Senator Whitehouse suspects ex-FBI agent 'may have knowledge of' efforts to 'damage' Clinton in 2016
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speaks at a rally to overturn the Citizens United ruling (Senate Democrats/Flickr)

In January, former FBI agent Charles McGonigal was arrested on federal charges that included money laundering and violating U.S. sanctions against Russia. The charges pertained to his connection to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Federal prosecutors, according to ABC News, had accused McGonigal of "receiving payments through shell companies and forging signatures in order to keep it a secret that Deripaska was paying" him. In court, McGonigal pleaded "not guilty" to all charges.

Now, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat who chairs a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, is reaching out to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the issues that McGonigal’s case raises about Russia and the United States' 2016 presidential election. McGonigal reportedly worked on the FBI’s Trump/Russia probe that year.

In a letter to Garland, Whitehouse wrote, "McGonigal’s arrest raises the potential for a plea and the possibility of a debrief. In the event that debrief occurs, I would like your assurance that someone independent of the FBI will be involved."

In his letter to Garland, Whitehouse CC’d Michael E. Horowitz, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Whitehouse went on to express concerns that because of his work in the FBI’s New York Field Office in 2016, McGonigal "may have knowledge of or have participated in political activities to damage then-candidate Hillary Clinton and help then-candidate Donald Trump."

"The situation is even more troubling given that McGonigal was arrested for, among other things, allegedly working with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whom McGonigal was assigned to investigate while working for the FBI," Whitehouse told Garland. "Deripaska, a known associate of Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was sanctioned for interfering with the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump."

In the letter, the Rhode Island Democrat told Garland it was "vital" that "any plea" in McGonigal’s case "be accompanied by a full debrief."

Whitehouse, a former federal prosecutor, served as Rhode Island’s state attorney general before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and unseating moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee.