The FBI considered running a sting operation against Newt Gingrich when he was House speaker in 1997. The operation was sparked by allegations by an arms dealer about a $10 million bribe to lift the Iraqi arms embargo, The Washington Post
The operation was called off when the FBI decided there was no evidence that Gingrich knew about recorded conversations the arms dealer was having with a man who said he was acting on behalf of Marianne Gingrich, then the speaker’s wife, the Post reported.
Details of the case became public this week when Joseph Trento posted a 6,400-word story on the website DC Bureau, along with FBI documents about the case.
“There are so many falsehoods,” Marianne Gingrich told the Post. “The FBI, they should have been protecting me, not going after me. This is scary stuff.”
Victoria Toensing, Marianne Gingrich’s lawyer, added: “There was no basis whatsoever for an investigation. These were people puffing, which means they were making up access to a high-level government person.”
According to the Post, the investigation began when arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian told prosecutors and the FBI that Marianne Gingrich had said during a 1995 meeting that she could provide legislative favors through her husband. Soghanalian, a convicted felon and federal informant who is now dead, said in an FBI document drawn up to continue wiretap approvals that Marianne Gingrich assured him “she would be able to do anything [Soghanalian] requested of her ‘as long as they had an understanding,’ ” the Post reported.
The case went so far as to require Washington approval. “There wasn’t any direct evidence that he knew anything,” a source told the Post about why the investigation against Gingrich was not approved. “The rules are you just can’t go in there and do an integrity check on someone.”
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