The State Department is responding to claims that officials may have covered up alleged illegal and inappropriate behavior by department personnel, while an ambassador is accused of "routinely" soliciting sexual favors. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.
A U.S. ambassador who allegedly became the target of an internal State Department investigation after being accused of prostitution and pedophilia denied any misconduct in a statement.
“I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press,” the ambassador said, adding that to see his time in the country where he served “smeared is devastating.”
The ambassador, who has not been charged or convicted of a crime, is not being identified by NBC News.
The ambassador wrote that he lives “on a beautiful park” in the country “that you walk through to get to many locations and at no point have I ever engaged in any improper activity.”
The ambassador who came under investigation “routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to documents obtained by NBC News.
The alleged misconduct took place during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure, according to the documents, which also say those activities may not have been properly looked into.
Top state department officials directed investigators to “cease the investigation” into the ambassador’s conduct, according to the memo.
A state department spokesperson would not confirm the specific investigations, but told NBC News “the notion that we would not vigorously pursue criminal misconduct in a case, in any case, is preposterous.”
Former State Department investigator Aurelia Fedenisn has said that investigators dropped the ball in the case, and that a final report published in March of this year was “watered down,” according to her attorney.
“She felt it was important that Congress get this information,” Fedenisn’s lawyer Cary Schulman told NBC News.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the department “would never condone” improper influence on its investigators. “Any case we would take seriously and we would investigate, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
A senior State Department official also disputed the notion that any investigations had been squashed, saying: "You know there's a lot of conflated information on cases occasionally. I can tell you that not everybody walking in Central Park is out there looking for prostitutes or hook ups."
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce meanwhile said that he would ask his staff to look into the allege misconduct.
"I am appalled not only at the reported misconduct itself, but at the reported interference in the investigations of the misconduct," Royce said. "The notion that any or all of the cases contained in news reports would not be investigated thoroughly by the department is unthinkable."
NBC News’ Chuck Todd, Shawna Thomas, Catherine Chomiak, Natalie Cucchiara, and John Bailey contributed to this report.