Timothy Thibault, a top-level FBI agent who had been under fire for his role in investigations regarding President Biden's son,, resigned late last week and was walked out of the FBI, two U.S. officials confirmed. But these officials also said that Thibault had reached retirement age, and they added that all of those who retire hand over their badge and gun and are escorted out of the building.
Thibault, who worked in the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., had recently been removed from his position as assistant special agent in charge at the FBI's Washington Field Office, which covers all of the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia.
Thibault came under fire earlier this year from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley who had accused him of "improper conduct" in the Hunter Biden investigation, alleging that Thibault had tried to shut down any investigatory activity. The probe into Hunter Biden's business practices, run by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware, is ongoing.
Grassley said in late July thathad approached a senior Senate Republican and alleged a widespread effort within the FBI to downplay or discredit negative information about Hunter Biden. He cited a 2020 FBI intelligence assessment that was "used by an FBI headquarters team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation." He continued, "Based on allegations, verified and verifiable derogatory information on Hunter Biden was falsely labeled as disinformation."
In October 2020, one month before the election, "an avenue of derogatory Hunter Biden reporting was ordered closed" by a senior FBI agent at the bureau's Washington Field Office. An earlier letter from Grassley identified the agent as Thibault.
"[T]he allegations provided to my office appear to indicate that there was a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation," Grassley claimed.
In addition to concerns about the handling of the investigation into Hunter Biden, Grassley accused Thibault of likely violations of "[f]ederal laws, regulations and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) guidelines" in a May 31 letter.
"Whistleblowers have reported to me, that although the FBI and Justice Department maintain policies dictating specific standards requiring substantial factual predication to initiate an investigation, Thibault and other Justice Department and FBI employees failed to comply with these requirements," he wrote.
The letter also singled out Justice Department official Richard Pilger, identified as the director of the Election Crimes Branch within the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, who, along with Thibault, were alleged to be "deeply involved in the decisions to open and pursue this investigation," an apparent reference to a probe recently opened into the Trump campaign.
Grassley told FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland "the opening memo you approved," included media reporting citing research from a "liberal non-profit" when a full investigation of a political nature requires "a heightened factual basis."
Grassley continued, "In light of these allegations, I remain very concerned that political bias by a select group of Justice Department and FBI officials has infected the Justice Department's and FBI's usual process and procedure to open and pursue high-profile and politically charged investigations."
After Grassley's office released the letter in July, the Justice Department said it had received the letter, declined to comment further, and did not refer CBS News to any counsel for Pilger.
A statement from Thibault's counsel said he was "not fired, not forced to retire and not asked to retire," and he walked out of the FBI building "by himself."
"Claims to the contrary are false," the statement said.
His counsel also said allegations that Thibault's social media posts potentially violated the Hatch Act, a federal law governing the political activity of executive branch employees, are under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel, and Thibault is "cooperating with that investigation, urges the Office to complete its review, and expects to be fully exonerated."
The statement noted Thibault was not involved in an Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump's South Florida residence, conducted by the FBI and did not supervise the investigation into Hunter Biden, which the FBI's Baltimore Field Office is handling.
In response to Thibault's resignation, Grassley said in a statement, "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."
He added, "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."
Wray was asked about Thibault at a hearing earlier this month on Capitol Hill and said allegations that Thibault "liked" social media posts critical of Trump associates was "troubling." He also pledged the bureau would be "scrupulous in our adherence to rules related to whistleblowers."
"If there are allegations of misconduct by FBI employees, we want to make sure that we get that information so we can use the tools we have to go after that conduct," he said. "But certainly, I condemn in the strongest possible terms any prospect of retaliation against whistleblowers."
The FBI declined to comment.
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