That Time Mueller Courted The Russian Oligarch He’s Going After
Robert Mueller may have ties with one of the Iranian-tied Russian oligarchs he’s currently investigating as the special counsel to the Department of Justice’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller was director of the FBI in 2009 when it attempted and eventually failed to rescue FBI agent Robert Levinson, who was captured in 2007 while working for the CIA.
Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and aluminum magnate, put up $25 million to pay for the Levinson mission, his lawyer said, according to reporter John Solomon’s Monday article in The Hill.
FBI agents set up meetings with Deripaska in hotels around the world in 2009 in order to get him to bankroll the mission, The Hill reported.
The mission failed as U.S. infighting grew, in part, in 2010 under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when the State Department scrapped a deal the FBI had secured with Iran to free Levinson. Every time the FBI tried to rescue Levinson, “the State Department seemed to always get in the way,” retired FBI agent Robyn Gritz said, as she oversaw the 2009 Levinson case.
By 2011, the FBI terminated its search efforts — Levinson is still missing. Deripaska was ultimately rewarded for his role in the failed rescue efforts. His rewards included visas and diplomatic passports to the U.S. (RELATED: The ‘Russian Collusion’ Trial Is On, And Mueller May Be The First Casualty)
“It’s possible the bureau’s arrangement with Mr. Deripaska violated the Anti-Deficiency Act, which prohibits the government from accepting voluntary services,” said Melanie Sloan, former executive director of a nonprofit government ethics watchdog group — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — and a former Justice Department lawyer under then-President Bill Clinton.
But Mueller’s sketchy professional ties don’t begin or end with Deripaska.
Uzo Asonye, an assistant U.S. prosecutor, recently joined Mueller’s special counsel team. Asonye donated to Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. He is among a team of Democrats, 11 of whom have donated to Democrats, working with Mueller.
There isn’t a single registered Republican on Mueller’s nearly 20-man team.
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