FBI Says GOP’s Whistleblowers Interfered With, Refused To Participate In Jan. 6 Investigations
WASHINGTON – Two FBI agents Republicans have championed as “whistleblowers” interfered with or refused to participate in investigations related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the FBI told lawmakers this week.
At a hearing on Thursday, Republicans led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) alleged the agents were victims of a broader “weaponization” of the U.S. Justice Department against Catholics, concerned parents, conservatives and former President Donald Trump.
“If you’re one of the good employees of our government to talk about the targeting, you become a target, you face retaliation,” Jordan said at the hearing.
Christopher Dunham, FBI assistant director, told Jordan in a letter that one of the former agents ― Marcus Allen, a staff operations specialist suspended from his job at the FBI’s field office in Charlotte, North Carolina ― tried to convince his FBI colleagues that the Capitol riot had been orchestrated by the government.
Allen also allegedly conducted a shoddy investigation into a Jan. 6 suspect, prompting the FBI to close the case ― only for another agent to turn up publicly available evidence incriminating the suspect.
“Investigative activity established that this subject physically assaulted U.S. Capitol Police officers on January 6, 2021,” Dunham wrote.
“I was retaliated against because I forwarded information to my superiors and others that questioned the official narrative of the events of January 6,” Allen said during the hearing.
Another witness ― former Jacksonville, Florida, FBI special agent Stephen Friend ― has admitted that he refused to participate in any cases related to Jan. 6, partly because he thought some suspects were innocent and that they would face unfair jury pools in Washington, D.C.
Not long after telling his supervisors he wouldn’t help with Capitol riot cases, Dunham wrote, Friend “entered FBI space and downloaded documents from FBI computer systems to an unauthorized removable flash drive” and also “publicly released sensitive FBI information on his personal social media accounts without authorization.”
“My whistleblowing was apolitical and in the spirit of upholding my oath,” Friend said at the hearing.
In both cases, the FBI revoked the agents’ security clearances, which Republicans described as unlawful retaliation against protected whistleblower activity.
“I commend you for standing up for American values, and I commend you for standing up for what you believe are huge grievances that are going on in the FBI,” Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) said. “Based on your testimony, the FBI has turned to the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party.”
Under questioning from Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.), Friend and another former FBI special agent who testified on Thursday, Garrett O’Boyle, both acknowledged receiving payments from Kash Patel, a former Trump administration official. Committee Democrats had previously highlighted their connection to Trump associates, saying it undermined their claims of being apolitical whistleblowers. Friend now works for the Center for Renewing America, a think tank headed by former Trump budget director Russell Vought.
Jordan dismissed a question about the propriety of the witnesses receiving payments from Trump associates before the hearing on Thursday: “How are they supposed to feed their family?”
Trump has made false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election a centerpiece of his campaign to retake the White House, and Republicans on Capitol Hill have continuously attacked the Justice Department for investigating his efforts to prevent Joe Biden from taking office, including by inciting a riot at the Capitol.
After the hearing, the witnesses shook hands with Micki Witthoeft, mother of slain Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt, whom Trump has described as a martyr. Witthoeft has been a constant presence at House hearings and even met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif).
Near the start of the hearing, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) summed it up as “a vehicle to legitimize the events of Jan. 6.”