveloped beaches- except for the ugly concrete bunkers on the shoreline from Hoxha’s paranoid dictatorship.
“Is the NYT going to take a hard public look at itself[?]”
Not bloody likely.
In Fiona Hill’s book, ‘There Is Nothing for You Here’, she mentions Albania when she describes how lax the Trump administration was in providing access:
“One Albanian conservative party politician with aspirations for higher office went to great lengths to get a picture with the president. Having failed to get an audience through diplomatic channels…”
“…the dangers of a hyperpersonalized populist presidency, in which U. S. national security interests could be superseded by political opportunists…”
> Tirana, Albania is a four-hour flight from Bucharest, Romania, though.
Less, if you fly private: they’re only 385 miles apart.
“this contains some speculative content … but it would be irresponsible not to speculate”.
Rayne, thank you for connecting so many dots. That’s one of the things that amazes me about so many posts on this site – the level of attention to detail is freaking amazing.
Yes, you are connecting dots, and that requires a certain amount of guesswork, and you might have gotten some connections wrong, but THE DOTS YOU LISTED OFF ARE THERE, whether you connect them or not.
Given the amount of interconnected skullduggery we’ve seen in recent history, it’s more remarkable when you find things that could be connected, but aren’t.
Am I the only one on earth who, on reading about shenanigans in Albania immediately flash back to MI5, the CIA, Kim Philby and King Zog? I bet Chris Andrews and Stefan Halper have raised their eyebrows. Or is that just the bone-deep historian in me?
It’s Andrew without the s, and yes, both Andrew and Halper are probably wearing their eyebrows in their hairlines.
All of it is very familiar.
If I’d turned around and looked at my bookshelf I’d have been correct. But the guys were using the compressor, my Dog was going nutty and the mice-hunters were setting traps thruout the study. Many, many years of familiarity with all these folks – so much so that for the last four years of my federal employment I stayed stum.
When I glanced at this post before reading it, the first thing that popped into my head was that secret tape that Lev Parnas made when he met with Trump. Ukraine was the topic. But buried briefly in the discussion was Parnas trying to persuade Trump into some kind of gas pipeline from Turkey.
It may have been about Naftogaz and the LNG deal that Parnas and Fruman were pushing. Or it may have been that plus something else. But Parnas made a point of telling Trump it involved Turkey, not Russia.
Interestingly, one of the men that Parnas and Fruman tried to make a deal with was Harry Sargeant III, an energy and shipping magnate from Florida. The lawyer representing Sargeant was Chris Kise (now representing Trump.) But it appears that no deal was made with Parnas and Fruman.
Speaking of Fruman, in addition to ties to Giuliani, Fruman’s ties to Manafort go back to 2008. And Manafort has a connection to Deripaska and Montenegro.
Yup, yup, a-yup. When you look at the map for Montenegro in relation to gas pipelines operating and planned, it all make sense.
All the old familiar faces…Remember these? Ha, ha, there are 2 with Mike Huckabee. I’m still thinking he might be the book author connected in some way to the compilation found in Trump’s desk drawer. Just a WAG, though.
“Lev Parnas and His Powerful Republican Friends: A Photo Album”
Parnas sure was a thorough chap when it came to documenting contacts. Why, it’s as if it was his job!