The Hill just ran a story, about Russia oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and how it may be problematic for Robert Mueller’s his investigation into the ties between Russia and popular vote loser Donald Trump.
The story says, “In 2009, when Mueller ran the FBI, the bureau asked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to spend millions of his own dollars funding an FBI-supervised operation to rescue a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, captured in Iran while working for the CIA in 2007.”
“Yes, that’s the same Deripaska who has surfaced in Mueller’s current investigation and who was recently sanctioned by the Trump administration.”
Deripaska is the same Russian oligarch that Paul Manafort reportedly offered personal briefings about the 2016 election. “If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in a July 7, 2016, email obtained by The Washington Post.
In reality, though, The Hill has it wrong. They’re framing it as a problem for Mueller and Andrew McCabe. There’s a bigger, more realistic story here about how the FBI might be able to turn Deripaska into a cooperating witness.
Seth Abramson puts it perfectly, saying: “Ignore the *ridiculous* argument made here about Mueller having a conflict, and consider that the *real* news in this article is that Mueller and McCabe may have a backchannel to Deripaska that would aid the FBI in trying to convince him to cooperate in the Russia investigation.”
The portion Abramson is referring to in The Hill piece says, “One agent who helped court Deripaska was Andrew McCabe, the recently fired FBI deputy director who played a seminal role starting the Trump-Russia case, multiple sources confirmed.”
Clearly, Mueller has connections to Deripaska that could be instrumental in securing another cooperating witness in the Trump-Russia probe. Witnesses are much more likely to cooperate with people they know than with complete strangers, which Mueller knows, so buckle up with this one.