New revelations that FBI agents pressed a Russian oligarch with ties to independent counsel Robert Mueller to help build an election collusion narrative only reinforce the likelihood of a conspiracy to frame President Donald Trump, according to a former federal prosecutor.
Joseph diGenova, who served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia under Ronald Reagan, reacted to a report in The Hill that FBI agents met with Oleg Deripaska in September 2016. They were in search of information that Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort was conspiring with the Russian government to throw the presidential election to the Republican nominee.
Despite an ongoing legal dispute with Manafort, Deripaska reportedly laughed at the notion.
“What’s going on now is the unraveling of a very substantial plot that had two goals — to exonerate Hillary Clinton illegally and, if she lost the presidency, to frame Donald Trump and his associates of crimes they did not commit,” he said Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
“Robert Mueller has produced not a scintilla of evidence that anybody in the Trump campaign engaged in any illegal activity regarding illegal contact with Russian officials.”
After a year on the case, it is fair to ask what Mueller is investigating, diGenova said.
“The answer seems to be — anything but that,” he said.
DiGenova (pictured above) said the FBI agents who talked to Deripaska most likely “crossed a number of lines.”
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According to The Hill’s report, Mueller was FBI director when the agency persuaded Deripaska to put up millions of dollars of his own money to try to free a CIA agent held captive in Iran.
That history creates a definite conflict of interest for Mueller, diGenova said. He noted that the indictment charging Manafort with a number of financial crimes involves activities involving the aluminum industry magnate.
“And yet, Bob Mueller kept Deripaska’s name out of the indictment completely,” he said. “There was no reason to do that. There was no reason to keep his name out, other than to cover up the fact that Mueller had been dealing with him for years.”
DiGenova spread blame around but directed the majority of it at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who appointed Mueller. DiGenova accused Rosenstein of acting not based on a legal judgment but out of a pique of anger because the president undercut the official justification for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Rosenstein had prepared a memo outlining Comey’s violations of Department of Justice (DOJ) policy during his handling of the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official government business. But then Trump told “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt that the real reason was the Russia investigation.
“This is without a doubt the greatest political scandal in American history.”
“At that point, that is when Rod Rosenstein, I am told by people in the department, got mad, was embarrassed by what the president had said — and, therefore, made him look like a fool — and it was that day he decided to appoint Mueller, whom he had interviewed the day before, to be the next FBI director [for a second tour] to replace James Comey,” he said.
DiGenova called Rosenstein “an incompetent liar.” He said his sources indicate that neither Rosenstein nor Attorney General Jeff Sessions are secure in their jobs.
“Jeff Sessions — a man who I love dearly and have known for years — is clueless,” he said.
Former CIA Director John Brennan is the worst director that agency ever has had, diGenova said. Not only has he “denigrated” the agency, diGenova added, but it also has become clear that he lied about the genesis of the counterintelligence investigation that morphed into the Mueller probe.
Part of the justification was a dossier prepared by a retired British spy working for an opposition research firm hired by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
DOJ officials used that dossier — filled with salacious allegations against Trump — to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance on his associates. But the Justice Department evidently did not specify the source of the material when it asked a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court for the warrant.
“This is without a doubt the greatest political scandal in American history,” diGenova said.