The FBI and Justice Department attempted unsuccessfully to turn Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska into an informant between 2014 and 2016, The New York Times reports. Sources cited by the Times said the failed mission was part of a larger effort to gauge the feasibility of flipping several of Russia’s richest men, most of whom have close ties to Vladimir Putin. In the case of Deripaska, sources told the Times, the FBI and Justice Department were initially hoping to get information on Russian organized crime, and later, on any possible Russian assistance to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, a frequent target of Trump’s recent Twitter attacks, and former British spy Christopher Steele are said to have been involved in the effort to recruit Russian oligarchs. While Trump and many of his Republican allies have seized on reports of Steele and Ohr being in contact during the campaign as proof of a “deep state” out to undermine his presidency, several sources cited by the Times say the effort to recruit Deripaska was the subject of most of their interactions.
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