The tabloid favorite amongst the brewing new State Department investigations isn't the alleged Baghdad drug-ring cover-up, or the alleged Honduras killings cover-up, or even the alleged cover-up of Hillary Clinton's security detail for an "endemic" solicitation of prostitutes. No, the sexiest of the Foggy Bottom probes — all of which State officials are trying to explain away — has to do with the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, who "routinely ditched" his own bodyguards to "solicit sexual favors" himself, including from minors. And now Mr. Ambassador is calling his prostitution allegations "baseless" because... he lives in "a beautiful park in Brussels."
Indeed, after CBS News' John Miller uncovered an October memo (and subsequent watered down drafts from the Inspector General's office) detailing the multiple State investigations on Monday, Ambassador Howard Gutman was outed by the New York Post a day later, forcing not only the White House and one of his State bosses to speak out, but forcing Gutman, who is married and has been in his post for four years, to issue this strange denial (emphasis ours):
I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press and to watch the four years I have proudly served in Belgium smeared is devastating. I live on a beautiful park in Brussels that you walk through to get to many locations and at no point have I ever engaged in any improper activity.
Gutman probably could have stopped after the first sentence of his statement. His neighborhood park is Brussels's Parc Royal/ Warandepark, where some of the alleged solicitations and ditching of security took place, as the New York Daily News reported. He isn't exactly wrong about it being nice, either — the royal park is bordered by the BOZAR musem and Parliament:
Picturesque as the digs may be, according to a local report from 2010, the park is rumored to be a site of frequent homosexual and underage prostitution. And in 2009, RTL reported on prostitution arrests involving young boys and a policeman.
The Undersecretary of State for Management at the State Department, Patrick Kennedy, recently met with Gutman, CBS reports, but the ambassador was allowed to stay in his post. "In my current position, it is my responsibility to make sure the Department and all of our employees-no matter their rank-are held to the highest standard, and I have never once interfered, nor would I condone interfering, in any investigation," Kennedy said in a statement on Tuesday. Of the broader investigation leaks, an unnamed official at State got in touch with ABC News and "insisted that the investigations were not called off for political reasons. Instead, the official claimed, full investigations were done and in many cases there was insufficient evidence to warrant prosecutions or in-house discipline."
No charges were brought against Gutman or anyone else in the cases detailed in the memo. But if the investigations were indeed called off to avoid political embarrassment, that strategy has failed. Because nobody's stopping the tabloids and the Benghazi stalkers from having a field day with this one.