Andrew Luger served as the highly regarded United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota from February 2014 to March 2017 under President Obama and the early days of the Trump administration. A favorite of Amy Klobuchar, Luger has been nominated by President Biden to serve again as our United States Attorney. I wrote about his prospective renomination in “The return of Andrew Luger.” Please see it for the relevant background.
When Ilhan Omar’s political career hung by a thread in August 2016, Luger singlehandedly saved it by writing a letter denying the accuracy of Tom Lyden’s FOX 9 story reporting that she was under investigation. A copy of Luger’s letter is embedded in the body of the linked post. In the aftermath of Luger’s letter FOX 9 deleted Lyden’s story. It has been deposited down the memory hole.
I hoped that someone would take this matter up in connection with Luger’s current nomination. Senator Tom Cotton is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has raised the issues directly with Luger himself. I have obtained a copy of the questions posed by Senator Cotton to Luger along with the responses submitted by Luger yesterday. They are embedded below via Scribd.
In his questions at footnote 3 Senator Cotton cites an August 23, 2016 FOX 9 story that expressly refers to the ICE investigation of Omar’s plural marriages, including the one to her brother. Reporting on Luger’s letter, the FOX 9 story is “U.S. Attorney responds to Fox 9 story on Ilhan Omar.” The FOX 9 story reported:
In a letter to Omar’s attorney, Jean Brandl, Luger writes, “As you are aware, an erroneous news report aired yesterday on Fox 9 indicating that my office has requested an investigation into the immigration status of Ms. Omar.”
In fact, the Fox 9 report did not address Omar’s immigration status, but said ICE was investigating Omar’s two separate marriages — one a religious ceremony in 2002 to her current husband and the father of her three children, and one civil in 2009 to a citizen of the United Kingdom.
Omar’s campaign calls the claims a “witch hunt” by the conservative blog where the story originated.
ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer said ICE will neither confirm nor deny an investigation into the marriages.
Asked why he advised Brandl that Omar was not under investigation by his office despite Department of Justice policy to the contrary, Luger replied: “The policy referred to in this question relates, as I understand it, to communications with the media. In this situation, I wrote a letter to the lawyer for an individual correcting a false statement. It was and is my understanding that a United States Attorney has the discretion to inform an individual whether they are or are not the target of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is what I did.”
He further responds: “[T]his was not an exception to Department of Justice policy. My
recollection is that the story contained a false statement that, as United States Attorney, I had requested an investigation into a political candidate, Ilhan Omar, suggesting that she was the target of an investigation. I believed that Ms. Omar should be informed that this was incorrect and, as U.S. Attorney, I had the discretion to inform her that the story was inaccurate.”
Asked whether he had any reason to believe that ICE was investigating or otherwise interested in Omar, Luger responds: “I do not recall. My focus was on the allegations that the United States Attorney had asked for an investigation into Ms. Omar.” He adds that his “focus was on the allegations that the United States Attorney had asked for an investigation into Ms. Omar.”
Luger’s 2016 letter to Brandl had the effect of shutting down the intense local media interest in the story of Omar’s fraudulent marriage to her brother. Documentary evidence supporting the fraud became available when the Minnesota state campaign finance board released its investigative file on Omar’s 2016 state legislative campaign in June 2019.
The Star Tribune ran an important story by Patrick Coolican and Stephen Montemayor based on these documents. The Star Tribune failed to find a single fact supporting Omar’s version of events. She declined their request for an interview and accused the Star Tribune itself of bigotry for pursuing the story. She gave the Star Tribune the treatment she had given Power Line in 2016.
My own reporting in 2019 suggested that Tom Lyden’s FOX 9 story had it right with respect to an ICE investigation of Omar in 2016, whether or not Luger himself asked for it. Embarrassment should attach to the role Luger’s letter played at the moment her career hung in the balance. Luger’s letter saved her bacon.
Everything we have learned since 2016 supports the fact that Omar had fraudulently married her brother in 2009 and remained married to him while she was running for office with her “real” husband and father of her children by her side in 2016. She has since divorced her brother and married and divorced her “real” husband, just to clean it all up. The Star Tribune has resumed business as usual. Andrew Luger is back.