The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG) has contradicted House Democrats’ claim about whistleblower and former FBI Special Agent Steve Friend, a group representing Friend announced in a March 15 press release.
House Judiciary Democrats released a 316-page report early March challenging the credibility of whistleblowers who sat for transcribed interviews with the House Judiciary Committee, alleging, among other things, that both the DOJ-OIG and Office of Special Counsel had rejected Friend’s claim. In a March 13 letter sent to Empower Oversight, a nonprofit that helps whistleblowers document and report corruption, DOJ Assistant Inspector General Sean O’Neill corrected the record, assuring the group that Friend’s claims “remain under assessment.”
As part of an investigation into alleged political bias in the FBI and DOJ, the House Judiciary Committee, headed by Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, first released a report summarizing allegations made by whistleblowers in November.
Friend alleged in his whistleblower complaint that the FBI is violating due process by failing to follow established case management rules for Jan. 6 investigations and is using forceful arrest tactics like SWAT teams for cooperative Jan. 6 case subjects.
After reporting his concerns to FBI supervisors, Friend allegedly had his security clearance suspended and was placed on unpaid suspension.
“As we conveyed to your office in early February, we are interested in interviewing Mr. Friend about his allegations, which remain under assessment by our office,” O’Neill wrote. “We will follow up with you shortly to schedule an interview.”
A @JusticeOIG letter to @EMPOWR_us President @tristanleavitt contradicts House Democrats’ false claim that it had “rejected” @RealStevefriend‘s concerns, confirms it will interview him.
DOJ watchdog seeks to interview FBI whistleblower, pushing back https://t.co/Widv0RSRWn… https://t.co/08OGsHdYHe pic.twitter.com/QdrWyMSbPS
— Jason Foster (@JsnFostr) March 16, 2023
“Friend claimed that the FBI departed from its internal operations manual as it managed hundreds of cases after the January 6 Capitol attack,” the Democrat’s report states. “Friend brought this claim to the Justice Department Inspector General and the Office of Special Counsel. Both rejected the claim.”
Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt previously sent the DOJ-OIG a letter on March 6. to confirm Friend’s claims had not been rejected.
“Our understanding has been, and remains, that it is your office’s intent to interview Friend in order to obtain a more complete understanding of his allegations and fully assess both his underlying disclosures as well as his retaliation claims,” he wrote. “However, last week Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary provided a ‘staff report’ to the New York Times containing selectively edited partial transcript excerpts of Friend’s testimony, along with various interview exhibits, and numerous mischaracterizations written by Democrat staff, including claims about meaning of the December 2, 2022 form letter from your office and the current status of Friend’s case there.”
Jason Foster, Empower Oversight founder, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the DOJ-OIG letter “confirms what we told anyone who bothered to ask from the beginning.”
“It’s a shame that so many media organizations ran with partisan talking points that were too good to check and misled so many of their readers, but this letter confirms what we told anyone who bothered to ask from the beginning—Friend made legally protected disclosures and the Inspector General will be interviewing him about them,” he said.
Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Democratic Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett did not immediately respond to a question about why the Democratic Staff Report claimed the DOJ-OIG rejected Friend’s claims.
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