Did FBI brass censor agents' report warning of political influence? Congress wants to know

Sen. Chuck Grassley "questions for record" to FBI Director Wray allege agents advisory committee's politicization concerns removed.

Updated: September 21, 2022 - 11:21am

It's commonplace after a congressional hearing for some lawmakers to follow up with additional questions to the witnesses. The practice, known as "questions for the record," usually involves arcane or technical matters and seldom makes news.

But Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, appears to have included a bombshell allegation in a recent QFR he sent FBI Director Christopher Wray after a contentious hearing last month in the Senate.

In question number 16 to Wray, Grassley revealed that his office had received allegations that a special advisory committee made up of FBI agents from the field raised concerns with Wray that politics had infected the bureau's investigative decision-making but those concerns got excised from the final report.

It's an issue Grassley tried to raise at the hearing but got rebuffed.

"At the hearing, I asked you about the FBI's Special Agents Advisory Committee that presents reports and concerns to you," Grassley wrote Wray in an Aug. 11 letter reviewed by Just the News. "The committee consists of FBI agents from all of its Field Offices.

"It's been alleged to me that FBI agents provided information outlining concerns that the FBI has become too politicized in its decision-making. It's been alleged that those concerns were removed from this year's final report."

Grassley did not specify from whom he had received the allegations, but the letter came after his office confirmed it has received complaints from more than a dozen FBI whistleblowers about political manipulation of cases inside America's most famous crime-fighting agency.

"What steps will you take to address the concerns raised by these FBI agents?" Grassley asked the director. "You did not provide a complete answer to me and noted that you would get back to me. So, what are the answers to my questions? Why were those concerns removed from the final report?"

The FBI national press office demurred Tuesday when asked about Grassley's letter. "The FBI declines to comment," the office said in an email to Just the News.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, said Wray had not yet responded to Grassley's nearly six-week-old letter.

The growing perception that the FBI is infected by political bias is driven by, among other things, the discredited Russia collusion probe, the raid on Donald Trump's estate and the treatment of some Jan. 6 defendants. The problem is raising red flags, leading some to suggest it is time for another Church Committee like the one in the 1970s that led to the reform of the bureau after J. Edgar Hoover's era.

But Republicans also believe that if they gain control of Congress in the November midterms, they need to use the power of the appropriations purse to force the FBI to take more aggressive action to address concerns, admitted failures and declining confidence among voters and its own agents.

"It's been clear for many years that politics has invaded our intelligence agencies, ever since the Mueller investigation," Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show Tuesday night. "I was on [House] Judiciary my freshman term, and definitely had a front row seat for the collapse of that investigation under all the lies and false affidavits. And, you know, there needed to be a clearing out of our intelligence agencies at that point.

"Unfortunately, we didn't get that done. Now, it falls to Congress, hopefully under a Republican-led speaker, to initiate those investigations to make sure we figure out the truth and, hopefully, using the power of the purse, hold those accountable who have injected politics into the decision-making and hopefully get that housecleaning that we so desperately need." Cline is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

At least three Republican lawmakers have reported receiving contacts from a total of 20 FBI whistleblowers in recent months, all reporting allegations of political interference, bias and data manipulation inside the bureau.

For instance, Grassley told the John Solomon Reports podcast late last month that whistleblowers have provided evidence that the FBI wrongly opened a probe of Trump on weak evidence from a liberal group while forcing shut an investigation on Hunter Biden when the evidence was solid and that one just-retired FBI leader expressed bias in his social media.

Wray has called those allegations "deeply troubling," and the FBI supervisor in question has retired while vowing through his lawyer to clear his name.

Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) told Just the News that a whistleblower has laid out to Senate staff how a bogus intelligence analysis was created by the FBI during the 2020 election to falsely suggest legitimate evidence against Hunter Biden was disinformation, including his laptop  

And Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, revealed Monday that a whistleblower has alleged to him that the FBI was manipulating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot investigation to create a false "illusion" that America has a nationwide problem with domestic violent extremism to fit a political narrative favored by President Joe Biden.

Kevin Brock, the FBI's former intelligence chief, said Grassley's allegation about the concerns raised by the special agent advisory committee was significant and signaled rank-and-file personnel are concerned about the future of the bureau.

"The Special Agent Advisory Committee was created to bring issues to the attention of the director that are of concern to the street agents working cases in the FBI," Brock told Just the News. "If a certain topic is raised by the committee, that usually means there has been significant interest in that topic expressed among FBI agents.  

"And so, if it turns out that the committee conveyed concern to the director that the FBI is becoming too politicized, then that's likely reflective of what's on the minds of a large number of agents. It's not trivial."

Jeff Danik, a decorated retired FBI agent in Florida, said he hears from colleagues who know the FBI's reputation is tarnished by politicization allegations and bungled probes like the Olympian sex abuse case and are worried the agency is losing public trust.

"How can you be anything other than concerned?" Danik asked. "You have the country pissed off at you. It affects you every day out there on the job."

Relating the story of a recent criminal case in which FBI star witnesses weren't called at trial for fear of provoking backlash, Danik said, "There's no doubt these concerns are affecting everyday operations of the FBI."

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