writing at The Hill, offers a comprehensive perspective on the FBI's long relationship with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, starting with Robert Mueller. The digest version is that Mueller's FBI once solicited Deripaska to pony up $25 million to help arrange the rescue of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, captured in Iran in 2007 while working for the CIA.
What Deripaska was offered by Mueller to help is left unmentioned. Deripaska came through, but Levinson was left stranded on Iranian tarmac by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for reasons yet unknown.
The story of the Levinson operation was confirmed by more than a dozen individuals both inside and outside the FBI. Deripaska, his lawyer, the Levinson family, and a retired FBI agent all confirmed the account. And Robert Mueller was, according to the report, kept fully apprised of the high-profile and sensitive operation.
But the real news is buried a dozens paragraphs down:
Deripaska was reportedly informed by the trio of agents that he should keep an open mind with respect to Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Two months before Trump was elected president, Deripaska was in New York as part of Russia’s United Nations delegation when three FBI agents awakened him in his home; at least one agent had worked with Deripaska on the aborted effort to rescue Levinson. During an hour-long visit, the agents posited a theory that Trump’s campaign was secretly colluding with Russia to hijack the U.S. election.
“Deripaska laughed but realized, despite the joviality, that they were serious,” the lawyer said. “So he told them in his informed opinion the idea they were proposing was false. ‘You are trying to create something out of nothing,’ he told them.” The agents left though the FBI sought more information in 2017 from the Russian, sources tell me. Waldman declined to say if Deripaska has been in contact with the FBI since Sept, 2016.
So why care about some banished Russian oligarch’s account now?Remember when they said there was no "deep state"?
First, as the FBI prepared to get authority to surveil figures on Trump’s campaign team, did it disclose to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that one of its past Russian sources waived them off the notion of Trump-Russia collusion?
Second, the U.S. government in April imposed sanctions on Deripaska, one of several prominent Russians targeted to punish Vladimir Putin — using the same sort of allegations that State used from 2006 to 2009. Yet, between those two episodes, Deripaska seemed good enough for the FBI to ask him to fund that multimillion-dollar rescue mission. And to seek his help on a sensitive political investigation. And to allow him into the country eight times.
I was alerted to Deripaska’s past FBI relationship by U.S. officials who wondered whether the Russian’s conspicuous absence from Mueller’s indictments might be related to his FBI work.
They aren’t the only ones.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told me he believes Mueller has a conflict of interest because his FBI previously accepted financial help from a Russian that is, at the very least, a witness in the current probe.
“The real question becomes whether it was proper to leave [Deripaska] out of the Manafort indictment, and whether that omission was to avoid the kind of transparency that is really required by the law,” Dershowitz said...
Those were good times... good times.
Hat tip: BadBlue Uncensored News.