FBI Official Sentenced to Prison for Working With Putin 'Henchmen' Also Helped Launch Trump-Russia Probe

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Charles McGonigal, the disgraced former FBI official who also helped to launch the Trump collusion probe, is headed to prison.

The man who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to concealing foreign contacts and bribes will be spending over four years in a federal prison. McGonigal had been working with a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who is also known as "Putin's henchman."


During the sentencing, McGonigal admitted that his actions have caused him "extreme mental, emotional, and physical pain," but still asked for a second chance from the judge in the case.

Judge Jennifer Rearden argued that McGonigal “repeatedly flouted and manipulated the sanctions regimes vital” to American security interests. “The undeniable seriousness of this and the need to respect the law,” Rearden continued, “compels a meaningful custodial sentence.”

The FBI official admitted during the hearing that he has a “deep sense of remorse and sorrow for my actions.”

“I, more than anyone, know that I have committed a felony and as a former FBI special agent it causes me extreme mental, emotional and physical pain – not to mention the shame I feel in embarrassing myself and the FBI, the organization I love and respect,” McGonigal told Rearden. “I’m humbly asking for a second chance.”

Deripaska is one of dozens of oligarchs in Putin's orbit who ended up being sanctioned in 2018 for meddling in U.S. elections, and he was charged in the U.S. last year with violating those sanctions. McGonigal's role in Deripaska's scheme was to investigate one of the oligarch's rivals in exchange for payment, which had been concealed from the FBI. According to prosecutors, the FBI official attempted to hide Deripaska's involvement by not naming him directly in any documentation. He also used shell companies and forged signatures to send and receive payments.


McGonigal's lawyers argued, according to Reuters, that he shouldn't receive prison time because he's accepted responsibility and lost his job. They also argued that McGonigal believed what he was doing was "consistent" with U.S. foreign policy by aiding in potentially sanctioning Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

McGonigal was one of the first FBI officials to have received word about a Trump campaign member knowing Russia had obtained a chunk of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails. That information turned into the agency's probe into whether or not the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia.

As the former chief of counterintelligence in the bureau’s New York field office, McGonigal was among the first FBI officials to be notified that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was aware that Russia had obtained a trove of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

McGonigal eventually relayed this to the FBI in July 2016, with his note playing a crucial role in instigating a case into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The resulting investigation, conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove then-President Trump’s guilt. The probe lasted 22 months and reportedly cost over $30 million.


McGonigal is expected to be headed to prison in February.


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