SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge scolded the FBI on Wednesday for filing a late and incomplete report about whether it pressured a witness not to testify in a lawsuit claiming the agency failed to search its files for additional videos of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
But U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said during a hearing that he wants to know more before deciding whether the FBI engaged in witness tampering.
"It's too important of an issue to leave with ambiguities," he said.
The FBI's office of inspections disclosed the report last Friday, a day after Waddoups threatened the FBI with contempt for not finishing the tampering investigation as he had ordered.
"This illustrates why the FBI cannot be trusted to investigate itself," Jesse Trentadue said.
Trentadue asked Waddoups to appoint a special master to oversee an investigation into the tampering allegations. Waddoups suggested U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead and asked attorneys for both sides to file briefs on the issue.
U.S. Department of Justice attorney Kathryn Wyer objected to the decision, arguing the agency found that no tampering occurred.
Trentadue believes there are videos showing Timothy McVeigh was not alone in detonating the bomb that killed 168 people at the federal building in Oklahoma City.
He thinks the presence of a second suspect explains why his brother, who resembled a police sketch of a suspect, was flown to Oklahoma after the bombing.
Kenneth Trentadue, a convicted bank robber, was picked up for probation violations while coming back to the U.S. at the Mexican border, and he died in a federal holding cell. His death was labeled a suicide, but his body had 41 wounds and bruises that his brother believes were the result of a beating.
Wyer said there is no evidence that the FBI threatened the witness, former government operative John Matthews. He decided on his own not testify because he didn't trust Jesse Trentadue and felt like he was being used, she said.
Matthews, she said, has nothing to do with the case.
Jesse Trentadue contends Matthews told the FBI that he saw McVeigh and another man at a militia training camp in Texas before the bombing and the agency told him it knew and to "basically stand down."
"There's no doubt in my mind, and it's proven beyond any doubt, that the FBI knew that the bombing was going to take place months before it happened, and they didn't stop it," he said after the hearing.
Jesse Trentadue said FBI doesn't want to find the video tapes he has sought since 2008 because they would show someone else was with McVeigh in the truck carrying explosives.
Wyer called Jesse Trentadue's claims "ridiculous" and pure speculation.
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