Whistleblowers at the FBI have reached out to several members of Congress to complain that the FBI and DOJ have been politically compromised. This prompted Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to send a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland seeking answers to allegations of, “widespread violations of internal policies designed to ensure proper handling of the FBI’s most sensitive investigations.”
Specifically, Grassley claims that whistleblowers have named Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault of the Washington DC Field Office and Richard Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch as having abused their authority to open investigations or suppress them on partisan grounds that favor the Democrat party. Whistleblowers claim that in one case that the evidence used to open an investigation that resulted in subpoenas to electors in the 2020 election was based mostly on a series of CNN news pieces based on the information given to them by a liberal political group called American Oversight. This has shades of the Russian Collusion investigation against the Trump campaign where substantial parts of the predicating evidence for FISA warrants were based on news reports about the Steele Dossier that may have been leaked to them by the FBI itself.
Agents are being told to “find” domestic terrorism cases to prosecute on a quota system for FBI field offices to satisfy demands made by their superiors. Whether these cases go forward and result in charges is less important than the FBI being able to say that a certain number of domestic terrorism investigations have been initiated. This information released publically is then used to claim that a massive domestic terrorism problem exists in the US.
In September 2021, FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee testifying that he had been “forced” to drastically increase resources conducting domestic terrorism investigations in the past 18 months. FBI agents investigating these cases were increased by 260% to handle a caseload that has gone from 1,000 ongoing investigations to 2,700 in just 18 months. Wray stated that the number of cases from year to year in the past was pretty consistently around 1,000.
In the case of the January 6th riot at the Capitol, Federal Judges have complained that the government is pressing for jail time for sole “petty offenses” and claiming that the penalties sought for January 6th defendants are much harsher than those meted out to rioters all over the country after the George Floyd killing, which were much more violent and numerous.
In Michigan, a jury failed to convict two defendants and could not reach a verdict in two other cases involving a plot to kidnap and murder governor Gretchen Witmer. During their trial on terrorism and kidnapping charges when it was discovered that 12 of the persons involved in the plot were either FBI agents or informants for the FBI. These individuals served in key leadership positions in the group, conducted training in weapons, tactics, and explosives, and even did the recruiting of new members. The FBI didn’t stumble onto a plot to kidnap Witmer, they practically created it on their own and then arrested those whom they enlisted to help them pull it off.
Whistleblowers also alleged that within the FBI there is an internal purge of agents and employees who are believed to be conservatives, Republicans, or Trump supporters.
Slow Walking The Hunter Biden Investigation
With respect to the laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, Whistleblowers allege that FBI Analyst Brian Auten used his authority to cease any investigation into the contents of the Hunter Biden laptop prior to the election that put Joe Biden in the White House. Auten’s analysis was that information on the laptop hard drive was Russian misinformation. This was while 50 former national security officials,(mostly from the CIA) signed their names to a letter that claimed that the existence of the hunter Biden laptop itself was a Russian disinformation campaign. That Auten quashed an investigation into the laptop is contradicted by claims in the letter itself that the FBI was investigating the origins of the laptop and possible Russian involvement.
A question that has not been answered is whether Auten provided any information to the 50 national security officials who signed their names to that letter calling it Russian disinformation.
While Congress was investigating the information leaked from the Hunter Biden laptop, the FBI took the step of giving the committee a briefing which Grassley called unnecessary where they shared Auten’s assessment that the information was Russian disinformation. The details of this briefing were then leaked to the press generating news stories that Republican members of Congress were conducting a bogus investigation into Hunter Biden even after being briefed by the FBI that it was all disinformation. Senator Grassley believes this was by design.
Now that the election is over, we now know that these 50 national security officials were completely wrong about it being Russian misinformation and that the laptop and the information on it is authentic. It contains information that implicates then Vice President Biden in an elaborate scheme where his son brokered access to the Vice President in exchange for money, ten percent of which was held for “the big guy” widely believed to be President Biden himself.
That Brian Auten himself is able to still exert this kind of influence is surprising. Auten was deeply involved in the misconduct of the FBI in the Russian collusion case leveled against former president Trump in 2016. Austin’s role in that discredited investigation which saw widespread abuse of the FISA Warrant program based on fabricated evidence, resulted in the FBI Inspector General referring Auten for disciplinary action by the Bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Auten’s specific misconduct found by the IG was to fail to advise FBI officials of known inconsistencies in the infamous Steele Dossier used as the basis for the investigation into former president Trump along with various FISA warrants issued against US citizens.
According to Treasury Department records, the financial dealings of Hunter Biden have generated some 150 Suspicious Activity Reports or SARS. These reports help law enforcement agencies monitor activity in finance-related industries that are deemed out of the ordinary, an indicator of illegal activity, or might threaten public safety. They are most commonly filed on suspicion of money laundering and are shared with the FBI and Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. A single report might not trigger an investigation but in Hunter Biden’s case, the SARs reports go all the way back to the Bush administration, 150 of them. Members of Congress were once permitted to obtain SAR reports in their districts or states, but shortly after taking office, those rules changed without notice. While the Biden administration claims that the Treasury Dept makes every request for SARs available regardless of party. But on June 13th, Republican staffers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee were told by Treasury officials in a phone call that SARS will not be provided to Committee Republicans unless Democrats join in that request. This prompted ranking member Congressman James Comer(R KY) to write a strong letter of protest to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin.
Should Hunter Biden ever be charged, some questions should be answered about why 150 SARs reports never triggered an investigation of him years ago.
Chinese Operatives Compromise Two Members of Congress
In July 2018, Politico reported that Senator Diane Feinstein had a staffer who was compromised by Chinese intelligence agents. Feinstein sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The staffer was employed as a driver and gofer for her. This staffer was also her liaison to the sizable Asian community in California and even attended functions at the Chinese Consulate with the Senator suggesting the staffer had a larger role than just getting her coffee and driving her around. Rather than open and pursue a counter-intelligence investigation to determine the level of this breach, or pursue charges against the staffer for espionage, the FBI told Feinstein privately about the staffer and she fired him. Her office then put out a statement that the matter was of no importance, that no classified information was ever in the possession of the staffer, and that he or she was only at risk of being recruited but was not actually recruited. The Senator claimed the FBI interviewed the staffer, assured themselves nothing was revealed of substance and that was the end of the matter.
This begs the question; If the staffer was wholly innocent of any cooperation with Chinese intelligence agents and had not divulged any information of importance, why were they “forced” to retire?
In 2015 a Chinese national named Fang Fang who was known here in the US as Christine Fang had managed to get herself next to Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell of California as a fundraiser. She also raised funds for Tulsi Gabbard at one point. As with Senator Feinstein, the FBI gave Swalwell a warning that she was a suspicious person and he cut all ties with her. Shortly after that, Fang Fang fled the country. This was while she was supposedly under FBI surveillance for several years without being arrested. According to federal law enforcement officials, Fang worked for China’s Ministry of State Security. Swalwell has refused to say whether he ever had a sexual relationship with Fang, but it is suggested that their relationship was more than just a formal political relationship as a bundler of campaign contributions to his campaign.
The Badly Botched Hillary Clinton Investigation
In the matter of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having a private and secret email server located in her house in violation of State Department rules and the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI conducted an investigation that critics said seemed designed to screw up the evidence so badly that it would be impossible for any future Attorney General to ever reopen the investigation at a later date. This was in spite of FBI internal documents that said the “sheer volume” of classified(and unsecured) information that flowed through Clinton’s server was proof of criminality and an admission of false statements by a key witness in the case.
Congressional investigators also discovered that the FBI began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton of wrongdoing before evidence under subpoena was obtained and before FBI agents had interviewed at least 17 key witnesses to the alleged crimes. Among those witnesses was Clinton herself and the computer professional who permanently erased her email archives just days after those archives were subpoenaed by Congress.
Rather than allow field agents in New York to conduct the investigation under normal procedure, the Clinton investigation was handled by a small number of senior FBI officials located in FBI headquarters in Washington DC.
In 2016, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Clinton on the tarmac of an airport. Both should have known it was entirely improper for the Attorney General to meet with the husband of someone under investigation by the FBI. Director Comey later told Congress that he made the unilateral decision not to charge Clinton without consulting the DOJ and Lynch because of the impropriety of that meeting. There are assistants to the Attorney General that would have been able to make that determination with Comey.
After a meeting with the Obama administration, Director Comey bowed to political pressure and agreed to adopt the language used by Sec. Clinton in public, who insisted on calling it a “matter” rather than the criminal “investigation” that it clearly was. Jokes were told inside the Bureau about it being renamed the “Federal Bureau of Matters.’
The Computer professional who illegally wiped the Clinton server told the FBI that he had not deleted any information. He later told FBI agents that he had done so. His initial lie to the FBI was a felony, which the FBI has pressed in cases like those against Trump officials and even Martha Stewart. The FBI gave the computer professional immunity from prosecution which allowed him to change his story without fear of prison time. It should be remembered that this individual was an actual suspect in the alleged crimes that included destroying evidence under subpoena. What the FBI did in effect is give immunity to a bank robber to get evidence on a convenience store clerk who sold them the ski masks they used in the robbery.
The FBI also gave immunity to fact witnesses subject to charges like Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson i exchange for laptops that would have incriminated them in the offenses. It allowed another fact witness to serve as counsel to Clinton which instantly made all their communications about the server off limits as a matter of attorney-client privilege.
FBI headquarters was notified on September 28, 2016, that additional emails relevant to the Clinton email probe had been discovered on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner. They took no action on it for weeks. The same agents in charge of the Clinton investigation were now working on the Trump/Russia investigation, among them Peter Strzok.
In the end, Director Comey took the extraordinary step who holding a news conference and issuing an exonerating statement for Hillary Clinton calling her handling of thousands of classified emails as “sloppy” but not criminal. He even avoided characterizing her conduct as “grossly negligent” because that carried connotations of criminal behavior when it comes to classified material. He told the press that while the evidence of the mishandling of classified information was obviously present, he doubted a prosecution would proceed because they could not prove that Clinton had the “intent” to break the law. More than one retired prosecutor was quick to point out that proving “intent” is not needed for a prosecution in the face of clear evidence of a crime.
Of course, the investigation of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign brought new charges of political bias to the FBI as well. As we now know, the foundation of the case, the Steele Dossier was based on rumors and hearsay that should never have been the predicate for an investigation of this kind. The investigation itself was so egregiously bad and mishandled that it triggered a Special Counsel investigation, saw the Director of the FBI get fired, and resulted in an IG investigation. That IG investigation went to the trouble of saying it found no evidence of political bias at the FBI, but did not say how hard it tried to find it. This was in the face of revealed emails by Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page that revealed a very deep political bias. The FBI also knew that Christopher Steele held a deep political bias and was paid for his work by a law firm working for the Clinton campaign to compile the dossier but this information with withheld from the FISA judges that were issuing the illegal warrants. Wouldn’t bias have something to do with that?
The National Security Danger Posed by a Politicized FBI
Taken all together and considering that the lack of prosecutions and special privileges seems to extend only to Democrats, a picture emerges of a deeply compromised FBI.
And this has national security implications that are deeply troubling. If Russia, China, Iran or other adversaries of the United States come to understand that they can compromise Democrat politicians knowing that the FBI will downplay, obstruct or otherwise minimize the involvement of foreign intelligence agencies to protect the political reputation of one party, these foreign intelligence agencies will target Democrat party office holders very specifically.
This would lead to secondary effects as well. In the effort to conceal the political bias the FBI and DOJ would be forced to look the other way when evidence arose that Democrat politicians had been compromised by agents of a foreign power, or try to handle them quietly and informally as they did with Feinstein and Swalwell. It would go further than just espionage cases and extend to election fraud, campaign finance violations, and other forms of graft and corruption.
Finally, FBI agents who wish to serve in a politically neutral and unbiased agency will resign and the new hires will be those already inclined to accept a new status quo that favors one party over another in terms of investigations of corruption, fundraising, voter fraud, and espionage.
Senator Grassley’s letter to Merrick Garland appears below.
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Merrick Garland
Department of Justice
The Honorable Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Dear Attorney General Garland and Director Wray:
On May 31, 2022, I wrote to you regarding likely violations of Federal laws, regulations and Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) guidelines by Assistant Special Agent in Charge (“ASAC”) found widespread violations of internal policies designed to ensure proper handling of the FBI’s most sensitive investigations (“WFO”) based on a pattern of active public partisanship in his then public social media content. Thibault thereafter suppressed his social media postings from public view. My letter encouraged current and former government employees to contact my office to confidentially report allegations of fraud, waste, abuse and gross mismanagement by FBI and Justice Department (“Department”) officials including, but not limited to, ASAC Thibault. In response, I have received a significant number of protected communications from highly credible whistleblowers.
As you know, Thibault is a high-ranking FBI agent in the WFO. In 2020, Thibault became the FBI WFO’s ASAC overseeing the highest-level national public corruption investigations and prosecutions. Prior to that, Thibault had various positions as an FBI line agent and supervisor during the past 20 years in which he was involved in highly sensitive political
corruption investigations and prosecutions.
The information provided by whistleblowers confirms my concerns about a pattern of clear political partisanship by Thibault as well as other senior FBI and Justice Department
officials. In fact, the information I have received reveals that Thibault’s political partisanship went much deeper than the inappropriate social media posts. Instead, it impacted his official
decision-making on sensitive public corruption investigations. Equally concerning is that, based on Justice Department and FBI policies, Thibault’s partisanship likely affected investigations
briefed to, and approved by, senior Justice Department and FBI officials.
Whistleblowers have reported me that, although the FBI and Justice Department maintain policies dictating specific standards requiring substantial factual predication to initiate an investigation, Thibault and other Justice Department and FBI employees failed to comply with these requirements. By disregarding these policies, Thibault was able to open or approve,
or cause to be opened or approved, investigations based on unsubstantiated or unverified statements sourced to biased media publications. In other instances, whistleblowers have
reported that Thibault declined to open or approve investigations based on partisan objectives notwithstanding the existence of proper predication. This double standard in the application of
Justice Department and FBI policies has resulted in investigations opened in a manner appearing to benefit the political aims and objectives of a select few Justice Department and FBI officials.
Further, it is my understanding from whistleblowers that when FBI agents sought a uniform and consistent application of these standards, their concerns were marginalized or otherwise not
According to CNN, the FBI is investigating former President Trump’s campaign and its advisors, and the Justice Department has issued subpoenas to individuals linked to electors
during the 2020 election.1 Whistleblowers have indicated that Thibault and Richard Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch within the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section,
were deeply involved in the decisions to open and pursue this investigation. Based on allegations, the investigation’s predicating document is based in substantial part on January 2022
CNN news articles which relied on information derived from a liberal non-profit, American Oversight, and referenced a Boris Epshteyn interview on MSNBC.2
As you know, a high-profile investigation such as this would require the Attorney General and FBI Director to be briefed on the full factual predication which they would then review and approve. Based on allegations, the opening memo that you approved included selective assertions created in large part by Thibault and either removed or watered-down material connected to the aforementioned left-wing entities that existed in previous versions and recommended that a full investigation – not a preliminary investigation – be approved. As you know, a full investigation requires a heightened factual basis as compared to a preliminary investigation. In light of these allegations, I remain very concerned that political bias by a select group of Justice Department and FBI officials has infected the Justice Department’s and FBI’s usual process and procedure to open and pursue high-profile and politically charged investigations.
Unfortunately, such conduct will come as no surprise to the both of you.
On March 28, 2022, Chairman Durbin and I wrote to you with respect to an FBI audit conducted in 2019 that “found widespread violations of internal policies designed to ensure proper handling of the FBI’s most sensitive investigations.”3 Simply put, if a politically charged investigation is to be opened, the Justice Department and FBI have an obligation to ensure that it’s done the right way. Based on the allegations, that does not appear to have happened. Such improper conduct demands further explanation from the Justice Department and FBI.
In addition, multiple whistleblowers have reported that various individuals, including Thibault and Pilger, did not support FBI agents seeking to follow normal investigative procedures related to investigating election crime allegations during multiple presidential elections. The allegations that I’ve received include, but are not limited to, campaign finance allegations, which historically has been an area in which Thibault and Pilger are said to have applied these double standards. This also demands further explanation from the Justice Department and FBI.
These allegations against Thibault and Pilger fit with previous oversight work done by the Senate Judiciary Committee (“committee”). For example, I raised similar concerns about Pilger’s interference just last year. On October 7, 2021, I issued a staff report as part of Chairman Durbin’s investigation into alleged Justice Department misconduct.4
In my report, I devoted an entire section to Pilger’s apparent misconduct at the Public Integrity Section’s Election Crimes Branch.5
My findings were based on testimony from senior Justice Department employees, including Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue. Donoghue testified to the committee that “[t]he problem was that [the Election Crimes Branch] routinely implied that they had approval authority” for investigative steps to be taken or not taken, which was incorrect and frustrated efforts to open investigations.6 Donoghue also stated that “FBI agents were, again, extremely reluctant to proceed without [the Election Crimes Branch’s] explicit approval,” approval which they didn’t need.7
Donoghue’s testimony before the committee further supports increasing congressional concerns that the Justice Department and FBI have failed to prevent political bias from infecting the process and procedure to open and pursue investigations.
As a preliminary matter, I’m apprising you of these allegations because the conduct that has been brought to my attention by whistleblowers prompts fundamental questions about whether the Justice Department and FBI are properly fulfilling their combined law enforcement mission with impartiality and without waste, fraud, abuse and gross mismanagement. My office is in the process of reviewing additional information and will continue to investigate these matters.
Charles E. Grassley
Committee on the Judiciary
footnotes of references.
1 Zachary Cohen & Sara Murray, Multiple fake electors cooperating in Georgia criminal probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn
2020 election, CNN (May 10, 2022), https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/10/politics/georgia-trump-investigation-fake-electorswitness-interviews/index html; Katelyn Polantz et al., Federal prosecutors expand criminal probe into January 6, examining
rally planning and fake electors, CNN (Mar. 31, 2022), https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/31/politics/january-6-criminalprobe/index html. 2 Marshall Cohen et al., Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw fake electors plot in 7 states, CNN (Jan. 20,
2022), https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/politics/trump-campaign-officials-rudy-giuliani-fake-electors/index html; Sonnet Swire,
Former Trump campaign adviser acknowledges being part of 2020 ‘alternate electors’ plot, CNN (Jan. 22, 2022),
https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/22/politics/boris-epshteyn-trump-campaign-fake-electors/index html; Zachary Cohen & Marshall
Cohen, Trump allies’ fake Electoral College certificates offer fresh insights about plot to overturn Biden’s victory, CNN (Jan. 12,
3 S. Comm. on the Judiciary, Durbin, Grassley Press FBI on Reports of Widespread Rule-Breaking in Sensitive Investigations
(Mar. 28, 2022) https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/dem/releases/durbin-grassley-press-fbi-on-reports-of-widespread-rulebreaking-in-sensitive-investigations. 4 Minority Staff of S. Comm. on the Judiciary, 117th Cong., Rep. on In Their Own Words: A Factual Summary Of Testimony
From Senior Justice Department Officials Relating To Events From December 14, 2020 To January 3, 2021 (Oct. 7, 2021),
epartment_officials_relating_to_events_from_december_14_2020_to_january_3_2021.pdf. 5 Id. at Section 6. 6 Interview of Richard Donoghue at 69 (August 6, 2021),
https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Donoghue%20transcript.pdf. 7 Id. at 69.