Top FBI official made 'chilling' threat to agents questioning Jan. 6 cases, whistleblower claims
"I have witnessed hundreds of Director SVTCs and have never seen a direct threat like that any other time," the whistleblower asserted.
A top official with the FBI has filed a protected disclosure to the Office of the Inspector General alleging that FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate told the bureau's internal critics of its Jan. 6-related cases to seek employment elsewhere and offered to personally address his subordinates' agents concerns.
In a sworn affidavit, the 15-year veteran FBI special agent alleges that, during a routine meeting in February 2021, the deputy director addressed internal concerns that the bureau had not taken the same approach to its investigations into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot as it did with the 2020 riots and protests related to the death of George Floyd.
"He had heard that some employees were contrasting the response to January 6th with the response to the post-George Floyd protests and riots in the summer of 2020," the whistleblower alleges. "DD [Deputy Director] Abbate told the audience that 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 - or something to that effect."
Abbate reportedly went on to insist that the bureau's responses to both matters had been consistent and that it was conducting itself properly.
He then, however, "challenged all Special Agents in Charge ('SACs') that if they had an employee that did not agree, the SACs could have that employee call DD Abbate personally and he would set them straight," the affidavit continues.
Abbate allegedly made the statement during a routine Secure Video Teleconference (SVTC), the bureau's weekly Wednesday meeting in which the FBI director addresses all of the bureau's divisions. The field office heads, foreign legal attaches, and headquarters divisions typically attend that event, the affidavit states.
"I have witnessed hundreds of Director SVTCs and have never seen a direct threat like that any other time," the whistleblower asserted. "It was chilling and personal, communicating clearly that there would be consequences for anyone that questioned his direction."
The FBI provided the following statement to Just the News:
"Throughout his 27-plus year career, FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate has strongly supported the people and the work of the FBI, treating employees with dignity, compassion, and respect. He continues to proudly serve the American people and the FBI as Deputy Director. Deputy Director Abbate is going nowhere and any suggestion otherwise is baseless."
Empower Oversight, a whistleblower advocacy group, wrote to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday, asking him to "independently corroborate" the whistleblower's allegations. Empower is currently representing other FBI whistleblowers who have alleged political bias within the bureau and acts of retaliation against whistleblowers. Empower stressed that the affiant "does not know and is not associated" with its other clients.
One of Empower's clients, Special Agent Stephen Friend had raised concerns about the bureau's alleged manipulation of crime statistics, its treatment of Jan. 6 defendants, and its use of SWAT teams. He further claims that the FBI suspended him for raising concerns about those matters.
The organization further wrote to key congressional leaders, asking that they look into the claims and hold Abbate accountable.
"FBI executives routinely retaliate against employees for expressing concerns about the FBI and the Department of Justice. If they belonged to any other federal law enforcement agency, they would have more effective remedies for these prohibited personnel practices," Empower President Tristan Leavitt wrote. "But at the FBI, legally protected disclosures are not protected in practice. The vast majority of FBI employees don’t have the same civil service protections as other federal employees to obtain review of disciplinary actions taken against them."
"The FBI is not a private club for FBI executives to make in their own image," he continued. "It is an extremely important agency that is supposed to enforce the law without prejudice. Empower Oversight respectfully requests that you work swiftly to independently corroborate this information with other witnesses, publicly document your findings, and hold Deputy Director Abbate accountable."
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.