Yesterday, CBS News published documents that showed the State Department had quashed or obstructed Inspector General investigations into serious wrongdoing by high-ranking officials, including one Ambassador who ditched his security team to importune prostitutes in public parks. Today, that story gets more sordid in NBC’s follow-up, which shows that investigators suspected the same Ambassador of targeting minor children Meanwhile, the State Department calls allegations of obstruction and interference “preposterous”:
The alleged misconduct took place during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure, according to the documents, which also say those activities may not have been properly looked into.
Top state department officials directed investigators to “cease the investigation” into the ambassador’s conduct, according to the memo.
A state department spokesperson would not confirm the specific investigations, but told NBC News “the notion that we would not vigorously pursue criminal misconduct in a case, in any case, is preposterous.”
Former State Department investigator Aurelia Fedenisn has said that investigators dropped the ball in the case, and that a final report published in March of this year was “watered down,” according to her attorney.
“She felt it was important that Congress get this information,” Fedenisn’s lawyer Cary Schulman told NBC News.
And this looks worse than it did yesterday:
The ambassador who came under investigation “routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to documents obtained by NBC News.
This ambassador got recalled to Washington for a meeting with Patrick Kennedy, Hillary Clinton’s right-hand man at Foggy Bottom. Instead of getting relieved and investigated, CBS reported yesterday that the man was “permitted to return to his post.” Did Kennedy make that decision? Or did Hillary Clinton?
Chuck Todd reports that Rep. Ed Royce, chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, plans to open an investigation into this scandal. That should include subpoenas for Kennedy and Clinton, and we can see whether Clinton’s famous rejoinder to Senator Ron Johnson gets deployed again in her defense. It’s going to take a lot of explaining to convince anyone why the US sent a man to represent our nation whose own internal security suspected him of sneaking out to target minor children for sexual exploitation — and why these investigations got obstructed to the point where the IG had to blow the whistle to Congress.
Update: The New York Post names names:
A State Department whistleblower has accused high-ranking staff of a massive coverup — including keeping a lid on findings that members of then-Secretary Hillary Clinton’s security detail and the Belgian ambassador solicited prostitutes.
A chief investigator for the agency’s inspector general wrote a memo outlining eight cases that were derailed by senior officials, including one instance of interference by Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.
And the ambassador? The Post ID’s him as a big Obama bundler:
A DS agent was called off a case against US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman over claims that he solicited prostitutes, including minors.
“The agent began his investigation and had determined that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” says the memo.
“The ambassador’s protective detail and the embassy’s surveillance detection team . . . were well aware of the behavior.”
Gutman was a big bundler for Obama in 2008, raising over $500,000 for his campaign and cutting checks for the inaugural. That may not be terribly unusual for ambassadors in any administration, but the bizarre decision to keep Gutman in place certainly suggests a possible connection between his donations and State’s decision to cut off the investigation.