A senior FBI official in the bureau’s Washington field office has abruptly resigned after coming under congressional scrutiny for suspected political bias in handling the investigation of Hunter Biden’s laptop computer.
It is not clear whether Mr. Thibault left on his own accord or was forced out of the bureau. The 25-year FBI veteran was on leave for at least a month over revelations about political statements he made while leading the public corruption unit.
Republican lawmakers have been scrutinizing Mr. Thibault for making anti-Trump statements in social media posts in 2020. At the time, he was helping lead the FBI’s probe of Hunter Biden, whose father, President Biden, was running for the White House.
In February and September of 2020, Mr. Thibault liked separate Washington Post opinion pieces criticizing Attorney General William P. Barr for not more aggressively prosecuting former President Trump’s political allies and close associates.
Mr. Thibault also retweeted a post by the Lincoln Project, a Republican group that called Mr. Trump “a psychologically broken, embittered and deeply unhappy man.”
One of the former officials, a whistleblower talking to the House Judiciary Committee, was placed on indefinite suspension last year by the bureau because he attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. The rally preceded a pro-Trump mob storming of the U.S. Capitol. The former official said he never entered the Capitol.
“Look, I think some of the executives that were involved in my indefinite suspension are the same cast of characters involved in pulling security clearances for conservative employees in retaliation for their disfavored political speech,” he said.
Mr. Trump, in a statement about Mr. Thibault, said on Monday night, “The fired agent who was just escorted out of the FBI headquarters is the person who got the FBI to do a Raid on a home, Mar-a-Lago, that has ‘stirred’ the World and created anger and hostility toward the FBI and DOJ the likes of which has perhaps never been seen in our Country before.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sought records from the Department of Justice in late May regarding the work history of Mr. Thibault after reports of politically charged bias on social media platforms.
Mr. Grassley told The Times on Monday that Mr. Thibault’s departure from the FBI would not resolve questions of how political bias was affecting federal investigations.
“Mr. Thibault’s blatant partisanship undermined the work and reputation of the FBI. This type of bias in high-profile investigations casts a shadow over all of the bureau’s work that he was involved in, which ranged from opening an investigation into Trump based on liberal news articles to shutting down investigative activity into Hunter Biden that was based on verified information,” Mr. Grassley said in a statement to The Times.
“Political bias should have no place at the FBI, and the effort to revive the FBI’s credibility can’t stop with his exit. We need accountability, which is why Congress must continue investigating and the inspector general must fully investigate as I’ve requested,” he said.
In May, Mr. Grassley wrote to the inspector general to request an investigation of Mr. Thibault’s potential violations of rules and regulations designed to prevent political bias from interfering in FBI investigations.
In testimony to the Senate, Mr. Wray downplayed Mr. Thibault’s connection to the FBI probe of Hunter Biden’s laptop computer, which revealed shady business dealings and potential influence peddling that surfaced during the 2020 presidential campaign.
Still, Mr. Wray acknowledged during the committee hearing that Mr. Thibault’s social media activity was concerning.
“I should say that when I read the letter that describes the kinds of things that you’re talking about, I found it deeply troubling,” he said, stressing that such actions were “not representative of the FBI.”
Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, said the episode was further eroding the public’s confidence in the FBI and must be addressed.
“You’re killing yourselves with this stuff,” Mr. Kennedy said. “And this investigation needs to be completed on this gentleman, and the results need to be reported to the American people.”
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