Robert Mueller may have a conflict of interest in the Russia election meddling investigation. The Hill is reporting that in 2009 when he was running the FBI, the bureau wanted, “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.” That’s the same Deripaska who slapped with sanctions by the U.S. last month. Deripaska’s possible ties to Paul Manafort were part of the Mueller investigation despite the fact that they occurred over a decade before he worked on the Trump campaign.
The Levinson mission is confirmed by more than a dozen participants inside and outside the FBI, including Deripaska, his lawyer, the Levinson family and a retired agent who supervised the case. Mueller was kept apprised of the operation, officials told me.
Some aspects of Deripaska’s help were chronicled in a 2016 book by reporter Barry Meier, but sources provide extensive new information about his role.
They said FBI agents courted Deripaska in 2009 in a series of secret hotel meetings in Paris; Vienna; Budapest, Hungary, and Washington. Agents persuaded the aluminum industry magnate to underwrite the mission. The Russian billionaire insisted the operation neither involve nor harm his homeland.
“We knew he was paying for his team helping us, and that probably ran into the millions,” a U.S. official involved in the operation confirmed.
One agent who helped court Deripaska was Andrew McCabe whose lying about element’s of the Russia probe led to his dismissal.
Deripaska eventually spent $25 million mobilizing a rescue team who executed their mission with the help of Iranian contacts and under the supervision of the FBI. The team found pictures and videos proving that Levinson was still alive.
Then in fall 2010, the operation secured an offer to free Levinson. The deal was scuttled, however, when the State Department become uncomfortable with Iran’s terms, according to Deripaska’s lawyer and the Levinson family.
FBI officials confirmed State hampered their efforts.
“We tried to turn over every stone we could to rescue Bob, but every time we started to get close, the State Department seemed to always get in the way,” said Robyn Gritz, the retired agent who supervised the Levinson case in 2009, when Deripaska first cooperated, but who left for another position in 2010 before the Iranian offer arrived. “I kept Director Mueller and Deputy Director [John] Pistole informed of the various efforts and operations, and they offered to intervene with State, if necessary.”
Gee state kept screwing it up? Perhaps the Clinton Foundation wasn’t getting enough cash from the deal.
The FBI killed the operation in 2011 because they were afraid that with all the bickering between departments Deripaska’s mission would fail. But thanks to Hillary backing out of making a statement already drafted and agreed to, at the last-minute, and the Obama/Kerry negligence during the JCPOA negotiations Robert Levinson is still being held by Iran.
Why does any of this matter? On one hand, the FBI Director Mueller was consulted and updated at every step of the Deripaska operation which was being overseen by senior FBI agents.
Even though he was banned from entering the country because of his organized crime ties, “The FBI rewarded Deripaska for his help. In fall 2009, according to U.S. entry records, Deripaska visited Washington on a rare law enforcement parole visa. And since 2011, he has been granted entry at least eight times on a diplomatic passport, even though he doesn’t work for the Russian Foreign Ministry.”
“Former FBI officials confirm they arranged the access.”