Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary and senior political advisor, has resigned amid allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to prevent the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Butts denied accusations that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the Montreal engineering giant avoid prosecution on corruption and bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.
Thanks for the notes of encouragement to all who have reached out. @jodilhbutts and I appreciate the love and support. But public institutions are bigger and more important than any of their temporary occupants. Please see my statement. https://t.co/LkybmLiYbG
— Gerald Butts 🇨🇦 (@gmbutts) February 18, 2019
“Any accusation that I or the staff put pressure on the Attorney General is simply not true, Canadians are rightly proud of their public institutions,” the statement continued.
Butts’ resignation comes just days after the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Wilson-Raybould as Veteran’s Affairs Minister. The Opposition has called on Trudeau to waive solicitor-client privilege so she can speak about the case.
Butts adds in the statement that the allegations distract from the “vital work” Trudeau and the PMO are doing.
He states that it’s his responsibility to defend his own reputation and that it’s in the best interests of the government for him to step away.
Butts has acknowledged that Wilson-Raybould briefly raised the SNC-Lavalin case during a conversation with him in December; he says he advised her to speak with the clerk of the Privy Council.