The author served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. He has a law degree from the University of Nebraska and is the author of “FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man,” published by The History Press.
By Greg Stejskal
I have previously written, “When FBI agents are sworn in, they take a sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution. We do not profess loyalty to anyone, only the rule of law. Agents are trained when investigating to follow the facts and the law. Agents are not political eunuchs. They have political opinions and beliefs, but in my experience those opinions and beliefs do not interfere with the search for the truth.”
I may have been too sanguine in making that statement. In my 31+ years in the bureau, I believe my statement was accurate, but my tenure in the bureau did not encompass the Trump presidency nor its aftermath.
With the advent of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, I have come to realize some in the FBI are influenced by their political beliefs.
The weaponization subcommittee’s purpose is “searching for an anti-Trump deep state,” according to the subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Jordan. One of Jordan’s preconceived deep state concerns is the investigation of the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Jordan has stated that the investigation was an example of the weaponization of the DOJ/FBI to undermine the legitimacy of the Trump presidency. Jordan has stated that the investigation was premised on illegitimate allegations and falsehoods perpetrated by attorneys and agents in the DOJ/FBI. A view that was, at least at one time, shared by Trump’s Attorney General William Barr. (A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report reached the opposite conclusion, that being, the FBI had ample probable cause to open an investigation and would have been derelict had they not pursued the investigation.)
In 2019, Barr appointed special counsel, John Durham, to investigate misconduct in the initiation and pursuit of the Russian investigation. Durham concluded his investigation last December and apparently couldn’t find any significant misconduct in the initiation or pursuit of the Russian investigation beyond what had already been divulged in the Mueller investigation. The Mueller investigation also concluded that the Russians did interfere in the 2016 election in an effort to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. (The Mueller investigation resulted in 34 indictments including 12 members of the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, seven guilty pleas or convictions and compelling evidence that Trump obstructed justice.)
The weaponization subcommittee has begun taking private testimony from witnesses. Three of those witnesses are former FBI employees who have been characterized by Jordan as “whistleblowers” despite none of them meeting the legal definition of a whistleblower. But rather these witnesses appear to be aggrieved former FBI agents and an analyst all of whom have espoused right-wing conspiracy theories including debunked or baseless theories regarding the January 6th attack on the Capital, the Covid vaccine and the results of the 2020 presidential election. In addition, these witnesses were compensated monetarily by former President Trump allies among them Kash Patel, an unabashed Trump supporter.
Rep. Jordan is a graduate of law school but has never taken a bar exam. I'm not aware of Jordan having any prosecutorial or investigative experience before coming to Congress.
This is important for two reasons: I’m not sure how valid his personal criticisms are regarding investigations and prosecutions of complicated criminal violations. (He characterized Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the January 6th subcommittee as being mostly hearsay which by definition of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, it was not.) And he is chairing a subcommittee that is in effect conducting an investigation. If the witnesses that have so far been interviewed by the subcommittee are representative, it indicates a lack of any direct knowledge of prosecutorial or investigative misconduct by DOJ/FBI. Based on what has been reported, their testimony would be substantially hearsay and opinion rather than fact.
It is disheartening to know that there are FBI agents and an analyst that have been so beguiled by the falsehoods or “alternative facts” espoused by former President Trump that they ignore their sacred oath to “support and defend” the Constitution and the tenets of basic training to follow the facts (true facts) and the law not political beliefs.
I do believe that the vast majority of people in DOJ/FBI will remain true to their oath and the mission, to seek the truth and justice. This is evidenced by the over 1,000 people who have been charged in connection with January 6th insurrection, and more than half of those have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials.
If the witnesses who have testified so far are indicative of the testimonial evidence to be presented by the Weaponization Subcommittee, then no prima facie case for a deep state anti-Trump conspiracy will be established. In my experience, you don’t make allegations you can’t prove in court. The end result of the “weaponization” investigation may not be a deep state conspiracy, but rather a “shallow state” effort to disparage the DOJ/FBI.
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