The retirement of an FBI agent last Friday was unrelated to politicized comments he made on social media or his alleged connection to the Hunter Biden investigation, according to a statement from his attorney.
Assistant Special Agent Timothy R. Thibault “voluntarily” retired from the FBI on Aug. 26 after 30 years of service, his pro bono attorney said, and that “he was not fired, he was not forced to retire, and he was not asked to retire. .”
“Over the past two months, and particularly over the past 24 hours,” said the unnamed attorney at Morrison & Foerster LLP, “there have been a number of inaccurate media stories and claims on social media about our client.”
In May, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland describing social media posts and likes by Thibault that appeared to be critical of former President Donald Trump, the former Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department Decision Making in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn Cases. Grassley suggested that Thibault may have violated the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of public officials.
When asked during testimony before a congressional committee, Wray called the kinds of posts Grassley highlighted “deeply troubling.”
In July, Grassley sent another letter to Wray and Garland alleging that in October 2020, Thibault closed an investigation into Hunter Biden’s laptop after the New York Post published a story on the computer. Thibault reportedly believed the laptop could be part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
The attorney’s statement said Thibault was not involved in the investigation of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, “either in its planning or execution,” and did not oversee the investigation of Hunter Biden, “which, as confirmed by FBI Director on August 4, 2022, taken over by the Baltimore Field Office.” Thibault worked in the Washington, DC field office. “Specifically,” the statement said, “Mr. Thibault was not involved in any decisions related to any laptop that may be at issue in this investigation and did not seek to close the investigation.”
US officials told NBC News that an assistant special agent in charge would not have the authority to open or close an investigation involving the son of a presidential candidate. Then-Attorney General Barr had also said in a memo that politically sensitive investigations could not proceed without his approval before the 2020 election. The investigation into Hunter Biden is ongoing.
Thibault’s attorney’s statement said the agent was eligible for retirement and told his superiors about a month ago that he intended to leave, “after more than 30 years of dedication to protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States in a non-partisan way”. The attorney noted that Thibault had spent nearly two decades leading corruption investigations by members of both political parties, “such as investigations that resulted in convictions [Democratic] Congressmen William Jefferson and Jesse Jackson, Jr.”
Thibault is cooperating with the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into possible violations of the Hatch Act, his lawyer said, and “he expects to be fully exonerated. He also welcomes inquiries into whether he took certain actions for partisan political reasons.” “He firmly believes that any investigation will conclude that his supervision, leadership and decision-making were not influenced by political bias or partisanship of any kind,” his attorney said. “He is confident that all of his decisions were consistent with the FBI’s highest standards of ethics and integrity.”
In response to the lawyer’s statement, Grassley said: “Mr. Thibault’s statement fails to address the allegations raised by complaints that provided specific and credible allegations of political bias and his failure to comply with guidelines and standards of the Department and the FBI. … Political bias should have no place in the FBI. We need accountability, so Congress must continue the investigation and the inspector general must fully investigate, as I have requested.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com