Lead investigator of eco-terrorist plot involving Biden nominee says she was the 'nastiest of the suspects'

Michael Merkley said he and his family received death threats from the eco-terrorist group

The lead Forest Service investigator of the eco-terrorist plot involving President Biden's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) director nominee sent a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday pushing back against Tracy Stone-Manning's testimony.

Michael Merkley, a retired criminal investigator for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service with over 28 years of service, said he felt compelled to write the letter to the Senate committee because many of the reports he had seen about the tree-spiking case linked to Stone-Manning were "inaccurate or incomplete" and misrepresented her as a "bystander or a victim."

"Contrary to many stories in the news, Ms. Stone-Manning was not an innocent bystander, nor was she a victim in this case," Merkley wrote. "And, she most certainly was not a hero. Ms. Stone-Manning was not only a member of Earth First!, but she played an active role in the Earth First! hierarchy."

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Later in the letter, Merkley detailed his experience working with Stone-Manning during the investigation, calling her the "nastiest of the suspects."

"She was vulgar, antagonistic and extremely anti-government. She was very uncooperative and refused to provide the hair, hand writing exemplars, and fingerprints as ordered by the federal grand jury," Merkley said. "It was not until after we informed her that she would be arrested if she did not comply with the subpoena that she reluctantly provided those samples to me. However, she refused to answer any of my other questions."

Manchin pressured to oppose Biden BLM nominee Stone-Manning linked to eco-terrorist plot 

Manchin pressured to oppose Biden BLM nominee Stone-Manning linked to eco-terrorist plot 

Merkley said he eventually learned later in the investigation that Stone-Manning knew all along "who had perpetrated the crimes in the Clearwater National Forest" and said she only came forward in 1993 to give up her co-conspirators in the tree-spiking case "after her attorney struck the immunity deal, and not before she was caught." He continued, "At no time did she come forward of her own volition, and she was never entirely forthcoming."

Merkley concluded the letter by talking about his experience investigating Earth First! and said it led him to retire early in 1997 because he started receiving death threats from the ecoterrorist organization and he was "made aware that they had solicited a contract to kill me and harm my family." He said he is still "concerned" what the group could do to him and his family.

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Despite the letter from Merkley revealing Stone-Manning lied to the Senate committee, the White House is still supporting her nomination.

"Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters," a White House official told Fox News in an email. "She is exceptionally qualified to the be the next director of the Bureau of Land Management." 

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, slammed Stone-Manning in a statement to Fox News, saying she "lied to the committee."

"I am grateful to the lead investigator for providing the committee with all of the facts of the case," said Barrasso. "Not only did Tracy Stone-Manning collaborate with ecoterrorists, she also helped plan the tree spiking in Clearwater National Forest. She has been covering up these actions for decades, including on her sworn affidavit to the committee. This new information confirms that Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the committee that she was never a target of an investigation. The nominee has no business leading the Bureau of Land Management. President Biden must withdraw her nomination and if he does not, the Senate must vote it down."

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Barrasso is one of several Republican senators sounding the alarm about Stone-Manning. Every Republican on the Senate Energy Committee signed a letter Wednesday calling for Biden to pull Stone-Manning's nomination.