The ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ hoax continues to pay ironic dividends more than a half-decade later.
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A former FBI official involved in the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during his campaign is expected to plead guilty to charges of colluding with Russia himself, as indicated by a federal judge on Monday, the Washington Times reported.
In an order, Jennifer Reardon, a federal judge in Manhattan, stated that lawyers representing Charles McGonigal, the disgraced official, intend to modify their plea in the case.
Initially, McGonigal had entered a plea of not guilty to four corruption charges, which encompassed allegations of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions, money laundering, conspiring to commit money laundering, and conspiring to violate federal laws against engaging in business with sanctioned individuals.
Each of the four counts has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the Times reported.
“The court has been informed that defendant Charles McGonigal may wish to enter a change of plea,” Judge Reardon wrote in a brief order. She also scheduled a hearing for Aug. 15.
McGonigal, formerly a top FBI counterintelligence agent stationed in New York, is the fourth high-ranking official from the Trump-Russia collusion investigation within the FBI to confront criminal charges or become subject to investigation.
Federal prosecutors in New York and Washington have issued indictments against McGonigal, alleging that he unlawfully received payments for his involvement with Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch.
McGonigal is facing numerous criminal charges stemming from allegations that he violated U.S. sanctions by accepting payments from Deripaska in exchange for conducting an investigation on a competing Russian oligarch.
The Times added:
As prosecutors tell it, then-FBI official Mr. McGonigal and Sergey Shestakov, a court interpreter based in New York, agreed in 2021 to investigate one of Mr. Deripaska’s rivals in exchange for payments. Both defendants are accused of receiving payments through shell companies and forging signatures to keep Mr. Deripaska’s payments secret.
Mr. McGonigal made at least $25,000 as an investigator for the law firm before directly working for Mr. Deripaska. He received an initial payment of $51,000 and then payments of $41,790 each month for three months from August 2021 to November 2021, the indictment said.
According to prosecutors, McGonigal hid his connections to the Russian oligarch by informing friends that he was employed by a “rich Russian guy.”
He emphasized that his activities were lawful.
During discussions concerning Deripaska, he made efforts to withhold his employer’s identity by using terms like “the big guy” and “you know whom,” the Times added.
Republicans had discovered during Trump’s four-year term that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was behind the collusion theory, even going so far as to fund a phony ‘dossier’ compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.