Timothy Thibault “voluntarily retired” and “was not fired, not forced to retire, and not asked to retire,” lawyers with Morrison & Foerster LLP said in an emailed statement.
Thibault, an assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Washington Field Office, was “escorted” out of the office on Aug. 26, the Washington Times reported. Thibault was “walked out of the FBI,” CBS reported. Both outlets cited anonymous officials.
Thibault turned in his security badge and “walked with two long-time special agent friends through the field office to finish processing his paperwork,” Thibault’s lawyers said. “He walked out of the building by himself. Claims to the contrary are false.”
Thibault was eligible for retirement after working for over 30 years for the government and he informed his bosses about a month before his retirement about his intention to retire, his lawyers say.
The FBI declined to comment.
Mark Lyttle, a U.S. prosecutor for nearly 17 years and a White House lawyer during the Trump administration, offered praise for Thibault in a statement released by the former official’s counsel. “Agent Thibault spent his career rooting out corruption with integrity and honesty. I am proud to have worked with him and to call him my friend and trusted colleague,” Lyttle, now in private practice, said.
Thibault has come under fire in recent months after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, raised concerns about his social media posts, including one that described former President Donald Trump as “a psychologically broken, embittered, and deeply unhappy man.”
Whistleblowers from within the bureau later told Grassley that the FBI gained information in 2020 about “criminal financial and related activity” carried out by Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The FBI opened an assessment before the 2020 election but a team from the FBI headquarters used the assessment to “improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation” and caused the bureau’s investigation on Hunter Biden “to cease,” Grassley told FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, citing the whistleblowers.
When additional derogatory information about Hunter Biden came to light, Thibault “allegedly ordered the matter closed without providing a valid reason as required by FBI,” Grassley said. FBI officials, including Thibault, then allegedly tried to “improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future.”
Thibault’s lawyers, who have been retained on a pro bono basis, say Thibault believes he did not violate the Hatch Act with his social media posts.
The alleged violations of the law are being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel, the lawyers revealed.
“Mr. Thibault is cooperating with that investigation, urges the Office to complete its review, and expects to be fully exonerated,” they said.
Regarding claims that Thibault took certain actions for partisan reasons, the lawyers said Thibault “welcomes any investigation of these false allegations, regardless of his retirement.”
“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. He is confident that all of his decisions were consistent with the FBI’s highest standards for ethics and integrity,” they said.
Wray, a Trump appointee, said earlier in August that the FBI is investigating Hunter Biden with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware. He said the investigation is being run out of the bureau’s Baltimore Field Office, which is in Maryland.
Thibault did not supervise the investigation into Hunter Biden, the former official’s lawyers say, and 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.” Thibault was also not involved in the search warrant that agents executed at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort this month, according to the lawyers.
Grassley, upon hearing reports that Thibault was no longer with the FBI, said in a statement that Thibault’s “blatant partisanship undermined the work and reputation of the FBI” and said that “the effort to revive the FBI’s credibility can’t stop with his exit.”