Bye-Bye Cookie

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Reuters reports that Howard “Cookie” Krongard has decided to resign as the State Department’s inspector general. The decision comes after a disastrous appearance last month before Rep. Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where Krongard’s testimony invited charges of perjury. Krongard, who had allegedly interfered in an arms smuggling investigation targeting Blackwater USA, initially denied that his brother Buzzy Krongard (a former high-ranking CIA official) was a member of that company’s advisory board. He later changed his tune after reaching Buzzy by phone during a break in the hearing.

It’s unclear why Cookie would have lied. But if by doing so he was trying to protect his brother, the favor went unreturned when reporters reached Buzzy for comment: He explained that he’d told Cookie about his Blackwater affiliation weeks before the hearing. Seeing as Cookie’s congressional testimony had been under oath, the revelation may have opened him up to prosecution. So much for brotherly love.

I spoke with several congressional staffers last week, who suggested that both Cookie and Buzzy would be called to appear before Waxman’s committee to account for Cookie’s bizarre testimony. But now that Cookie has thrown in the towel, it’s unclear if the hearing will take place. According to a statement released this afternoon by Waxman’s office, “Mr. Krongard’s decision removes an enormous distraction from the Inspector General’s office and will allow the office to focus on its important oversight responsibilities. The Committee will certainly take this new development into account.”

Whatever happens, the lack of affection between the brothers Krongard appears to be indicative of larger family dramas. The Washington Post reported in September that Cookie’s son and daughter-in-law, Kenneth and Kristin Krongard, had filed a restraining order to get him to stop sending “unprofessional and highly offensive” emails, in which he threatened that they’d be “put out on the street” if they lost a lawsuit he had brought against them. Cookie filed suit last year, alleging that the couple had defaulted on a $320,000 home loan. Although they paid back the loan in full after the suit’s filing, Cookie is pressing his case, demanding interest and other penalties, as well as reimbursement of at least $114,000 in legal fees. Does Krongard feel guilty about suing his son’s family? Who can say for sure, but the tone of this August missive points to no. “If you are willing to put your wife and children’s future in jeopardy, that’s your business,” he wrote. What a guy.

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