Published August 28, 2014
“I can say categorically that his investigation indicates that no one on the White House staff, no one in this administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident. What really hurts in matters of this sort is not the fact that they occur, because overzealous people in campaigns do things that are wrong. What really hurts is if you try to cover it up.” – Richard Nixon, at the start of the Watergate scandal.
On August 26, Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson sent Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir a third letter regarding police investigations of her Ministry, in the case of the Tony Omos memo, which has already resulted in charges filed against one of her assistants, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson. The remarkable thing about this letter is its partial transcription of a recorded interview the Ombudsman had with former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson.
Amongst the details that came to light was that Hanna Birna had repeatedly questioned nearly every step of the investigations; in particular, she questioned the scope, which included an assistant’s computer and telephone records. Stefán quoting her as saying, “We will of course let you have everything. You will have access to all of it, but aren’t you going too far in all this?” Hanna Birna also questioned the speed of the investigations.
This, she would tell a live TV audience, was a completely natural and not at all intrusive interaction with the head of the police under her employ, who were tasked with investigating her ministry.
The Interior Minister also reportedly told Stefán that when all was said and done, that “it was completely clear in her mind that there would need to be an investigation of the investigations from the police and the State Prosecutor.”
This, she would also tell a live TV audience, was just her speaking in generalities – that she’d intended to do some overall review of all kinds of offices.
For a sidebar of completely not interfering with a police investigation, her assistants tried to get Stefán to issue a press statement denying the details of news coverage of the case. Stefán refused, saying that he does not issue press statements, but that “I am in the phone book, and my phone is open” to members of the press to contact him.
To all of this, Hanna Birna has categorically written it off as the Ombudsman “set[ting] up an unnatural picture of our natural communications and cooperation.”
Throughout these meetings and phone calls, she was also telling parliament that she was nowhere near the investigations, and was not aware of how they were being conducted. “It would be unnatural if I knew about any part of this investigation,” she told parliament on June 18.
Another thing she would also tell a live TV audience was that she never received the Tony Omos memo from the Ministry Registrar in her email. In fact, police investigations revealed in a Reykjavík District Court ruling last April that she did receive the memo in question.
Hanna Birna says the matter has made her question whether politics holds a future for her. In the meantime, Tony Omos does not have the luxury of getting to decide whether he stays or goes.