A former FBI analyst on Friday was ordered to serve seven days in jail, 50 hours of community service, and pay a $500 fine after he admitted to illegally accessing the emails of D.C. lobbyist Jack Burkman.
Burkman teamed up with conservative provocateur Jacob Wohl during the 2018 Kavanaugh confirmation trials in a failed stunt to paint then-special counsel Robert Mueller as a sex offender. The pair were accused of paying a woman to levy the claim, which they denied.
According to Politico, Mark Tolson, 60, pleaded guilty in September to a single misdemeanor charge of computer fraud and abuse for unlawfully accessing Burkman’s emails. Tolson’s wife gave him Burkman’s email password, which she obtained while previously working for the lobbyist.
Tolson admitted he unlawfully accessed Burkman’s emails in October 2018, after the conspiracy-minded lobbyist announced plans to hold a news conference to air sexual harassment allegations against Mueller.
After snooping through Burkman’s account, Tolson sent screenshots of the messages and offered the password to an unspecified journalist, court filings say.
Tolson’s wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, facilitated the illicit access by providing Burkman’s email password, which she had obtained for work she’d previously done for him. -Politico
During Tolson’s Friday morning sentencing in Alexandria, VA, the longtime FBI employee told US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema that he was compelled to crack into Burkman’s email in order “to protect Director Mueller” from what he believed to be false allegations.
“It was because of the press conference, your honor,” said the ex-FBI official.
US Attorney Alexander Berrang, who recommended a short prison term, suggested that Tolson’s motives weren’t exactly as pure as that – as his wife believed Burkman owed her money, and Tolson was personally annoyed with the D.C. lobbyist. Tolson’s decision to take the information to a journalist instead of to the FBI suggests that his actions weren’t about preventing harm to Mueller or his probe, according to the report.
Tolson’s attorney, Edward MacMahon Jr. hit back, saying “There was no other motivation here other than to protect Mueller.”
Judge Brinkema responded, saying “The government makes a good point,” adding “Why wouldn’t you go to the FBI instead of the press?” to which MacMahon said Tolson did notify the FBI what he had done within about a day, but he was primarily focused on scuttling the planned press conference which was eventually canceled.
Tolson received a serious finger wag from Brinekma, who said: “This is actually a very serious offense,” adding “You’re lucky. Your wife is lucky. The government could have prosecuted her as well.”