Al Sharpton On His FBI Ties: I'm No 'Rat' -- 'I'm A Cat'

The Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday sought to downplay claims he was an FBI informant in the 1980s, one day after the Smoking Gun website published a lengthy investigation into his work with the bureau.

“I did what was right,” Sharpton said at a press conference at the National Action Network headquarters in New York City on Tuesday. “I’m not a mobster. I’m a preacher.”

Sharpton woke up to newspaper front pages labelling him a “rat” and a “snitch.” The Smoking Gun’s report was based on hundreds of pages of secret court filings and FBI memos, which provided new details into Sharpton’s role as “Confidential Informant 7.” The report said he used a wire to record conversations and helped federal investigators gather information on the infamous Genovese crime family.

Sharpton disputed the notion being an “informant” is a bad thing.

“I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn’t with the rats. I’m a cat. I chased rats,” Sharpton said.

He added, “I think it was very interesting that many of us are condemned for not fighting crime — and now we’re condemned for fighting crime. It is interesting to me, as we deal with the whole criminalization of many in our community, that the premise of a lot of this media is that I should have been with the mob rather than with the government.”

Sharpton said he only went to the feds after he was threatened by members of the mob, a story he said he told in his 1996 book, “Go and Tell Pharaoh.” He said he would do it all again.

“I would record them today,” Sharpton said. “They were threatening to kill me!”

The Smoking Gun’s report came as both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Barack Obama are scheduled to deliver remarks at the National Action Network’s annual conference in New York this week.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.