Jim Jordan asks DOJ watchdog to investigate whether FBI 'purging' agents with conservative views

Jordan request comes days after Just the News reported an FBI security clearance review asked whether an employee vocalized support for Donald Trump, attended a 2nd Amendment rally or expressed vaccine skepticism.

Published: June 20, 2024 12:42pm

Updated: June 20, 2024 6:18pm

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan on Thursday asked the Justice Department's chief watchdog to open an investigation into whether the FBI has been using political litmus tests to push out agents or workers with conservative political views and sent a stark warning to Director Christopher Wray.

"The FBI appears to be purging itself of employees who do not share its preferred political views," Jordan wrote in a letter to Wray after sending a separate letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz seeking the inquiry.

You can read the letters here:

Jordan's letters came just days after Just the News reported that documents from an FBI security clearance review had asked whether an employee vocalized support for Donald Trump, attended a 2nd Amendment rally or expressed vaccine skepticism. 

"Particularly when they're asking about fundamental liberties, your constitutional rights, I mean, that is that is frightening stuff," Jordan told the "John Solomon Reports" podcast Thursday. "And then you couple that with the retaliation, so they're asking these questions that determine whether you get a security clearance and then, if we have a whistleblower who comes forward, and tells us" then they "get retaliated against," he continued. 

"So you put all that together, and you talk about politics, driving, what happens there," he added. 

The chairman, who has been running an investigation into the alleged political weaponization of law enforcement, told Inspector General Horowitz that the FBI targeting of a "colleague’s political beliefs and protected First Amendment activities" was deeply concerning and appeared to have nothing to do with evaluating risks.

"These actions only serve to further erode the dwindling public trust in the FBI and reinforce the Committee and Select Subcommittee’s concerns about political bias within the FBI," he wrote.

Jordan also cited a separate piece of evidence uncovered by the conservative Judicial Watch group that he said smacked of political retaliation against FBI whistleblowers who were assisting Congress.

"Documents appear to show how an FBI official disclosed nonpublic information about FBI whistleblowers to a Democrat Member of the Select Subcommittee in advance of a Select Subcommittee hearing at which the whistleblowers were scheduled to testify publicly about FBI misconduct," he wrote to Horowitz.

"It appears from the documents that the FBI sought to selectively disclose this nonpublic information so that it would be used to impugn the credibility of the whistleblowers," he added.

In his separate letter to Wray, Jordan said there appeared to be no security clearance purpose for asking about an employee's political viewpoints.

"While the FBI may have a legitimate reason to determine whether its employees commit or advocate for illegal acts, the questions included in the interview outline are 'completely irrelevant to any legitimate security risk determination,' and relying on information produced in response to such questions to revoke the former employee’s security clearance 'obviously violates the First Amendment,'" he wrote.

Just the News reported June 10 that internal FBI memos showed bureau officials conducting a top-secret security clearance review for a longtime employee asked witnesses whether that employee was known to support Trump, if he had expressed concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine or had attended a Second Amendment rally.

"It's good to see Congress holding the FBI's feet to the fire. Both Congress and the inspector general need to get to the bottom of how these kinds of questions were used to purge conservative employees like our clients from the FBI for suspending their security clearances," Tristan Leavitt, the FBI employee's lawyer, told Just the News Thursday. 

The employee’s clearance was revoked months after the interviews, which confirmed his support for Trump and gun rights and his concerns about the COVID vaccine, according to the documents.

The memos show that agents for the FBI’s Security Division asked at least three witnesses in spring 2022 whether the employee, whose name and job title was redacted from the memos, had been known to “vocalize support for President Trump” or “vocalize objections to Covid-19 vaccination.” Agents ascertained from at least one witness that the worker, in fact, had declined to get the coronavirus inoculation.

The latter questions about the vaccine were asked in spring 2022, a few months after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down vaccine mandates in corporate workplaces and a separate federal court had issued an injunction on federal employee vaccine mandates. 

The agents also asked witnesses whether the FBI worker had “attended the Richmond Lobby Day event” in January 2021, a rally for supporters of the Second Amendment in Virginia. The agents’ notes referred to the colleague they were vetting as a “gun nut” but who in engaged in “no promotion of violence.”

"I'm sure we'll get some distraction and noise from Chris Wray and a reaffirmation that the FBI never does anything wrong, even when it's caught red handed," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton predicted on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. 

You can read the memos here:

FBI officials declined comment about why a worker’s support for Trump and the Second Amendment or his hesitancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine had relevance to his security clearance.

They also declined to answer whether similar questions about support for Joe Biden or other medical issues, such as a woman's support for abortion.

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