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Fri Dec 16, 2011, 06:48 PM

Did FBI Bury Its 1990s Gingrich Probe? [View all]


Did FBI Bury Its 1990s Gingrich Probe?

By Andrew Kreig

The FBI in the 1990s investigated reports that then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich was at the center of a $10 million bribery plot involving his second wife, Marianne. But the FBI dropped the investigation before determining if any money might change hands after the bureau's director concluded the FBI lacked sufficient evidence to pursue a sting for evidence. That's the central allegation of a report Dec. 13 by DC-based investigative reporter Joseph Trento, who claims that the FBI 'buried" the probe. The Washington Post addressed the matter also in a column published Dec. 16 in the paper. Marianne Gingrich and her attorney say the family name was misused by rumor-mongers -- and there was no bribe, plan or reason for the FBI to investigate.

Trento, a longtime journalist who writes for the web-based national security non-profit DC Bureau, broke the story in a 6,000-word piece entitled, Newt Gingrich, Marianne and the Arms Dealer: A Buried FBI Investigation. The column was based on extensive interviews, including with arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian, who died at 82 in October. "He had sold weapons to scores of dictators including Saddam Hussein," Trento wrote, "and he took many secrets with him to his grave. But one secret he did not take involves Newt Gingrich."

"DC Bureau has learned," Trento continued, "that Gingrich was at the center of a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation in the late 1990s for a scheme to shake down the arms dealer for a $10 million bribe in exchange for Gingrich using his influence as Speaker to get the Iraq arms embargo lifted so Soghanalian could collect $54 million from Saddam Hussein’s regime for weapons he had delivered during the Iran-Iraq War."

In FBI Considered A Sting Aimed At Newt Gingrich In 1997, Post reporter James V. Grimaldi wrote that "a series of second- and third-hand conversations alleging that the top man in Congress might be for sale" caught the attention of federal investigators. “There are so many falsehoods,” Marianne Gingrich, Gingrich's second-wife, told Grimaldi Thursday. “The FBI, they should have been protecting me, not going after me. This is scary stuff.”  Grimaldi wrote that Gingrich’s presidential campaign did not provide immediate comment.


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