Department of Justice’s Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz told the House Judiciary Committee that he would consider a probe of alleged FBI retaliation against agents who participated in demonstrations on Jan. 6, 2021, but did not enter the U.S. Capitol.
Citing whistleblower claims, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the committee, urged Mr. Horowitz last month to investigate allegations the FBI was effectively suspending employees indefinitely by suspending their security clearances for attending the protests.
Mr. Jordan said the agents were being punished “for their participation in protected First Amendment activity on January 6, 2021.”
Mr. Horowitz told Mr. Jordan and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, that he would reach out to the FBI and consider whether to launch an investigation. He stopped short of committing to a formal probe, according to Fox News.
“In view of the concern you have raised, we will ask the FBI to provide the bases for the security clearance and personnel actions taken against the employees you reference in your letter,” Mr. Horowitz said in his letter Wednesday, which was first reported by Fox News. “Based on the information we receive, we will assess whether to conduct a further review.”
“In making such an assessment, we will also consider information about other employees who believe the FBI has taken administrative actions against them for engaging in protected activities on January 6, 2021,” Mr. Horowitz said.
In a letter in April, Mr. Jordan said that several FBI employees have been suspended even though they “did not enter the United States Capitol, have not been charged with any crime, and have not been contacted by law enforcement about their actions.”
He said that one FBI employee who had been with the department for 10 years and had previously served in the military for 20 years was suspended despite not entering the Capitol.
Members of the department are permitted to participate in political speech despite the Hatch Act, which prohibits FBI employees from participating in political campaigns.