An FBI agent’s retirement last Friday was unrelated to politicized comments he made on social media or his purported link to the Hunter Biden investigation, according to a statement from his lawyer.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge 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, not forced to retire, and not asked to retire.”
“In the last couple of months, and particularly the last 24 hours,” said the unnamed attorney from the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, “there have been a number of inaccurate media stories and allegations 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, former Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department decision-making in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn cases. Grassley suggested Thibault may have violated the Hatch Act, which limits political activity by civil servants.
When prompted during testimony in front of a congressional committee, Wray called the types of posts that Grassley highlighted “deeply troubling.”
In July, Grassley sent another letter to Wray and Garland alleging that in October 2020, “an avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting was ordered closed at the direction of ASAC Thibault. … [I]t’s alleged that FBI officials, including ASAC Thibault, subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future.”
The attorney’s statement said that Thibault was not involved in the search of Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, “either in its planning or its execution,” and did not supervise the investigation of Hunter Biden, “which, as confirmed by the FBI Director on Aug. 4, 2022, is being handled by the Baltimore Field Office.” Thibault worked in the Washington, D.C., field office. “In particular,” the statement said, “Mr. Thibault was not involved in any decisions related to any laptop that may be at issue in that investigation, and he did not seek to close the investigation.”
U.S. 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 move forward without his approval prior to the 2020 election. The Hunter Biden investigation is ongoing.
The statement from Thibault’s lawyer said that the agent was eligible for retirement and told his superiors about a month ago that he intended to leave, “following more than 30 years of devoting himself to the protection of the American people and to upholding the Constitution of the United States in a nonpartisan fashion.” The attorney noted Thibault had spent nearly two decades leading investigations into corruption by members of both political parties, “such as investigations that led to the convictions of [Democratic] Congressmen William Jefferson and Jesse Jackson, Jr.”
Thibault is cooperating with the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into possible Hatch Act violations, his attorney said, and “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 impacted 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 for ethics and integrity.”
In a response to the lawyer's statement, Grassley said, “Mr. Thibault’s statement fails to address the allegations brought forth by whistleblowers who provided specific and credible allegations of political bias and his failure to comply with Department and FBI guidelines and standards. ... Political bias should have no place at the FBI. We need accountability, which is why Congress must continue investigating and the inspector general must fully investigate as I’ve requested.”
Editor’s Note: After being contacted by Sen. Grassley’s office, we have changed the reference to Thibault allegedly closing a Hunter Biden inquiry to quote directly from Grassley’s July letter.