FBI Suspends Employee’s Clearance After Probing Trump Support, COVID-19 Views

FBI Suspends Employee's Clearance After Probing Trump Support, COVID-19 Views

The FBI revoked the security clearance of an employee after asking colleagues questions–under threat of discipline–about his support for former President Donald Trump and views on the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a complaint to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog. 

The employee attended the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington before it turned into a riot, and reported his presence to the FBI the next day, according to the whistleblower advocacy group Empower Oversight, which issued a complaint to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on June 8, in a letter made public Monday night with the client’s name blacked out.

The complaint comes on the heels of the FBI reinstating the security clearance of whistleblower Marcus Allen, a former FBI staff operations specialist, after allegations of politicized retaliation. 

The 12-year employee also volunteered to an FBI polygraph, in which the Office of Inspector General found “no deception” when he said he did not enter the Capitol or a restricted area. 

In March 2022, then-FBI Executive Assistant Director Jennifer Leigh Moore suspended the employee’s security clearance, and made an indefinite suspension without pay. The employee then made confidentiality protected disclosures to the House Judiciary Committee that alleged politicization of the security clearance process. 

“The FBI Security Division (“SecD”) improperly pursued a broad, sweeping investigation into our client’s political opinions, questioning other protected First Amendment activity and Second Amendment advocacy while off-duty,” Empowerment Oversight President Tristan Leavitt said in the cover letter of the complaint to Horowitiz, the inspector general. 

Empower Oversight obtained the investigative files from the FBI. Leavitt said the “shocking documents” demonstrate the FBI Security Division’s “political bias and abuse of the security clearance process to purge the FBI of employees who expressed disfavored political views or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.”

The FBI sent the former employee’s colleagues a questionnaire, asking such questions as whether the employee did “Vocalize support for President Trump,” “Vocalize objection to Covid-19 vaccination,” and “Vocalize intent to attend 01/06/2021.”

“Instead of limiting its investigation to legitimate issues, SecD [the FBI’s Security Division] acted as if support for President Trump, objecting to COVID-19 vaccinations, or lawfully attending a protest was the equivalent of being a member of Al Qaeda or the Chinese Communist Party,” the Empower Oversight complaint to the inspector general says. “The FBl’s intentions are made clear by the questions it chose to put in black and white on a government document.”  

Whistleblowers and former FBI agents have come forward with stories about the FBI focusing on pro-life protesters, developing a “threat tag” to monitor parents who spoke up at school board meetings, and relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left organization that brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” putting them on a map with the Ku Klux Klan.

The FBI’s Richmond office cited the SPLC in targeting “radical traditional Catholics” for surveillance in a memo last January, before the national office officially rescinded the memo. The Justice Department took a briefing with the SPLC when it released a “hate” report in 2023.

According to documents obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, FBI agents worked about 16,000 more hours during the pay period after the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, than they did during the pay period of the 2020 riots in Washington, D.C.

The Daily Signal has reached out to the FBI for comment and will update this story accordingly.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.