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FBI Grilled Whistleblower’s Colleagues on Trump Support and COVID-19 Vaccine Objections

The FBI has reportedly interrogated colleagues of a whistleblower regarding his support for former President Trump and his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Internal files from the bureau’s Security Division reveal that the whistleblower, who served in the FBI for 12 years, had his top secret security clearance revoked following the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. The nonprofit organization Empower Oversight is representing the whistleblower, and its president, Tristan Leavitt, has sent a letter to the Justice Department Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, exposing the “pre-printed” questions that employees were asked about their client.

The questionnaire used by the Clearance Investigations Unit included inquiries about whether the whistleblower had expressed support for President Trump, objected to the COVID-19 vaccine, or had any intentions to attend or attended specific events. However, some questions and the whistleblower’s identity were redacted. Colleagues were instructed to answer each question truthfully or face potential action against their own security clearances.

According to the colleagues’ responses, they described the whistleblower as having right-wing views and strong Republican values but clarified that he was not an extremist and had never advocated for violence. Despite receiving cash awards and positive performance evaluations throughout his tenure, the whistleblower had his security clearance suspended in March 2022 and was subsequently placed on unpaid leave during an internal investigation.

It is worth noting that the whistleblower had taken personal leave to attend the “Save America” rally on January 6, 2021, alongside other Trump supporters. He reported this fact to an FBI security official but did not enter the Capitol grounds. During the probe into his actions, he offered to take a polygraph test to prove his innocence, and an examiner confirmed that there was “no deception” in his response.

After having his clearance revoked, the whistleblower made protected disclosures to the House Judiciary Committee, alleging that the security process within the FBI was being politicized and abused. FBI Executive Assistant Director Jennifer Leigh Moore ultimately revoked the clearance in April 2023, leading to the whistleblower’s recent retirement from the bureau. However, Empower Oversight is currently appealing this decision due to its potential impact on the whistleblower’s future employment opportunities.

Tristan Leavitt, the president of Empower Oversight, has criticized the Security Division’s handling of the case, claiming that it showcases political bias and an abuse of the security clearance process. Leavitt argues that expressing support for President Trump, objecting to COVID-19 vaccinations, or lawfully attending a protest should not be equated with membership in extremist organizations like Al Qaeda or the Chinese Communist Party. He also points out that terminating federal employees for their political views or associations violates the First Amendment and calls for an investigation into these abuses within the FBI.

Leavitt’s request for an investigation is supported by a recent DOJ OIG probe that found the FBI had improperly retaliated against whistleblowers whose security clearances were suspended. It remains to be seen how the Justice Department Inspector General’s office will respond to these allegations. Neither the FBI nor the OIG’s office has provided an immediate comment on the matter.

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