WASHINGTON – The FBI and Justice Department have paid a retired FBI agent $85,000 to settle his lawsuit alleging that he was reassigned without justification and his reputation smeared during the Clinton administration, his lawyers said Thursday.
Dennis Sculimbrene, who was the senior agent detailed to the White House during the Clinton years, said he was forced out of his job and into early retirement in 1996 during the FBI files affair. A memorandum he wrote years earlier appeared to tie Hillary Clinton to the hiring of Craig Livingstone, who was embroiled in the FBI files controversy as a security official at the Clinton White House.
Sculimbrene also had testified in opposition to the position of the Clinton White House about events at issue in the trial of Bill Ray Dale, the former head of the White House Travel Office who was fired after Bill Clinton became president.
"I worked for the premiere law enforcement agency in the country, and it committed illegal acts toward me by removing me from a job I excelled in," Sculimbrene said.
Sculimbrene worked for the FBI for 23 years, 10 of which he was assigned to the White House doing background checks. He retired at age 54, though he said he was entitled to work until age 57.
Sculimbrene's lawsuit against FBI, Justice Department and others alleged that Sculimbrene became the victim of a smear campaign. The suit was filed on Sculimbrene's behalf in 1999 by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal interest group that investigates government misconduct.
In the lawsuit, Sculimbrene said that two months into the Clinton administration in 1993 he did an investigation into Livingstone, who was being considered to head White House personnel security.
Sculimbrene interviewed former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, who said Livingstone had been highly recommended by Hillary Clinton, who apparently knew Livingstone's mother, according to the lawsuit.
Nussbaum and White House officials had previously said Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with Livingstone's hiring.
Livingstone resigned after it was learned that he oversaw the collection of hundreds of FBI files on current and former White House staffers, including some high-ranking Republicans in the Reagan and Bush administrations.
There was concern that the files might have been used for political purposes, but no instances of that were ever confirmed. The White House said it was merely following the standard practice of re-establishing a personnel file system on people who worked there after the previous president departed with all the files from his administration. They said an outdated list obtained from the Secret Service was the reason the files of some departed Republicans were obtained from the bureau.
A federal judge dropped the individual defendants from the lawsuit. The case was settled earlier this year and Sculimbrene received his $85,000 last month, Judicial Watch said.