The leaders of the Department of Justice and FBI need to investigate whether a top bureau official in the nation’s capital violated DOJ guidelines through partisan posts on social media, a top Republican senator demands.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that FBI assistant special agent in charge and leader at the Washington field office handling public corruption matters and other criminal investigations, Timothy Thibault “likely violated several federal regulations and Department guidelines designed to prevent political bias from infecting FBI matters, including the Attorney General Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations and FBI social media policies.”
Letters were sent by Grassley to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray that set a preliminary deadline of June 14 for them to share documents related to Thibault, which includes investigations he has supervised since 2015. Pointing to a number of DOJ rules and regulations, including FBI guidelines on social media use, Grassley also called on DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate.
Allegedly, the LinkedIn account of Thibaultstates that he is currently an assistant special agent in charge at the Washington field office in the nation’s capital, a position it says he has held since August 2020. The account says he has been in the FBI for more than 25 years, was an assistant section chief for international terrorism operations from December 2018 to August 2020 (including being the acting section chief from May 2019 to March 2020), and was a supervisory special agent before that, as reported.
“Based on a review of open-source content, ASAC Thibault has demonstrated a pattern of active public partisanship, such as using his official title for public partisan posts relating to his superiors and matters under the FBI’s purview, that is likely a violation of his ethical obligations as an FBI employee. Accordingly, his actions present a grave risk of political infection and bias in his official decision-making process, creating serious questions with respect to oversight of investigative matters under his purview,” said Grassley.
“ASAC Thibault’s social media postings, comments, and ‘likes’ … demonstrate a pattern of improper commentary related to, for example, ongoing FBI investigations including those under his purview,” Grassley added.
An FBI representative said that “without commenting on any specific personnel matters, all FBI employees are held to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct. Any allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and referred to the Inspection Division.”
Thibault had “liked” a LinkedIn post of a Washington Post opinion piece in February 2020 titled “The Justice Department confirms things are even worse than we feared,” Grassley noted. This column critiqued Barr’s tenure at the Justice Department repeatedly.
Thibault also liked another Washington Post column in September 2020, the senator pointed out, this one titled “William Barr has gone rogue.” This article criticized Barr’s handling of the cases against retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump associate Roger Stone.
Another Washington Post piece was posted on his LinkedIn by Thibault directly in September 2020, Grassley showed, titled “Why the Michael Flynn case still matters.”
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