- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2022

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee is demanding a briefing from FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on the bureau’s alleged retaliation against agents who participated in demonstrations on Jan. 6, 2021, but did not enter the U.S. Capitol.

In a letter to Mr. Wray, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked for the director’s full cooperation with Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, who told lawmakers on the panel that he would consider a probe into the matter.

Mr. Jordan also asked for a staff-level briefing on the FBI’s personnel actions against employees “involved in First Amendment-protected activity” at the Jan. 6 demonstration.

“The totality of the FBI’s actions as relayed to us present the appearance that the FBI may be retaliating against these employees for disfavored political speech,” Mr. Jordan wrote in the letter Friday.

On Monday, the FBI responded to Mr. Jordan’s accusations, saying the bureau has not retaliated against employees for participating in protected political activity. 

“While the FBI does not comment on specific personnel matters, under no circumstances would we take action against employees for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights,” FBI spokesperson Christina Pullen said in a statement. “All FBI employees understand that adherence to rigorous security policies and the highest standards of integrity are critical to fulfilling our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States.”

Citing whistleblower claims, the congressman urged Mr. Horowitz last month to investigate the allegations of workplace retaliation against FBI employees.

Mr. Horowitz told Mr. Jordan and Judiciary Committee Chair 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.

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.

“Given these facts, it is extremely concerning that the FBI would seek to suspend the security clearances of these employees and begin the process to potentially terminate their employment altogether,” the letter said. “Even more insulting is that the FBI would openly question the patriotism of long-time FBI employees, including at least one veteran, because they exercised their First Amendment rights on their personal time without breaking any laws.”

Members of the department are permitted to participate in political speech despite the Hatch Act, which prohibits FBI employees from participating in political campaigns.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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