MILWAUKEE -- Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he is making the media "taste their own blood" after it was revealed that Clarke had been under the FBI's scrutiny early last year.
The bureau was investigating Milwaukee resident Dan Black's complaint that then-Sheriff Clarke had deputies interrogate him for shaking his head at Clarke aboard a Milwaukee-bound plane in January 2017.
On March 7th, FBI Special Agent Jennifer Walkowski applied to search Clarke's Gmail account, saying there was evidence of a crime. A judge approved the warrant, and the FBI carried out the search the next day.
On May 3rd, the U.S. Attorney's office decided not to pursue criminal charges against Clarke, saying it would be difficult to prove the then-sheriff had broken federal civil rights laws.
The application for a search warrant was sealed until December 28th, when it became available online. Clarke criticized the subsequent news reports about the document.
"When LYING LIB MEDIA makes up FAKE NEWS to smear me, the ANTIDOTE is go right at them. Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD," Clarke wrote in one of 16 weekend tweets.
Clarke is no longer under criminal investigation, though the FBI said in its search warrant application that it had probable cause to believe Clarke had violated federal law.
In his May 3rd letter, U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad did not detail what evidence -- or lake thereof -- led him not to pursue charges.
"Our decision is not meant to affirm the wisdom or propriety of what occurred," Haanstad wrote. "It reflects only our belief that it would be difficult or impossible to prove a violation."
The FBI's search warrant application, for the first time, sheds light on how Clarke initially wanted to respond to the January 15th, 2017 incident.
On January 17th, the sheriff ordered a subordinate to write a Facebook post about Black that read, "Sheriff has taken this (expletive's) complaint under advisement and summarily determined that he can go to hell."
The subordinate responded that the sentence could not be posted to Facebook.
According to the FBI document, Clarke responded, "Can't? Is there a computer problem?"
The post that was ultimately published on the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office Facebook page did include this comment from Clarke: "Next time he (Black) or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out."
The former sheriff left his county job in August to become an advisor for a super PAC that supports President Donald Trump.
During his series of weekend tweets, Clarke posted that someone had complained to Twitter about his "taste their own blood" tweet and that the social media site had decided to take no action.
"You come at me libs you better bring a hard hat, some aspirin and your veggie wrap because it's going to be a long day and I'm going to smack you around until you crawl back to your mom's basement," Clarke tweeted.
Black's lawsuit against Clarke is still pending. Black's lawyer, William Sulton, said he expects the case to go to trial later in January.