Top GOP Senator calls for Biden to withdraw nominee over involvement in ‘eco-terrorism’
Senator John Barrasso called on President Joe Biden to withdraw his nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management for deceiving his committee about her involvement in “eco-terrorism” in the past.
“It’s clear that Ms. Stone-Manning was intentionally trying to deceive the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,” Barrasso said. “She told the committee she had never been the subject of an investigation and yet complained about being investigated in the press. President Biden should withdraw her nomination.”
Biden’s nominee, Tracy Stone-Manning told the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee that she had never been the target of a federal criminal investigation, going against her own words from 1989 and 1993 when she complained of the treatment she received while being investigated by the FBI.
A Montana newspaper reported back in October of 1989 that Stone-Manning was one of seven individuals who were served with subpoenas and were forced to provide law enforcement with fingerprints, palm prints, handwriting samples, and hair samples all to be used for investigating who sabotaged a local forest with tree spikes.
Stone-Manning was quoted herself expressing her anger regarding the “degrading” experience of being subjected to the FBI’s investigation. “It was degrading. It changed my awareness of the power of the government,” Stone-Manning said. “Yes, this was happening to me and not someone in Panama. And, yes, the government does do bad things sometimes.”
The Assistant U.S. Attorney at the time, George Breitsmater wrote in a memo before the 1993 trial that the individuals subpoenaed in 1989 “were believed to be involved in the spiking.” Breitsmater added that the subpoenas were issued as part of a “criminal investigation,” but not enough evidence was gathered to identify the individuals who were responsible for the tree spiking.
Stone-Manning received legal immunity from prosecution in 1993 for testifying against the key suspect in the case, who she identified in court as being her former roommate and a close friend. She also testified that John P. Blount instructed her to send a threatening letter to the Forest Service in 1989, saying that a forest in Idaho had been sabotaged with tree spikes shortly before it was set to be logged.
“P.S. You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people could get hurt,” her letter to the Forest Service stated.
Before sending the letter, she testified that she retyped it on a rented typewriter because her fingerprints were all over the original, and she “didn’t want it on my personal computer.”
“What I really feel, though, is that I reported a crime, although anonymously,” she said.
Stone-Manning has given differing accounts of her involvement in the crime in the decades that followed. In 1993, she told local media outlets that she felt safe enough to inform law enforcement that she mailed the threatening letter to the Forest Service on behalf of Blount after she found out he was arrested earlier that year. “Once he was in jail, I was safe,” she said. “It was time to come forward. It was my responsibility.”
However, in 2013 she gave a different account of her involvement after then Montana Governor Steve Bullock nominated her to be the director of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.
Stone-Manning said she was contacted by Blount’s ex-girlfriend in 1993, who told her that Blount was soon to be released from prison and that he would not be released if she testified about his involvement in the tree spiking case.
“She knew everything about the tree-spiking story and she knew if she told everything that could keep him in jail,” Stone-Manning said in 2013, according to media reports. “She asked if I would testify, and I said yes, and he went to jail.”
When lawmakers questioned her about her involvement in the tree spiking incident, she described Blount as a “rather disturbed person,” while leaving out the fact that she once described him as a member of her close circle of friends in her 1993 testimony. Neither version of events presented by Stone-Manning align completely with the timeline presented in Breitsmater’s pre-trial memo.
The Biden administration said Friday that they were “fully informed” of Stone-Mannings 1993 testimony and involvement in the tree spiking incident prior to her nomination.
Stone-Manning “has always been honest and transparent about this matter, which has been covered by the media for decades,” the administration said.