Tags: Russia | Russia Probe | oligarchs | fbi | special counsel | robert mueller

Michael Hayden: Mueller Right to Question Russian Oligarchs

Michael Hayden: Mueller Right to Question Russian Oligarchs
FBI special counsel Robert Mueller (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 05 April 2018 10:39 PM

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Thursday that the stopping of Russian oligarchs as they entered the U.S. was an effective strategy by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.

"It's actually quite an effective way," Hayden, who also headed the NSA, told Anderson Cooper on CNN in an interview.

He said the move also "takes advantage of provisions in law that allow government at a border to actually have pretty invasive rights into these kinds of electronic devices."

CNN disclosed Wednesday that two oligarchs were stopped on trips to the U.S., with one having his electronic devices searched upon landing at an airport in the New York City area.

It was not clear whether the other oligarch was searched — and a third was being sought for questioning, the cable network reported.

That person has yet to travel to the U.S., according to CNN, and they were of interest to Mueller as his team seeks to determine whether they contributed to Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Federal law bars foreign nationals from contributing to American political candidates and committees.

Hayden defined the oligarchs as "cutouts," through whom Russia could funnel money or channel its election-meddling activities.

"There's another reality here that I think we're seeing: The use of the Russians as cutouts for what it was they did or doing with regard to the United States social media," he said.

Hayden cited several examples, including Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer that met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in 2016.

"A lawyer concerned with orphans," he said. "Not technically an agent of Russian services."

"If you want to inject money into the electoral process, doing it through oligarchs gives the Russians the plausible deniability again," Hayden said.

On Moscow expelling U.S. diplomats in retaliation for similar moves by the U.S. and European Union nations, he told Cooper the Kremlin might have the edge here.

"We can replace folks, but the training line for folks going to Russia is quite long.

"The Russians have a bit of an inherent advantage here," he explained. "They will find it easier to replace their people than we will ours.

"They have more people that speak English than we have people who speak Russian.

"Russia is a more difficult operating environment that requires more training than is required for them to be in the United States."

Hayden, a retired four-star Air Force general, also cautioned against President Trump pulling U.S. troops out of Syria too soon.

"When we plan to go do these things, we have four phases: deploy, shape the battlefield, fight, and stick around to create stability on the ground," he said.

"If you don't do phase four, you get to do one, two, and three again — three, five, seven years in the future.

"Unfortunately, the argument between the president and his military advisers is not about phase four; it's about allowing them to finish phase three.

"Even if they talked the president into staying a bit longer, it will be about the combat destruction of the remnants of ISIS and not the phase four that's desperately needed.

"Otherwise, we turn the future over to the Iranians and the Russians, and the Turks and the Syrians."

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The stopping of Russian oligarchs as they entered the U.S. was an effective strategy by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation, according to former CIA Director Michael Hayden on CNN on Thursday night.
oligarchs, fbi, special counsel, robert mueller
Thursday, 05 April 2018 10:39 PM
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