FBI docs reveal suspended employee's colleagues were probed on his support for Donald Trump, Covid vaccine views

FBI docs reveal suspended employee's colleagues were probed on his support for Donald Trump, Covid vaccine views
Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt sent a letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz questioning the suspension of a whistleblower over his alleged support for Donald Trump (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC: The FBI has reportedly questioned colleagues of a whistleblower regarding his support for former President Donald Trump and his stance on the Covid-19 vaccine.

Internal documents from the bureau’s Security Division suggest that the whistleblower and several other employees, had their top-secret security clearances revoked following the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

The whistleblower is currently being represented by the non-governmental and nonprofit organization Empower Oversight, according to the New York Post.

On Saturday, June 8, in a letter addressed to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt disclosed that the organization had obtained a list of "pre-printed" questions that colleagues of the whistleblower were presented with.

Whistleblower’s associates were informed they had a 'duty to reply' to the 'pre-printed' questionnaire about him

The Clearance Investigations Unit questionnaire queries whether the whistleblower would ever "vocalize support for President Trump," "vocalize objection to Covid-19 vaccination," "vocalize intent to attend 01/06/2021," or "attended the Richmond Lobby Day event on 1/18/2021."

Some additional questions, including the whistleblower's identity, were redacted.

(Getty Images)
The whistleblower's security clearance was suspended after he took a personal leave to attend Donald Trump's 'Save America' rally (Getty Images)

His colleagues were informed they had a "duty to reply" to each question "fully and truthfully" or "action against your security clearance may be undertaken and you may be referred to Inspection Division for possible disciplinary action."

They subsequently described the whistleblower as fostering "right-wing views" or "strong Republican values" that were "nothing extreme" — but had "never implied [he] would do anything physical" or promoted "violence."

Background on the whistleblower

The whistleblower in question, who had served in the bureau for a span of 12 years and received cash awards and high-performance evaluations, underwent a suspension of security clearance and was placed on unpaid leave in March 2022 during an internal investigation.

He had taken personal leave to participate in the "Save America" rally on January 6, 2021, and disclosed this information to an FBI security official himself.

It is pertinent to note that the individual did not enter the Capitol grounds, offered to undergo a polygraph test to substantiate this claim, and was informed by an examiner from the inspector general's office during the investigation that there was "no deception" in his answer, as per Leavitt’s letter.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with Pres
The whistleblower has made it clear that he did not enter the Capitol grounds during the January 6 insurrection (Getty Images)

Following the suspension of clearance, the whistleblower made protected disclosures to the House Judiciary Committee, alleging politicization and abuse of the security process by the FBI.

Subsequently, FBI Executive Assistant Director Jennifer Leigh Moore revoked the individual's clearance in April 2023 after the investigation.

At present, the individual has retired from the bureau; however, Empower Oversight is actively appealing the decision due to its potential impact on his future employment prospects.

"The documents appear to demonstrate [the Security Division]’s political bias and abuse of the security clearance process to purge the FBI of employees who expressed disfavored political views or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement," Leavitt informed Horowitz.

He alleged, "Instead of limiting its investigation to legitimate issues, [the Security Division] acted as if support for President Trump, objecting to COVID-19 vaccinations, or lawfully attending a protest was the equivalent of being a member of Al Qaeda or the Chinese Communist Party."

Leavitt pointed out that precedent from the US Supreme Court contends that terminating federal employees for even "treasonable or seditious utterances or acts" is against the First Amendment, noting, "Revoking a security clearance for being near those who did or merely sharing some similar political views as others who acted unlawfully is pure guilt by association."

The Empower Oversight president went on to say that internal bureau documents made it "reasonable" to presume that this pattern of free speech suppression has been used "in many other cases in an effort to purge employees with disfavored views from the FBI."

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: law enforcement officers walk out of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building o
FBI was found to have inappropriately taken retaliatory measures against whistleblowers whose security clearances were suspended (Getty Images)

In a June 21, 2023, letter to the DOJ Inspector General's office, FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate stated, "Anyone who questions the FBI's response or his decisions regarding the response to January 6th did not belong in the FBI and should find a different job."

Leavitt has made a request for Horowitz's office to conduct an independent investigation regarding "the scope of these abuses" and to find out the individuals accountable.

His letter comes after a DOJ OIG inquiry in May, which found that the bureau had inappropriately taken retaliatory measures against whistleblowers whose security clearances were suspended.

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