A former FBI agent said today that impeached U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. did not mention taking money from his former law partners when the agent interviewed Porteous as part of the Senate confirmation process in 1994.
The testimony came on the third day of Porteous’ impeachment trial before a special Senate committee. It relates to the fourth of four articles of impeachment against the New Orleans federal judge — that he “knowingly made material false statements about his past” during his nomination to the federal bench.
Bobby Hamil, the former FBI agent, interviewed Porteous on Aug. 18, 1994, according to documents from the interview. During the interview, Porteous did not mention money he received from the law firm Amato & Creely or an alleged kickback scheme he had with the firm, Hamil said today from the Senate committee’s witness table. Porteous also did not mention that he had expunged a felony conviction for an aspiring bail bondsman whose employer often bought meals and gifts for Porteous, the former agent said.
“If he had made such statements to you, would you have included those in your 302?” asked Harold Damelin, a former Blank Rome partner who is a counsel to the House’s impeachment managers. (The FBI’s Form 302 is used to record investigative notes.)
“Yes,” replied Hamil, who is now the police chief at Clayton State University in Georgia. He served in the FBI for 25 years, he said.
Among the agent’s questions, according to documents, was a catchall question about whether Porteous was aware of anything in his own background that could be used against him. Porteous replied that he was not.
Under cross examination by Bryan Cave associate PJ Meitl, Hamil said he has a limited recollection of interviewing Porteous and others related to Porteous’ nomination. “I remember the name, and looking back at the report, I remember some of the last names of the people I interviewed,” Hamil said. “I can’t recall the contextual situation of any of the interviews.”
Hamil said that his interview with Porteous was not under oath, and that Porteous, like other FBI interviewees, was not given an opportunity to review his answers after the interview. No one he interviewed in 25 years gave any answer other than "no" to the catchall question, he said.
Earlier today, Porteous’ lead attorney, Jonathan Turley, objected to admitting the FBI documents into evidence, arguing to senators that he had understood they would be disallowed. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the committee’s chairwoman, allowed the notes in, saying individual senators may disregard the notes if they choose.
“This is not some place where the rules of evidence that we learn in law school are going to be strictly applied,” McCaskill said. Rather, she said the question is, “Is this something that the Senate at large should have an opportunity to review?”