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AG Garland confirms ‘new evidence’ in review of decision not to prosecute FBI agents handling Nassar probe

<i>TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/POOL/Getty Images</i><br/>Attorney General Merrick Garland
POOL/AFP via Getty Images
TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/POOL/Getty Images
Attorney General Merrick Garland

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Christina Carrega, CNN

Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed Wednesday that the Justice Department has “new evidence” in its ongoing review of the decision not to prosecute two former FBI officials who were accused of mishandling the investigation into former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Earlier this month, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that the department was reviewing the matter, including “new information that has come to light.”

Appearing before lawmakers for an oversight hearing Wednesday, Garland was asked by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy for an update on the review.

“I believe Deputy Attorney General Monaco said at her hearing that we are reviewing this matter. New evidence has come to light and that is cause for review of the matters that you’re discussing,” Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He did not provide further detail about the new evidence.

Sexual abuse allegations from gymnasts and the USA Gymnastics organization against Nassar were reported to the FBI in 2015 and 2016. An investigation was opened in 2018 into the FBI’s handling of the case, and a Justice Department inspector general report found that the FBI agents violated the agency’s policies by making false statements and failed to properly document complaints by the accusers.

The report also revealed that the Justice Department under both Garland and William Barr declined to prosecute either of the two former FBI agents — W. Jay Abbott and Michael Langeman — for allegedly failing to pursue the allegations of sexual abuse.

Last month, renowned gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols spoke before a Senate committee about how the FBI botched the investigation and handling of their allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar.

The FBI recently fired Langeman, the agent who had interviewed Maroney, while Abbott retired in early 2018.

Garland on Wednesday said that “heart-wrenching is not even strong enough as a description of what happened to those gymnasts and to the testimony they gave.”

Nassar is currently serving a 40-to-174-year state prison sentence after pleading guilty. More than 150 women and girls said he sexually abused them over the past two decades.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal questioned whether there’s an ethical violation that Josh Minkler, the former US attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, is representing Abbott.

Minkler’s office worked with Abbott when he allegedly botched the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar.

“I don’t know whether that’s a violation of ethical rules or some other kinds of Department of Justice policies, but it raises significant questions and the department should have an interest in them,” Blumenthal said.

Minkler served in the Indiana office from 2017 and resigned in November 2020. CNN has reached out to Minkler for comment.

This story has been updated with additional details Wednesday.

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CNN’s Sarah Fortinsky contributed to this report.

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