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Retired FBI counterintel agent reportedly involved in Trump-Russia probe arrested for ties to Russian oligarch

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/retired-fbi-counterintel-agent-reportedly-involved-trump-russia-probe-arrested-ties-russian-oligarch

A former senior FBI counterintelligence official who reportedly was involved in the Trump-Russia probe was arrested and charged over his own alleged ties to a sanctioned Russian oligarch amid the war in Ukraine.

Charles McGonigal, the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York who retired in 2018, is charged with violating U.S. sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch. He was charged alongside Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later became a U.S. citizen and a Russian interpreter for courts and government offices, through a five-count indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court Monday.

McGonigal and Shestakov both were arrested Saturday. The indictment is a rare move by federal prosecutors to bring charges against a former senior FBI official before a federal grand jury.

Though not referenced in or related to the indictment, McGonigal, while serving as chief of the cybercrimes section at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., was one of the first bureau officials to learn of allegations that George Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser for former President Donald Trump, boasted that he knew Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, launching the investigation into alleged Russian election interference known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane, Business Insider previously reported. Fox News is told that as a senior counterintelligence official at the time, he likely was briefed on Crossfire Hurricane at the time the investigation was launched.

GEORGE SANTOS HAS BUSINESS TIES TO RUSSIAN OLIGRACH’S COUSIN, STORMY DANIELS HUSH-MONEY DEAL FIXER: REPORT

Russian billionaire and businessman Oleg Deripaska

Russian billionaire and businessman Oleg Deripaska
(Contributor / Getty Images / File)

McGonigal, 54, of New York City, and Shestakov, 69, of Morris, Connecticut, “both previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “This Office will continue to prosecute those who violate U.S. sanctions enacted in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets.”

Both men are charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), one count of violating the IEEPA, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, and one count of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Shestakov is also charged with one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, prosecutors said.

Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, leaves Manhattan Federal Court on January 23, 2023 in New York City. 

Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, leaves Manhattan Federal Court on January 23, 2023 in New York City. 
(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said. “Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence.” 

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump
(Stringer / AFP via Getty Images / File)

“After sanctions are imposed, they must be enforced equally against all U.S. citizens in order to be successful,” Driscoll added. “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal. Supporting a designated threat to the United States and our allies is a crime the FBI will continue to pursue aggressively.”

It was then-President Barack Obama who in 2014 issued Executive Order 13660, which declared a national emergency with respect to the situation in Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea.

On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated Deripaska as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”), sanctioning him for acting on behalf of a senior official of the Russian Federation’s government and for operating in the Russian energy sector.

"The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors," FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said.

“The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images / File)

In 2021, the two defendants agreed to and did investigate a rival Russian oligarch of Deripaska in return for concealed payments from Deripaska, in violation of sanctions the United States imposed in 2018, the indictment says. McGonigal and Shestakov allegedly knew their actions violated U.S. sanctions because, among other reasons, while serving as special agent in charge, McGonigal received then-classified information that Deripaska would be added to a list of oligarchs considered for sanctions. 

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As part of their negotiations with Deripaska’s agent, McGonigal, Shestakov and the agent attempted to conceal Deripaska’s involvement by, among other means, not directly naming Deripaska in electronic communications, using shell companies as counterparties in the contract that outlined the services to be performed, using a forged signature on that contract, and using the same shell companies to send and receive payments from Deripaska, according to the indictment.

In 2019, McGonigal and Shestakov also allegedly worked on behalf of Deripaska in an unsuccessful effort to have the sanctions against Deripaska lifted. In November 2021, when FBI agents questioned Shestakov about the nature of his and McGonigal’s relationship with Deripaska’s agent, the interpreter made false statements in a recorded interview, federal prosecutors said. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News Digital in a statement: “The way we maintain the trust and confidence of the American people is through our work—showing, when all the facts come out, that we stuck to the process and we treated everyone equally, even when it is one of our own. The FBI will go to great lengths to investigate and hold accountable anyone who violates the law, including when the individual is an FBI employee. We hold ourselves to the highest standard, and our focus will remain on our mission and on doing the right thing, in the right way, every time.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This report has been updated to clarify McGonigal’s reported connection to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/retired-fbi-counterintel-agent-reportedly-involved-trump-russia-probe-arrested-ties-russian-oligarch

Politics

Trump joins calls for Biden admin to ‘shoot down’ suspected Chinese spy balloon

Former President Trump has weighed in on the suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering above the northern United States, calling on President Biden and his administration to “shoot” it down.

“SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON,” Trump wrote in a Friday morning post to Truth Social.

Trump, who announced last November that he would make a third run for the White House in 2024, is not the only one calling for the Biden administration to take immediate action amid tension with China.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is expected to announce her 2024 presidential bid later this month, also called for aggressive action from the Biden administration.

CHINA CONFIRMS BALLOON IS THEIRS, AS SPOKESPERSON CLAIMS IT IS CIVILIAN RESEARCH AIRSHIP

Former President Trump has weighed in on the suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering above the northern United States, calling on President Biden and his administration to "shoot" it down.

Former President Trump has weighed in on the suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering above the northern United States, calling on President Biden and his administration to “shoot” it down.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

“Shoot down the balloon. Cancel Blinken’s trip. Hold China accountable,” Haley wrote in a tweet. “Biden is letting China walk all over us. It’s time to make America strong again.”

The Pentagon addressed the suspected surveillance balloon that was detected over Billings, Montana and said Thursday that while they considered taking down the possible threat, they ultimately decided against any action due to “the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field,” according to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“From the spy balloon to the Chinese Communist Party spying on Americans through TikTok to CCP-linked companies buying American farmland, I’m deeply troubled by the constant stream of alarming developments for our national security,” Gov. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., wrote in a statement addressing the high priority concern.

The suspicious balloon, reportedly the size of three school buses, is currently being tracked by the U.S. government, but Montana lawmakers do not believe the Biden administration is doing enough to combat the potential threat.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., a fifth generation Montanan, demanded there be a “full security briefing from the administration on this situation.”

‘SHOOT IT DOWN’: MONTANA GOP DEMAND BIDEN TAKE OUT SUSPECTED CHINESE SPY BALLOON HOVERING OVER US FOR DAYS

“Shoot. It. Down. The Chinese spy balloon is clear provocation. In Montana we do not bow. We shoot it down. Take the shot,” Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., a former Navy SEAL, tweeted urgently on Thursday.

A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, Feb. 1, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media.

A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, Feb. 1, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media.
(Chase Doak/via Reuters)

“The fact that this balloon was occupying Montana airspace creates significant concern that Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB) and the United States’ intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fields are the targets of this intelligence gathering mission,” Daines wrote in a letter to Austin amid growing concerns over the balloon.

The People’s Republic of China confirmed Friday that the balloon craft floating over Montana is Chinese.

“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed Friday. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

The spokesperson said China regrets the incident.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping
(Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS)

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The statement continued, “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.”

Announcing an investigation by China’s government to look into the reports of the balloon, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Friday during a daily briefing that “China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international laws, and China has no intention to violate the territory and airspace of any sovereign countries.”

She also urged U.S. officials and Chinese authorities to proceed “calmly and carefully” amid the investigation.

Fox News’ Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and Aubrie Spady contributed to this article.

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House GOP announces aggressive, first-of-its-kind effort to combat ESG movement

EXCLUSIVE: Republican leaders on the House Financial Services Committee are creating a first-of-its-kind task force to coordinate their response to various proposals related to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement.

Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said Friday that the ESG working group would lead the Republican effort to combat the threat ESG policies pose to U.S. capital markets. He added that Financial Services Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., would lead the initiative and appointed another eight GOP committee members to serve on the working group.

“Progressives are trying to do with American businesses what they already did to our public education system—using our institutions to force their far-left ideology on the American people,” McHenry said in a statement shared with Fox News Digital. “Their latest tool in these efforts is environmental, social, and governance proposals. This is why I am creating a Republican ESG working group led by Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Chair Bill Huizenga.”

“This group will develop a comprehensive approach to ESG that protects the financial interests of everyday investors and ensures our capital markets remain the envy of the world,” he continued. “Financial Services Committee Republicans as a whole will continue our work to expand capital formation, hold Biden’s rogue regulators accountable, and support American job creators.”

REPUBLICAN STATES ARE PLANNING AN ALL-OUT ASSAULT ON WOKE BANKS: ‘WE WON’T DO BUSINESS WITH YOU’

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., speaks alongside fellow Republicans during a news conference on May 12, 2022.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., speaks alongside fellow Republicans during a news conference on May 12, 2022.
(Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

According to McHenry, the working group will be focused on reining in regulatory overreach from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), reinforce the materiality standard — which requires corporations to disclose key information to investors — “as a pillar” of the financial disclosure regime and hold those who misuse the proxy process that gives shareholders a saying in company decisions accountable.

The task force will ultimately organize Republican efforts to fight back against the ESG movement, educate congressmen on the issues and develop policy proposals.

LOUISIANA DIVESTS FROM BLACKROCK OVER ESG POLICIES: ‘WOULD DESTROY LOUISIANA’S ECONOMY’

“Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia vs EPA that government bureaucracies cannot arbitrarily expand their own regulatory reach,” Huizenga said in a statement. “The SEC’s climate disclosure rule is a prime example of this overreach that would have a wide-ranging impact on hard-working Americans across all walks of life.” 

“I look forward to leading our committee’s ESG working group, which will focus on promoting strong, vibrant capital markets, while defending the interests of all retail investors,” the Michigan lawmaker added.

In addition to Huizenga, fellow committee members Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., Bryan Steil, R-Wis., Andrew Garbarino, R-N.Y., Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Monica De La Cruz, R-Texas, Erin Houchin, R-Ind., and Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., will serve on the working group.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler has led the charge on a climate disclosure rule that Republicans have characterized as dangerous.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler has led the charge on a climate disclosure rule that Republicans have characterized as dangerous.
(Reuters/Jose Luis Magana)

The ESG movement, which has picked up steam over the last few years, broadly seeks to promote a green energy transition and left-wing social priorities through the financial sector and major corporations. 

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It has largely been spearheaded by massive trillion-dollar asset managers and financial institutions like BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard, which have used their large stakes in large companies to push the adoption of ESG standards. The firms often utilize their outsized influence during the proxy voting process.

The movement has also been supported by Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration which has moved ahead with various ESG actions over the last 12 months. 

For example, in March 2022, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, who President Joe Biden appointed a year earlier, unveiled rules requiring publicly-listed companies to disclose climate-related information, an action that Republicans and business industry leaders warned may be unconstitutional

And late last month, a Labor Department rule went into effect allowing retirement plan managers to factor ESG standards into investment decisions.

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House Homeland Security chair rips ‘weak’ Biden for hiding Chinese spy balloon, emboldening adversaries

EXCLUSIVE: House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green on Friday criticized the Biden administration for failing to keep Congress informed about the discovery of a Chinese spy balloon floating above the U.S., and said his committee should have been notified by the administration instead of the media.

“The Committee on Homeland Security of the U.S. Congress — a co-equal branch of government — should not be finding out about a CCP spy balloon over Montana in the news,” Green told Fox News Digital exclusively.

Green said the Biden’s weakness toward China and other countries is only emboldening U.S. adversaries, and said the committee “cannot stand by” the Chinese Communist Party attempts to overtake the U.S.

GOP PRESSURES BLINKEN TO STAND UP TO CHINA’S XI AFTER SPY BALLOON DISCOVERED: ‘YOU MUST RAISE THIS’

Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Mark Green, R-Tenn.

Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Mark Green, R-Tenn.

“The Biden administration owes us, and the American people, answers — now! Our adversaries around the world see a weak president in Joe Biden and are testing their boundaries. Time and time again, the President has failed in countering, curbing, and competing with Beijing,” Green told Fox News Digital.

“We cannot stand by as the CCP continues to exercise threats of intimidation in an unbridled attempt to overtake the U.S.,” Green continued, promising action by the committee.

US GOVERNMENT MONITORING SUSPECTED CHINESE SPY BALLOON OVER NORTHERN STATES

The chairman blamed the "weak" Biden administration for allowing U.S. adversaries to take such striking measures against America.

The chairman blamed the “weak” Biden administration for allowing U.S. adversaries to take such striking measures against America.
(The Associated Press)

The People’s Republic of China confirmed Friday that the balloon floating over the northern United States is Chinese.

China claimed that the airship is a civilian research craft that was blown far off course by prevailing winds, and that it regrets the incident.

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“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed Friday. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

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