FBI releases files on Ailes, Putin aide
The FBI on Friday released some of its files on the late former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes as well as those relating to the investigation of the 2015 death of a former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The 114 pages relating to Ailes date back to 1969, when the FBI conducted a “Special Inquiry” on Ailes for his employment in the White House as a political adviser to President Richard Nixon. The inquiry includes information about Ailes’ early life, family background, education and professional experience. The reports include many positive references from friends, neighbors, professors and co-workers describing Ailes as “a person of good character” and “a very fine decent person.”
In 1988, the FBI conducted an “Expanded Name Check” on Ailes which revealed that on Nov. 10, 1974, he had been arrested by the New York City Police Department for illegally carrying a handgun, which was a class D felony charge of “possession of a weapon bomb/silencer.” According to Gabriel Sherman in his biography of Ailes, titled “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” Ailes had been concerned about his safety at the time.
On Jan. 16, 1975, Ailes pleaded guilty to “criminal possession of a weapon-4th degree,” a class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a conditional discharge and served no time in jail.
The reports also reveal that on April 3, 1981, just four days after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Ailes was interviewed by FBI agents. John Hinckley Jr. was found with two tickets to a March 2, 1981, taping of “The Tomorrow Show,” of which Ailes was the executive producer. Hinckley had said that he had shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, who starred in the film “Taxi Driver” alongside Robert De Niro. The guests on the March 2 taping, according to Ailes, were Pat Cooper, a comedian; Ralph Salerno, an “expert” on the Mafia; Leo Sayer, a singer; and a previously videotaped segment by columnist Rona Barrett.
The FBI report says, “Ailes stated that Jodie Foster or Robert De Niro have never been guests on the Tomorrow Show. This information was verified by the Program Analysis Department, NBC.”
Ailes was chosen for his role as CEO of Fox News in 1996.
He died last year after falling in his Florida home. He had resigned from Fox News in 2016 following allegations of sexual harassment from multiple women at the network. Ailes had denied all the allegations against him. 21st Century Fox — the parent company of Fox News — settled multiple claims from women who alleged Ailes had harassed them.
Report confirms determination of accidental death of former Putin aide
The FBI released a separate batch of documents Friday relating to the death of a former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mikhail Lesin was found dead in a Washington, D.C., hotel on Nov. 5, 2015. Lesin was the head of the media subsidiary of the Russian natural gas company Gazprom.
The newly released FBI documents confirm earlier reports from local authorities that Lesin’s death was accidental, resulting from blunt force trauma with acute ethanol intoxication being a contributing factor.
An autopsy revealed that Lesin had died from blunt force injuries to the head and also suffered trauma to his neck, torso and extremities. However, in October of 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a statement saying an investigation had determined Lesin was alone when he sustained the injuries and that his death was an accident.