President Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is facing accusations that she deceived the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources about her links to an eco-terrorist plot in the 80s.
Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee ranking member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., accused Biden’s BLM director nominee Tracy Stone-Manning of "intentionally trying to deceive" the committee when she said in a questionnaire that she had never been the target of a law enforcement investigation.
In 1993, Stone-Manning was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony that she retyped and sent an anonymous letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, her former roommate and friend, Fox News previously reported.
The letter told the Forest Service that 500 pounds of "spikes measuring 8 to 10 inches in length" had been jammed into the trees of an Idaho forest. "P.S., You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people could get hurt," the note concluded.
While Stone-Manning told senators that she had never been the target of an investigation, that appears to conflict with what she previously said about the case.
Stone-Manning was one of seven people subpoenaed for fingerprints, hair samples, palm prints and handwriting samples as part of a grand jury investigation into the tree spiking, the Montana Kaimin reported in 1989.
In 1990, Stone-Manning complained to The Spokesman-Review, a newspaper in Washington state, about the way she was treated by FBI and U.S. Forest Service agents who were investigating the tree spiking incident.
"It was degrading. It changed my awareness of the power of the government," Stone-Manning said at the time. "Yes, this was happening to me and not someone in Panama. And, yes, the government does do bad things sometimes."
In 1993, Stone-Manning told The Missoulian, a Montana paper, that she could have been charged with conspiracy if she hadn't agreed to testify against Blount.
"It's clear that Ms. Stone-Manning was intentionally trying to deceive the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources," Barrasso said on Thursday. "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," the number three Senate Republican added.
In her committee questionnaire, Stone-Manning said she had never "been the target" of a federal, state or local criminal investigation.
She did touch on her testimony, though, saying she had given it "as part of an investigation into an alleged tree spiking incident related to a timber sale." Stone-Manning did not mention reportedly being subpoenaed for handwriting and hair samples by a federal grand jury in 1989.
During a committee hearing on Thursday, Barrasso asked Forest Service chief Vicki Christiansen if someone should go to the authorities should they be "made aware" of a tree spiking plot, to which Christiansen replied in the affirmative.
"Tracy Stone-Manning is President Biden’s nominee for the Bureau of Land Management," Barrasso said in response. "She was presented with this very choice and decided not to do the right thing and go to the authorities."
Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, who also sits on the Senate Natural Resources Committee, also chimed in during the Thursday hearing, saying Stone-Manning was "involved, and conspired, and participated with these tree spikers in that Post Office Sale" and pointed out that the spikes still exist in the trees, posing potential danger to people.
"The Post Office Sale has trees still standing that has tree spikes in them," Risch said. "Do you have any kind of program as far as trying to root out which of those trees – they tell me some of the spikes are 150 feet off the ground."
Tree spiking is a dangerous and violent eco-terrorism tactic where metal rods are inserted into trees to prevent them from being cut down. The metal rods damage saws that, in turn, have severely injured people, such as a mill worker whose jaw was split in two from an exploding saw.
Stone-Manning admitted to mailing the letter for Blount in 1989 after receiving the letter from him but said she was unaware the spiking had occurred until reading it. Blount was sentenced to 17 months in prison after being convicted of spiking the trees in Idaho.
The Interior Department declined to comment for this story.
An administration source who was briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak on the record told Fox News on Tuesday that Stone-Manning has been candid about her testimony and that she does not condone actions that could harm others.
"Thirty years ago, Tracy testified against someone who had attempted to cause harm by spiking trees," the source said. "She had been approached by a man with a warning letter, which she sent to the U.S. Forest Service because she did not want anyone to get hurt."
"She has always been honest and transparent about this matter, which has been covered by the media for decades, and ultimately testified against the responsible individual, who was convicted," they continued. "She has spent her adult life and career achieving cooperative solutions to western land and water challenges, and has never condoned any action that could lead to injury to anyone."
On Thursday, Americans for Public Trust (APT), a nonpartisan government accountability group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Montana Governor’s Office and related agencies requesting "records for her past roles in Montana state government over selling political access and her associations with extremist groups," according to a news release.
APT said that "given the significant authority she would be given at the Bureau of Land Management, it is critical that the American public have confidence in her ability to lead this agency."