FBI politicized J6 cases, targeted pro-lifers, whistleblowers tell House panel on weaponization

After the Supreme Court's​​​​​​ decision to return abortion to the states, the FBI prioritized possible threats against the justices from pro-lifers, focusing on "pro-life adherence," FBI whistleblower Garret O'Boyle testified.

Published: March 2, 2023 10:13pm

Updated: March 4, 2023 12:19am

The FBI has politicized cases regarding Jan. 6 defendants and pro-lifers while retaliating against internal whistleblowers, some of those whistleblowers testified last month to the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, according to portions of transcripts reviewed by Just the News.

Retired FBI supervisory intelligence analyst George Hill, who retired last year from the bureau's Boston field office, testified that the Washington Field Office pressured other field offices to investigate citizens for activities protected by the First Amendment. 

Hill's own Boston Field Office, he said, pushed back against pressure from Washington to open cases on, first, seven individuals who came up in a sweep of bank records served up by the Bank of America, and then a larger group of 140 Americans guilty of nothing more than riding buses to D.C. to attend former President Trump's Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6, 2021.

Washington, Hill believes, applied similar pressure on the Philadelphia Field Office. On a nationwide phone call of all 56 FBI field offices, he testified, then-chief of the Domestic Terrorism Operations Center Section Steve Jensen asked the Philadelphia Field Office about the status of a lead on three individuals that had been sent by the Washington Field Office.

The Philadelphia office said the individuals had posted on social media about being pro-Second Amendment and anti-abortion, but that it didn't mean they were "insurrectionists seeking to overturn our democracy," Hill recalled.

Jensen, according to HIll's testimony, responded, "I don't give a blank, they're all bleeping terrorists, and we're going to round them up." 

Former FBI special agent Steve Friend, a former SWAT team member, testified to the panel that after raising concerns about using a SWAT team to arrest a subject of the Jan. 6 investigation, he was ordered off the job for a day.

Friend explained that the Jan. 6 subject was cooperating with the FBI and willing to surrender voluntarily, so he was concerned that the bureau wasn't using the least intrusive methods possible to arrest them.

After speaking with his direct supervisor, he recounted, two assistant special agents in charge of Friend's office met with him and "pushed back on" his concerns, saying that he had a right to raise them, but he also "had to follow through on the orders that I was given to do." 

Friend told the higher-ups he didn't want to participate in executing the warrant, and that if he was assigned to do so he "would have to consider not going" but "would call ahead if that was going to be the case."

He was not allowed to participate in any operations for executing warrants on Jan. 6 subjects after that, Friend testified. In an email from one of the assistant special agents in charge, he claimed, he was "ordered to not come to work the following day" and told that he would "be considered absent without leave." 

The FBI previously gave Just the News a statement regarding Friend. "While we cannot comment on the specifics of personnel matters," the bureau said, "all FBI employees understand they are held to the highest standards because their work is critical to fulfilling our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States.

"Employees who don't carry out their responsibilities are held accountable through an objective administrative process. FBI employees who report evidence of wrongdoing through a protected disclosure are protected from retaliation. Such reporting supports the FBI's mission and is fully consistent with our core values."

Friend previously told Just the News of his concern about the bureau's politicization of the Jan. 6 investigations, alleging the FBI is violating the Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights of Jan. 6 defendants and inflating national statistics for domestic extremism by disaggregating Jan. 6 cases and parceling them out to field offices instead of keeping them in Washington.

FBI whistleblower Garret O'Boyle testified that he was suspended by the bureau in retaliation for making protected disclosures to Congress.

O'Boyle was suspended, he recounted, as his family was preparing to move from Kansas to Virginia for a job transfer within the bureau. Their old home had been sold, and they were waiting to close on their new one.

As part of the transfer, the FBI paid for the moving company to pack and ship the family's belongings to Virginia. After the possessions were shipped, however, O'Boyle was denied access to them for over a month, forcing the O'Boyles to borrow coats and warm clothes for their children from family. Ultimately, he said, he had to pay around $10,000 to retrieve the family's belongings from bureau storage.

"I thought the FBI was being weaponized against agents or anybody who wanted to step forward and talk about malfeasance inside the agency prior to this," O'Boyle testified. "But now, after what has happened to me, I don't think I can ever be convinced that it's anything different than that."

O'Boyle testified that following the Supreme Court's​​​​​​ decision to return abortion to the states in​ Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the FBI prioritized possible threats against the justices from pro-lifers, focusing on "pro-life adherence."

"Why are you focusing on pro-life people?" O'Boyle recalled wondering. "It's prochoice people who are the ones protesting or otherwise threatening violence in front of Supreme Court Justices' houses."

The FBI wanted agents to look into pregnancy centers, he recalled.

"[W]hy would we go and talk to these people about threats when, if somebody is going to be getting threatened, it would be them," he reasoned, "because people thought that abortion was suddenly outlawed, which that wasn't the case either. It was just remanded back to the states."

He was asked to talk to his pro-life informant "about the threats to the Supreme Court," he testified. "I was like, why would this person know about those threats? He's pro-life. Like, he's not the one going and threatening the Supreme Court Justices." 

The FBI responded to O'Boyle's allegations in a statement to Fox News. The FBI's "focus has been and remains on violence and threats of violence," it said. "And we will vigorously pursue investigations of any threat or use of violence committed by someone who uses extremist views to justify their actions, regardless of motivation or what side of an issue that person is on. We do not conduct investigations based on a person's political or social views."

"Any assertion that the FBI manipulates statistics on domestic terrorism cases is categorically false," the FBI later added.

House Judiciary Democrats on Friday criticized the whistleblowers in a 316-page report, claiming they had limited firsthand knowledge of what they testified to and "did not present actual evidence of any wrongdoing at the Department of Justice or the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Committee Chairman Jim Jordan's (R-Ohio) spokesman Russell Dye blasted the minority Democrats for disclosing the content of confidential witness depositions, The Hill reported. "It is beyond disappointing, but sadly not surprising," Dye said in a statement, "that Democrats would leak cherry-picked excerpts of testimony to attack the brave whistleblowers who risked their careers to speak out on abuses at the Justice Department and FBI. These same Democrats vowed to fight our oversight 'tooth and nail,' and they are willing to undermine the work of the Congress to achieve their partisan goals."

The FBI's Washington Field Office and Philadelphia Field Office referred requests for comment on this article to the bureau's national press office.

"The FBI has not and will not retaliate against individuals who make protected whistleblower disclosures," the FBI told Just the News on Friday regarding the allegations of the whistleblowers. "While we cannot comment on the specific claims, the FBI focuses on violence, threats of violence, and other illegal activity regardless of the underlying motivation or what side of an issue a person is on. We do not conduct investigations based on a person's views. The FBI's authority to investigate a case as domestic terrorism requires the existence of a potential federal criminal violation and the unlawful use or threat of force or violence to further political or social objectives. We follow the facts of each case and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity. 

"Additionally, we do not comment on specific personnel matters."

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