New Yorker Writer Responds to Rep. Grimm

grimm illo New Yorker Writer Responds to Rep. GrimmNew Yorker writer Evan Ratliff defends his story about Rep. Michael Grimm, after the congressman gave his account to the Staten Island Advance editorial board.

Grimm also made some puzzling new assertions to the Advance. He said that Williams “instituted a lawsuit claiming damages of a million dollars.” The amount claimed, according to court documents (below), was $25,000. Grimm further said that he would not have suggested that “all the white people” could leave, because “to the best of my recollection … I was the only white person there.” I interviewed an employee of the club who is white and is quoted in the story, saying that Grimm specifically told him and other employees to leave.

In the Advance article Grimm also says that Williams was “on the hot seat” for moonlighting at the club and for not calling 911 when Grimm asked him to. The first part is true, as detailed in “The Mark.” Williams was later suspended for working off-duty at Caribbean Tropics without permission, a fact I learned from Williams himself. The second part may be true, too. But Williams does point out that he was never prosecuted or disciplined for failing to assist another law-enforcement officer or interfering with an F.B.I. investigation. “I wasn’t arrested,” Williams told me Tuesday. “I had no criminal charge against me. I retired in good standing.” Of Grimm’s response, he said, “he’s lying.”

And this gem:

There is one assertion of Congressman Grimm’s that I can confirm outright: I was, as he says, working on the story “for over a year.” I first heard about the main case described in the article, against a lawyer named Albert Santoro, in 2006, and began reporting in earnest at the beginning of 2010. In fourteen months I pored over thousands of pages of court documents, interviewed well over a hundred people, and obtained audiotapes of then-agent Grimm discussing both the Santoro case and other matters. But my original story pitch to editors at The New Yorker in January of 2010 contains no mention of Michael Grimm. At the time, I’d never heard of him.