Aaron Schock, the former Republican congressman who resigned from office in 2015 amid spending scrutiny, told Fox News on Thursday that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central Illinois has shown a “lack of judgment” throughout its investigation and called its current case a "fishing expedition."
The 36-year-old from Peoria was indicted in 2016 on charges of misusing funds. He resigned amid scrutiny of his spending, including to redecorate his Capitol Hill office in the style of the television show "Downton Abbey."
Schock told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that he was unfairly targeted by a district attorney’s office that saw him as a rising Republican star and could not resist a chance to “move up the ladder in the Justice Department.”
He said the Department of Justice often defers to local district attorneys to “run their little fiefdom.”
Schock said the office wired up an informant illegally during its investigation and used his Fifth Amendment rights against him.
In 2017, federal Judge Colin Bruce concluded that the lead prosecutor, Timothy Bass, appeared to give inaccurate information to the court about prosecutors informing a grand jury that Schock was subpoenaed and did not appear, Politico reported.
“In fact they had used my Fifth Amendment rights against me 11 times on 11 different occasions,” he told Fox News.
Schock said the case has national implications because it involves the Justice Department reinterpreting House rules.
“They [DOJ] infringed upon the Constitutional Rights of Congress, as well, to make and interpret its own rules,” he said.
He said some of the accusations against him are “almost laughable.”
“According to House rules, you can buy fixtures and not furniture, and so the government has come in and said, “that’s not a fixture, that’s a piece of furniture”…again a false statement to a federal agent-- a 20 year felony.”
The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment when reached by Fox News.
Schock has been investigated for how he spent his office allowance and campaign funds. He used two examples to claim the government is reaching with its charges.
He said the Congress Finance Office accepted his office's estimate of the amount of miles he drove in his district to be reimbursed. The government, however, would not accept the estimates.
He said he faces another 20 years for identifying a light in his office as a light fixure.
“According to House rules, you can buy fixtures and not furniture, and so the government has come in and said, “that’s not a fixture, that’s a piece of furniture”…again a false statement to a federal agent -- a 20-year felony.”
The New York Times reported that Schock's office was painted blood red and had a plume of pheasant feathers. He personally paid back $40,000 for the renovations, the report said.
The Urbana-based Bruce was removed from hearing all his criminal cases after it was revealed he exchanged emails with an employee at the U.S. attorney's office in which he commented on and joked about one of his trials in progress at the time.
It isn't known what the change in judges and several pending motions will do for the case timetable, which has a trial beginning early next year.
Fox News' Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.