Three FBI whistleblowers and a former Biden official testified before the House Weaponization Committee Thursday morning to discuss multiple abuses of power by Bureau leadership, including whistleblower retaliation, the purging of conservatives, security clearance suspensions, and the inflation of domestic terrorism statistics.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and head of the select committee, scheduled the hearing “to examine abuses seen at the Bureau and how the FBI has retaliated against whistleblowers.”
Tristan Leavitt, who served in the Biden administration as a member of the United States Merit Systems Protection Board from March 4, 2022 to February 28, 2023, blasted Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government over their “shameful” attempts to smear the FBI whistleblowers.
“Instead of welcoming or at least protecting such disclosures, FBI employees who have come forward to Congress have been shamefully treated by the Ranking Members and Minority staff of this Committee,” said Tristan Leavitt, President of Empower Empower Oversight, in his opening statement. Leavitt served in the Biden administration as a member of the United States Merit Systems Protection Board from March 4, 2022 to February 28, 2023.
Leavitt testified that Democrat lawmakers on the committee have made inaccurate assertions in their attempts to smear and discredit the whistleblowers.
“It’s one thing to hear allegations and not find them particularly persuasive or relevant to a particular inquiry. If an office even wants to ignore allegations, as the Minority staff appeared to have done for several months up until transcribed interviews with these witnesses were scheduled with the Committee, that’s their prerogative,” Leavitt said.
But it’s another thing altogether to actively go out and smear the individuals disclosing those allegations. That’s exactly what the Ranking Members and Minority staff of this Committee did when they released a March 2 report entitled “GOP Witnesses: What Their Disclosures Indicate About the State of the Republican Investigations.
In the foreword of the report, Ranking Member Nadler and Ranking Member Plaskett wrote: ‘[T]he three individuals we have met are not, in fact, whistleblowers. These individuals . . . did not present actual evidence of any wrongdoing at the Department of Justice or the [FBI].’
Similarly, in the body of the report, they alleged: ‘[N]one of the witnesses have provided evidence related to a violation of law, policy, or abuse of authority. None are ‘whistleblowers’ in any sense recognized by federal law or any federal agency.’
“These assertions were conceptually inaccurate, both on the law and on the facts,” Leavitt declared. “The law doesn’t define the term whistleblower.”
Tristan Leavitt nails it on the definition of a whistleblower. pic.twitter.com/KVPO4Z5LPR
— SweetPeaBelle (@SweetPeaBell326) May 18, 2023
Two suspended FBI special agents, Garret O’Boyle, Steve Friend, and suspended FBI State Operations Specialist Marcus Allen also testified before the committee, Thursday.
In his opening statement, Friend testified that in August of 22, he made protected whistleblower disclosures to his Assistant Special Agents in Charge, and Special Agent in Charge regarding his concerns about the January 6th investigations assigned to his office.
Friend served in the FBI as a special agent for eight and a half years, and five more years on an FBI SWAT Team. As a special agent, Friend said he investigated approximately 200 violent crimes, such as aggravated assaults, murder, child abuse, rape, robbery, child molestation, child pornography, and human trafficking. He also spent five years as a local law enforcement officer in Georgia.
“I believed our departures from case management rules established in the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide could have undermined potentially righteous prosecutions and may have been part of an effort to inflate the FBI’s statistics on domestic extremism,” said Friend. “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.”
The former G-man testified that at each level of his chain of command, “leadership cautioned that despite my exemplary work performance, whistleblowing placed my otherwise bright future with the FBI at risk.”
The whistleblower pointed out that he had to take an oath to protect the US Constitution and was required to attend trainings at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and MLK Memorial learn about the dangers of federal law enforcement overreach.
“Nevertheless, the FBI weaponized the security clearance processes to facilitate my removal from active duty within one month of my disclosures,” he testified, noting that his suspension was indefinite and unpaid.
The FBI then “initiated a campaign of humiliation and intimidation to punish and pressure me to resign,” Friend said.
In violation of HIPPA, individuals at the FBI leaked my private medical information to a reporter at the New York Times. In violation of the Privacy Act, the FBI refused to furnish my training records for several months. To date, they only provided a portion of the records, which are essential to obtaining private investigator and firearms licenses in the state of Florida. Even after releasing some of the records, the FBI refuses to confirm their legitimacy to the Florida Department of Agriculture, rendering the few documents they have provided practically useless. The FBI denied my request to seek outside employment, in an obvious attempt to deprive me of the ability to support my family. Finally, the FBI Inspection Division imposed an illegal gag order in an attempt to prevent me from communicating with my family and attorneys.
Steve Friend was a distinguished FBI agent. The FBI retaliated against him after he exposed how the Bureau was cooking the books on domestic violent extremism cases. pic.twitter.com/X1JpMYDkBq
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) May 18, 2023
O’Boyle, a former police officer and decorated Army veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, also described how the FBI retaliated against him and his family after he made protected disclosures about the FBI “snitch line” targeting parents who protested at school board meetings.
“In weaponized fashion, the FBI allowed me to accept orders to a new position halfway across the country. 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 testified in his opening statement.
The former agent added: “All I wanted to do was serve my country by stopping bad guys and protecting the innocent. To my chagrin, bad guys have begun running parts of the government making it difficult to continue to serve this Nation and protect the innocent.”
FBI Special Agent Garret O'Boyle was transferred across the country only to be suspended on his first day.
The FBI’s actions forced his family to beg and borrow warm coats for their children because the family’s belongings were locked in an FBI-controlled storage facility. pic.twitter.com/T7BseKr0cf
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) May 18, 2023
Marcus Allen, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq, told the committee that he has been suspended without pay for more than a year, after he forwarded information to his superiors and others that “questioned the official narrative of the events of January 6.”
“During my deployments, I was exposed to live enemy fire on numerous occasions, even though I served primarily in analytical and intelligence roles,” Allen testified in his opening statement.
I was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. I eventually joined the FBI and was employee of the year in 2019 in the Charlotte Field office. As the holder of a Top Secret security clearance since 2001, I have been trusted with the nation’s greatest secrets. So why am I here today? Despite my history of unblemished service to the United States, the FBI suspended my security clearance, accusing me of actually being DISLOYAL to my country!
This outrageous and insulting accusation is based on unsubstantiated accusations that I hold “conspiratorial views” regarding the events of January 6, 2021 and that I allegedly sympathize with criminal conduct. I do not. I was not in Washington DC on January 6, played no part in the events of January 6, and I condemn all criminal activity that occurred.
Allen testified that because he questioned the official January 6 narrative, he was accused of promoting “conspiratorial views” and “unreliable information.” Since his suspension in January of 2022, Allen said “there has been a dearth of communication from the FBI, with interactions seemingly only being forced by actions from my counsel or members of congress.”
Allen said he has filed a federal a civil rights lawsuit, which is pending, “to recover my livelihood and restore my good name.” After filing the complaint, Allen said the FBI informed him that his clearance had been formally revoked.
Marcus Allen bravely served our country overseas in the armed services and has been suspended without pay for OVER a year by the FBI for "disloyalty."
Listen to his powerful testimony ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/5fR0VTk5zb
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) May 18, 2023
According to Leavitt, a “troubling pattern” has emerged of the FBI suspending security clearances as a means of whistleblower retaliation.
The Bureau, he explained, gets around government directives prohibiting this type of retaliation “by leaving the whistleblower in the limbo of suspension without ever getting around
to adjudicating and revoking the clearance.”
Title 50 is interpreted to apply to clearance suspensions, but only after a year without an adjudication. Meanwhile, when the FBI suspends a clearance it also immediately suspends the employee indefinitely without pay. To make matters worse, even though the FBI is not paying the employee, it requires them to obtain permission from the FBI to take another job—permission the FBI routinely denies. Congress should closely examine this issue to stop this sort of abuse.
You can watch the ongoing hearing in the live streaming video below: