A former analyst with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Tuesday admitted to unlawfully accessing, copying, and distributing the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist.
Mark Tolson, 60, pleaded guilty to one count of accessing emails without authorization, a misdemeanor, for accessing the account of Republican lobbyist and talk radio host Jack Burkman, according to the Washington Post. Under the terms of the plea deal, Tolson turned over two personal phones and two personal computers and agreed not to contact Burkman in the future.
Burkman, who previously served as legislative counsel to Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) in the nineties, is known for peddling conspiracy theories about former DNC staffer Seth Rich’s murder and promoting the existence of a “deep state” shadow-government.
“I’m a big believer in the deep state,” Burkman said in the recent past. “I used to think it was all nuts. But the more you look into that stuff, the more real it becomes.”
In October of 2018, Burkman and conservative operative Jacob Wohl attempted to smear former special counsel Robert Mueller by allegedly offering women money to make false claims that they were sexually assaulted by the former FBI director.
Tolson was able to access Burkman’s emails through his wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, who worked for Burkman from the end of 2017 until the summer of 2018 and had access to Burkman’s private email account. Through his wife’s access to the account, Tolson learned about Burkman’s plan to publicly announce the fabricated sexual assault claims against Mueller.
According to the report, Tolson asked Fox, who no longer worked for Burkman, to see if she could still get into Burkman’s account. After successfully accessing Burkman’s emails, the two reviewed, photographed, and printed “emails of interest,” before logging off. Tolson and his wife then reportedly contacted a reported with the intent of sharing Burkman’s emails.
After speaking with the reporter, Tolson contacted an FBI agent and asked to meet regarding an “urgent” issue. The agent agreed and Tolson provided print-outs of Burkman’s emails when the two met later that day. Tolson told the agent he believed the contents of the emails could be illegal.
Tolson is currently out on bond. His will next appear in court on Dec. 20 for sentencing.
[image via YouTube screengrab]