The May 2017 Report Tying Oleg Deripaska to Russian Intelligence

I’m working on a longer post about the sentencing submissions (McGonigal; SDNY) for Charles McGonigal’s SDNY case — the former head of counterintelligence for FBI’s New York Field Office. He will be sentenced in that case on Friday; he will be sentenced in his DC case in February.

The submission for McGonigal submitted by former Bill Barr flunkie Seth DuCharme argued that McGonigal’s crime, researching a rival oligarch for Oleg Deripaska after he retired in 2018, is no big deal because DOJ has sanctioned Deripaska’s rival, Vladimir Potanin, since that time.

[W]hen compared to other conduct for which the government has brought criminal charges, it bears repeating that here the crime was clearly malum prohibitum rather than malum in se—in other words, the defendant’s intent in agreeing to provide an SDN with information to be used for business competition purposes is far less serious than the criminal conduct in other IEEPA-related cases. [links added]

DuCharme asks for a probation sentence.

As you can imagine, SDNY has a lot to say about that in response. DuCharme, whom PACER does not show as having taken many, if any defendant, through sentencing since he left DOJ in 2021, really invited SDNY to throw a lot of damaging information at McGonigal.

One thing SDNY did was explain why McGonigal knew working for Deripaska was more damaging than that. One thing they note is that in January 2018, before he left the FBI, McGonigal reviewed a list of oligarchs, including Deripaska, under consideration for sanctions.

McGonigal knew full well that Deripaska was sanctioned. As SAC, McGonigal supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska. (PSR ¶ 19).


And in January 2018, McGonigal 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 attack on Ukraine. (PSR ¶ 19).

That detail was in the indictment.

As SAC, McGonigal supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, incl uding 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 .

But there’s a detail DOJ has since gotten declassified, one of those “other things” only alluded to in the indictment: before McGonigal started pursuing ties with Albania while still at FBI, he received a report “stating that Deripaska was associated with a Russian intelligence agency.”

Among other things, in May 2017, McGonigal received a then-classified email stating that Deripaska was associated with a Russian intelligence agency, and possibly involved in that agency’s coup attempt in another country. (PSR ¶ 19).

By context, the agency must be GRU and the attempted coup must be Montenegro, a country implicated in McGonigal’s other prosecution — one where Paul Manafort had an extensive history with Deripaska and one mentioned in Andrew Weissmann’s Team M report. See also this post Rayne wrote on related topics.

In other words, this strongly suggests that in the same month when Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to investigate how GRU tampered in the 2016 election, McGonigal received a report tying Deripaska to the GRU.

Then he went on to agree to work for Deripaska anyway, hoping to make millions from a guy with a key role in the 2016 attack on American democracy.

And Bill Barr’s flunkie, Seth DuCharme — the guy who helped set up a way for Rudy Giuliani to share information from Russian-backed Ukrainians to be funneled to the Hunter Biden investigation — thinks that McGonigal should be sentenced to probation as a result.

21 replies
  1. RipNoLonger says:

    Have to wonder how many years McGonigal was being groomed before he was caught openly communicating with the Russians. He had a fairly long career in the FBI dealing with counter-terrorism and espionage. I really doubt that he would suddenly take up a new career without having researched and enacted on earlier opportunities.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      From p. 31: The defendant requests “all information supporting his position that his concerns regarding fraud during the 2020 election . . . were plausible and maintained in good faith.”

      My translation: My sister used to do my homework for me. Now it’s your turn, SCO.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Pretty much. Trump doesn’t want the absurdly massive discovery he’s asking for; he certainly doesn’t want to pay his lawyers to review it all before trial. He wants the prosecution to waste weeks or months chasing it down, so that they have less time to tend to necessary things, and to delay the start of his trial.

        Judge Chutkan is unlikely to be responsive to Trump’s repetitive and increasingly outrageous demands, especially as he cites no law or facts to support them. Within the limits imposed on her by appellate courts, she seems bound and determined to keep to her trial date.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The DoJ’s response only pertains to and opposes Trump’s motion to ridiculously expand discovery. The money quote:

      The defendant’s view of discovery is untethered to any statute, rule, or case, and lacks both specificity and justification. The information he seeks is not in the Government’s possession, in many cases does not appear to exist, and in any event is not discoverable pursuant to Brady, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16, or any other authority. The defendant’s motions should be denied.

      Makes Trump’s motion sound frivolous.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The prosecution’s description of how Trump misapplies the facts and law in this motion pretty much applies to Trump’s lawyering in all his current cases:

      “Because he cannot satisfy the relevant test, the defendant invents his own standard, misapplies district caselaw, and contorts facts to his liking.”

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Yes, earl, I read Smith’s reply with the constant hope that his rational and seemingly irrefutable points would carry the day. Trump’s demands are beyond absurd; in this context they seem even to veer beyond the “playing to the crowd” tactic of many of his team’s submissions. I mean, how much of the Fox audience understands Brady?

  2. Zinsky123 says:

    According to reporting from The Guardian in 2021, Putin convened a Russian national security council meeting on 1/22/16, where the original orders to support a “mentally unstable Donald Trump” were given:

    Sergei Shoigu, then defense minister, who was in charge of the GRU, and Alexander Bortnikov, the boss of the FSB spy agency were both apparently at this meeting. The hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s e-mails followed short weeks or months later and we continue to pay the price for that perfidy. Paul Manafort was also essentially “owned” by Oleg Deripaska, an important oligarch, and had sworn to do everything in his power to undermine nascent democracy in Ukraine. In 2016, this treachery was exported to the United States. The Manafort connection to the Kremlin has been under-reported, in my estimation, After being pardoned wrongfully by Trump, this traitor is still walking freely among us. As someone has said – “All roads lead back to Putin!”

    • emptywheel says:

      I really approach Luke Harding with caution. Some of his sources have been unreliable.

      Plus, the plan was started even before January 2016 — almost certainly at least by September 2015.

  3. Sussex Trafalgar says:

    Putin is Russian Intelligence; all of his oligarchs, including but not limited to, Semion Mogilevich, Oleg Deripaska, Roman Abramovich and Dmytro Firtash, report directly to him; consequently, all are tied into and part of the Russian Intelligence apparatus owned, controlled and operated by Putin.

    Semion Mogilevich was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for six years until the FBI dropped him from the list in December 2015. The late William Sessions, the father of House Representative Pete Sessions, was his USA attorney until his death in 2020. Did McGonigal work with Williams Sessions to help Mogilevich in the USA?

    Dmytro Firtash has been represented in the USA by Lanny Davis, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing. Add Rudy Guiliani to this list as well.

    Russia is an organized crime syndicate that masquerades as a nation state. It is using the current USA system of government and freedoms to try to turn the USA into one of its controlled nation states, just like Putin and Mogilevich did to Hungary by corrupting and controlling Viktor Orban. Trump is the Viktor Orban of the USA.

    • Mike Stone says:

      Heritage Foundation to hold meeting in DC to bring together various bad actors including Republican members of Congress and Orban to strategize on ending US support for Ukraine.

      It is almost as if the Republican Party was owned by Putin.

      • Sussex Trafalgar says:

        Putin has definitely infiltrated the Trump Republican Party.

        The Liz Cheney Republican Party appears to support the the US Constitution, not Trump/Putin.

        Will the Liz Cheney Republican Party defeat the Trump/Putin Republican Party in 2024?

        Do Republican voters in the USA know the difference between the two and do they even care?

        • Mike Stone says:

          Liz Cheney is a good American in my opinion even though I strongly disagree with most of her policy positions.

          And no, she does not have a snowball’s chance in Hell that she will be elected since the majority of the Republican party voters appear to want a dictatorship run by their orange G-d.

          • Datnotdat says:

            In 2019 Chaney said that “the Democrat Party” is pro post-birth abortion, and pro killing babies after they have been born. She claims Democrats want to “turn our maternity wards into killing fields.” While she may be right in some of her positions, please think long and hard before you call her an ally.


            P.S. What are the Republicans signaling to each other when they say “Democrat” in stead of “Democratic” Party?

  4. Savage Librarian says:

    A reminder of some things related to Albania that are interesting but may or may not be of interest:

    1. Trump nominated a woman from Guam as Ambassador to Albania. She (Yuri Kim) was confirmed by the Senate on 12/19/19. Speaking of Guam, I wonder how Walt Nauta is doing these days.

    2. George Santos has/had a friend, Evi Kokalari [-Angelakis], who is/was a right wing political activist in Albania and also a realtor in NY.

    3. In July 2023, Bill Clinton visited Kosovo where he is very popular. Many children there have been named after Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      SL, I too wonder about Walt Nauta. And perhaps even more, deOlivieras, who seems even more criminally exposed. They must feel very invested in Cannon’s seeming strategy of kicking the can down the road.

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