(Headline USA) A group of Republican senators accused the Justice Department this week of retaliating against FBI whistleblowers who have accused the agency of political bias and wrongdoing and demanded that Attorney General Merrick Garland lift their suspensions.
Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Garland on Monday accusing DOJ and FBI officials of wrongly punishing an FBI agent who raised concerns about the way the FBI has handled investigations into Jan. 6 rioters.
The whistleblower, Stephen Friend, accused FBI leadership of directing resources away from national human trafficking cases toward Jan. 6 cases in order to intentionally inflate the number of domestic terrorism cases.
“Instead of hundreds of investigations stemming from an isolated incident at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, FBI and DOJ officials point to significant increases in domestic violent extremism and terrorism around the United States,” Friend said.
In his whistleblower declaration, he noted he had been suspended by the FBI for making his concerns about the investigations known.
“Ultimately, rather than reassigning Special Agent Friend other tasks as he requested, FBI leadership apparently made the choice to retaliate against and make an example of him,” Grassley and Johnson wrote on Monday.
“FBI leadership suspended Special Agent Friend without pay, and suspended his security clearance without providing any evidence that he poses a legitimate security risk. They also confiscated his credentials, firearm, and badge, and escorted him out of the FBI field office.”
The senators argued the FBI’s retaliation against Friend is “unacceptable” and sends “exactly the wrong message.”
“The FBI should never suspend security clearances as a form of punishment or to retaliate against patriotic whistleblowers for stepping forward to report potential wrongdoing,” they wrote.
“The FBI should immediately cease the disciplinary actions it is actively taking to punish Special Agent Friend for his protected whistleblowing activity,” the senators continued.
“These unwarranted actions only serve to chill other employees from reporting wrongdoing, and demonstrate a complete and utter failure by agency leaders to obey the letter and intent of federal whistleblower protection laws.”