In an explosive House committee hearing on Thursday, several whistleblowers accused the FBI of engaging in a complex series of highly corrupt and partisan activities, including the manipulation of statistics, targeting of political opponents, and retaliating against whistleblowers seeking to expose the agency’s corruption. The revelations come days after a report from U.S. Attorney John Durham revealed the FBI had no evidence then-candidate Donald Trump colluded with the Russians when it launched its Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the former president’s 2016 campaign.
While speaking before the House Judiciary Committee, former FBI special agent Steve Friend said he filed protected whistleblower disclosures in August 2022 over concerns he had regarding investigations assigned to his office over the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. More specifically, Friend was concerned the conduction of these inquiries represented a departure from proper “case management rules established in the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide” and that such actions “could have undermined potentially righteous prosecutions and may have been part of an effort to inflate the FBI’s statistics on domestic extremism.”
“I also voiced concerns that the FBI’s use of SWAT and large-scale arrest operations to apprehend suspects who were accused of nonviolent crimes and misdemeanors, represented by counsel, and who pledged to cooperate with the federal authorities in the event of criminal charges created an unnecessary risk to FBI personnel and public safety,” Friend said. “At each level of my chain of command, leadership cautioned that despite my exemplary work performance, whistleblowing placed my otherwise bright future with the FBI at risk.”
Despite purportedly following proper whistleblower protocol, Friend said the FBI quickly retaliated against him by weaponizing the security clearance process to remove him from active duty “within one month” of filing his disclosures. According to Friend, the agency then orchestrated a “campaign of humiliation and intimidation” designed to “punish and pressure [him] to resign,” which included leaking his private medical information to The New York Times, refusing to “furnish [his] training records for several months,” and imposing an “illegal gag order” to prevent him from “communicating with [his] family and attorneys.”
In addition to retaliation, Friend went on to accuse the FBI of weaponizing process crimes and reinterpreting laws in order to “initiate pretextual prosecutions and persecute its political enemies.” He also asserted the agency actively colludes with Big Tech platforms to censor political speech the regime disagrees with, gather intelligence on Americans, and “target citizens for malicious prosecution.”
During his testimony, Garret O’Boyle, a U.S. Army combat veteran and former FBI special agent, chronicled his own experience with the FBI’s disdain for whistleblowers. At some point after filing a whistleblower disclosure over concerns the agency was being used to go after the regime’s political opponents, O’Boyle sought another position within the country, which the FBI approved of. According to O’Boyle, it was only after he had sold his home and moved his family “halfway across the country” did the FBI then suspend him.
“They allowed us to sell my family’s home. They ordered me to report to the new unit when our youngest daughter was only two weeks old. Then, on my first day on the new assignment, they suspended me; rendering my family homeless and refused to release our household goods, including our clothes, for weeks,” O’Boyle said.
Marcus Allen, a former Marine and FBI staff operations specialist, also testified about his experience with the FBI’s politicization, particularly its attempts to destroy the lives and careers of those within its ranks with dissenting views. As part of his position, Allen was tasked with providing situational awareness and information regarding the Jan. 6 riot. After submitting information to his superiors and others that questioned “the narrative” of Jan. 6, however, Allen was accused of pushing “conspiratorial views” and “unreliable information.” The FBI subsequently suspended Allen in January 2022 and questioned his allegiance to the United States.
According to Allen, it wasn’t until five months later, after a congressional member “made statements indicating the FBI was conducting a purge of employees with conservative viewpoints,” did the FBI reach out seeking an interview. Much like Friend, Allen claims his security clearance was revoked after he filed his whistleblower complaint.
“It has been more than a year since the FBI took my paycheck from me. My family and I have been surviving on early withdrawals from our retirement accounts while the FBI has ignored my request for approval to obtain outside employment during the review of my security clearance,” Allen said. “We have lost our federal health insurance coverage. There is apparently no end in sight.”
Predictably, House Democrats used Thursday’s hearing to slander the whistleblowers to cover for the FBI’s authoritarianism. In one instance, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., attempted to equate Friend’s calls to “defund the FBI” due to its weaponized behavior with support for defunding law enforcement. The Florida Democrat also accused Friend of using Thursday’s hearing to promote his upcoming book — which Friend never mentioned — and attacked the former agent for his concerns over the FBI’s use of excessive force during certain arrests.
In his prior testimony, Friend detailed a case where the FBI planned to use a SWAT team to carry out an arrest warrant on a Jan. 6 “subject.” According to Friend, he was concerned over the use of such tactics because “the subject of the arrest warrant had been in communication with the FBI at that point and had expressed a willingness to cooperate.”
“[I]n my experience in dealing with subjects of crimes and bringing them into custody, the FBI tends to use the least amount of force necessary to do that safely, and I felt that the use of SWAT … was an unnecessary tool to use for that particular individual,” Friend said. Of course, Wasserman Schultz misconstrued Friend’s testimony to make it sound as if he sympathized with the Jan. 6 subject and other suspected criminals upon whom arrest warrants are issued.
A House Judiciary Committee report containing the whistleblowers’ aforementioned allegations and prior testimony can be found here.