House Weaponization Panel Hears FBI Whistleblowers Amid Democrat Delaying Tactics
House Weaponization Panel Hears FBI Whistleblowers Amid Democrat Delaying Tactics

By Mark Tapscott

Democrats on the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government repeatedly raised parliamentary procedural objections to disrupt the panel’s May 18 hearing on retaliation against three FBI agents-turned-whistleblowers.

At issue for the Democrats was the fact that suspended FBI agent Marcus Allen had talked to Republican members of the subcommittee before the hearing but had declined to do so with Democrats present.

Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wy.) had barely concluded the first opening statement by a regular subcommittee member when Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), the ranking member, complained about not having access to a transcript of Allen’s prior conversation.

“Just as a point of order, we have learned—that Mr. Allen did meet with you and might have testimony that was transcribed. And I understand that he was not comfortable meeting with the Democrats, but he’s comfortable being here today in this open forum,” Plaskett said.

Ranking member Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) delivers opening remarks during the first hearing of the Weaponization of the Federal Government subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Feb. 9, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

When Plaskett asked subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for a copy of Allen’s prior comments, Jordan said, “That will be up to Mr. Allen.”

Jordan acknowledged having a transcript of Allen’s comments, but he said that because Allen is a whistleblower, he had the right to decide who could receive a copy.

His response prompted protest from Plaskett and other Democrats, but the chairman said, “Allen saw what you did to Mr. Friend and others, the false information you gave the press.”

Still, Jordan said, Democrats on the panel were free to ask Allen any question.

But subcommittee Democrats argued that Jordan was obligated under House rules to share the Allen transcript with them before the hearing and repeatedly came back to the issue throughout the hearing, which lasted nearly four hours.

When members returned to the hearing following a 30-minute recess to allow them to vote on the House floor, Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) immediately moved that all materials held by Republican members of the panel be provided to the Democrats.

But the Goldman motion was tabled on a party-line vote for which only five Democrats were present.

A subcommittee spokesman told The Epoch Times: “Democrats leaked the committee’s first subpoenas. Democrats leaked and mischaracterized whistleblower testimony, forcing several news outlets to correct their stories. Democrats issued a report attacking these whistleblowers and disparaging their character. Simply put, whistleblowers are not comfortable speaking to Democrats because of their record of slandering whistleblowers.”

The focus of the hearing was supposed to be on the trio of agents: suspended FBI agent Garrett O’Boyle, former FBI agent Steve Friend, and Allen, who is suspended without pay from his duties as a staff operations specialist.

All three men claimed whistleblower status, which is supposed to provide immunity from illegal retaliation by FBI officials, but all of them said they have suffered significant abuse as a result of sharing information with Congress.

That information included the fact the FBI had created a potential violence tag for pro-life pregnancy centers shortly after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June 2022 that reversed the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the nation. Dobbs returned the authority to decide the issue to the states.

The whistleblowers also told Congress that FBI officials forced agents to record dealings with accused domestic terrorists as if they represented multiple cases rather than individual cases, and they told Congress that the Department of Justice (DOJ) directed surveillance of parents protesting school board policies such as allowing male students who identify as females to use female bathrooms.

FBI Exempted From Whistleblower Obligations

A fourth witness providing testimony was Tristan Leavitt, a former member of the federal civil service’s Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the current president of Empower Oversight, which advocates on behalf of whistleblowers, including Friend and Allen.

Leavitt explained to the subcommittee that whistleblowers in the FBI are not protected against official retaliation—unlike the rest of the 2.1 million federal workers.

“FBI whistleblowers have second-class status compared to those in most federal agencies. When adopted, the modern system of whistleblower protection … prohibited retaliation against FBI whistleblowers, but it gave them none of the processes other federal law enforcement agencies received, including the DEA, AFT, U.S. Marshals, and Secret Service,” Leavitt testified.

“Whistleblowers of those agencies can all file retaliation complaints with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency. But FBI whistleblowers cannot. Whistleblowers at those agencies can all appeal retaliation to the MSPB. Until just last year, FBI whistleblowers could not.”

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 included a provision extending the MSPB appeal right to FBI whistleblowers, but Leavitt said Congress still needs to act to ensure that the right is recognized in all cases. Cases that are not so recognized are forced instead to appeal “through DOJ’s long and extended process,” he said.

“The FBI cannot now claim that these are new rights just because they now have to justify their actions before the MSPB. Time has demonstrated that it was a mistake to exclude the FBI from the standard whistleblower protection process.

“It discourages integrity and encourages deceit and obstruction. Congress should treat the FBI the same as all other federal law enforcement agencies.”

The FBI can retaliate against whistleblowers by suspending them or withdrawing their security clearance, which effectively renders agents unable to do their jobs. That suspension is often followed by employment suspension and withholding of pay.

All three of the witnesses present for the hearing suffered suspension and much more in the way of retaliation.

O’Boyle, who was originally stationed in Kansas City, was promoted to a new position based at the FBI facilities in Quantico, Virginia.

But on his first day on the new job, O’Boyle lost his clearance and was suspended without pay. In addition, all of his family’s belongings, which were being transported by the FBI to his new location, were delayed for weeks before being delivered.

O’Boyle had difficulty holding back tears as he related how he and his family were reduced “to a charity case” as a result of the FBI’s actions.

Family Left Without Clothes

Democrats also questioned the credibility and ethics of the three witnesses, with Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) charging that Friend was engaging in promotion of his new book. “What great timing to be on TV and testifying before Congress right before your book tour starts,” she said.

Wasserman-Schultz also challenged Friend’s criticism of a decision by other FBI managers to use a SWAT team in the arrest of an individual associated with a far-right extremist group.

Two FBI agents died in a gunfight that engulfed the SWAT team when they attempted to arrest the individual.

Friend tried repeatedly to explain that the suspect had indicated a willingness to cooperate with the FBI, but Wasserman-Schultz interrupted him and demanded an abbreviated answer to her question.

Another Florida representative, Republican Greg Steube, pointed out that Friend had arrested more than 150 violent criminals without using a SWAT team and that he had five years of experience working as a member of a SWAT unit.

Steube also said: “The FBI has been turned into the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party, going after pro-life individuals, going after individuals who were not in restricted areas on Jan. 6, who were not violent on Jan. 6, and using SWAT team to go after individuals and intimidate them.

“And then when agents like yourself who have served your country, who have served the FBI, who have served in law enforcement suddenly want to raise concerns and use the whistleblower status to say, ‘Hey, you know this isn’t right, this isn’t the way we should be treating any of these individuals,’ suddenly the FBI is taking you out, taking away your clearances, taking away your pay, shutting you down so that your families can’t even survive financially.”

O’Boyle told the subcommittee, “I am sad, I am disappointed, and I am angry that I have to be here to testify about the weaponization of the FBI and DOJ.

“Weaponization not only against its own employees but against those institutions and individuals that are supposed to protect the American people.

“I am here today because, even though I am wrongfully suspended from my duties, I remain duty bound to the American people to perform my small role in rectifying these small issues.”

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