- When Mueller ran FBI, agency asked Oleg Deripaska to rescue hostage in Iran
- Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson was believed captured by Iran in 2007
- Russian oligarch ultimately spent $25million on private search and rescue team
- Now-fired deputy director Andrew McCabe played key role in courting Russian
- Bureau may have needed Deripaska to evade bans on spending money in Iran
- Rescue mission fell through after Clinton-led State Department backed out
- Now Mueller has left Deripaska out of indictments despite ties to Paul Manafort
- An escort jailed in Thailand claims Deripaska was Manafort's pipeline to Putin
- Oligarch says FBI quizzed him on 'dirty dossier' claims but he thought it was joke
- Mueller's past FBI ties to Deripaska are raising questions of conflict of interest
Robert Mueller's past ties to a Russian oligarch who is now a witness in the special counsel's probe are raising questions of a possible conflict of interest.
On Monday, new details emerged about then-FBI Director Mueller's 2009 deal with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to help rescue ex-agent hostage Robert Levinson from Iran, as recounted in a column by John Solomon for The Hill.
Now Deripaska's ties to Paul Manafort have brought him under the scrutiny of Mueller's investigators, raising the possibility of a conflict of interest and renewing ethical scrutiny on the millions the oligarch spent assisting the FBI in 2009.
The strange saga dates back to 2007, when Levinson, a retired agent for the FBI and DEA, disappeared on Iran's Kish Island while he was supposedly investigating cigarette smuggling - but was reportedly on a secret CIA mission.