Michael Grimm, meet irony.
Grimm is a former undercover FBI agent turned congressman from Staten Island who, this last week, was indicted by the U.S. attorney in New York on 20 counts of mail, wire and tax fraud.
Grimm’s response to the charges? Outrage! The U.S. Attorney’s Office was leaking “all kinds of innuendos and accusations to support a political witch hunt,” Grimm argued. The goal was to “assassinate my character,” he said. “I know I’m a moral man,” he insisted.
The FBI didn’t hold back in dealing with a former employee. “He cheated, evaded and then lied,” George Venizelos, who runs the FBI’s New York office, said of the congressman.
At issue, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges, is that Grimm concealed more than $1 million in salary and wages for employees of his Manhattan health-food restaurant — known, amazingly, as Healthalicious.
The federal investigation of Grimm began because of allegations that tens of thousands of dollars had been illegally funneled to his winning 2010 campaign by supporters of Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a celebrity rabbi who, among other things, has given financial advice to LeBron James. It’s unclear whether any campaign finance charges will result from that part of the probe.
If you’re wondering why Grimm’s name seems familiar, he made national headlines — including his first Worst Week in Washington — after this year’s State of the Union address when he threatened to break a local TV news reporter “in half” or, alternatively, to “throw you off this f---ing balcony.”
Grimm, for turning your congressional career into a future FBI case study, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Chris Cillizza covers the White House for The Washington Post and writes The Fix, its politics blog.