FBI showed political bias against Trump supporters in security clearance review of longtime employee

by | Jun 11, 2024

Internal memos have revealed that FBI officials conducting a top-secret security clearance review for a long-serving employee questioned witnesses about the individual's support for President Trump, stance on the COVID-19 vaccine, and attendance at a Second Amendment rally. These inquiries led to a complaint alleging political bias within the bureau, which has been submitted to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.


Documents obtained by Just the News indicate that the employee’s security clearance was revoked several months after these interviews, which confirmed his support for Trump, advocacy for gun rights, and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the memos, FBI’s Security Division agents questioned at least three witnesses in the spring of 2022. They inquired whether the employee, whose identity was redacted, had expressed support for President Trump or objected to COVID-19 vaccination. At least one witness confirmed that the employee had refused the coronavirus vaccine. These questions were raised shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down corporate vaccine mandates and a federal court halted federal employee vaccine mandates.

Agents also investigated whether the FBI worker had attended the Richmond Lobby Day event in January 2021, a rally supporting the Second Amendment in Virginia. The agents’ notes described the employee as a “gun nut” but stated he engaged in “no promotion of violence.”

The FBI has not commented on why the employee’s political views, support for gun rights, or vaccine hesitancy were relevant to his security clearance. They also did not clarify whether similar questions are posed regarding support for Biden or other medical issues, such as support for abortion rights.

Tristan Leavitt, the employee’s lawyer, disclosed in a letter to the DOJ inspector general that his client had made protected whistleblower disclosures to both Congress and the DOJ regarding the politicization of the security clearance process. Leavitt claimed his client was targeted simply for taking a vacation day to attend the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C.

Leavitt, who heads the nonprofit Empower Oversight center specializing in whistleblower cases, emphasized that his client did not participate in any criminal activity nor enter the Capitol on January 6. He labeled the ensuing security review process as evidence of political bias against conservatives within the FBI.

In his letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Leavitt described the documents detailing the security clearance review as shocking evidence of abuse of authority and a violation of our client's rights under the First Amendment. Horowitz's office, which has previously reported on various FBI abuses, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether it would investigate the matter.

If an inquiry is opened, it could reveal whether the FBI's questions about political views and medical opinions during security clearance reviews were widespread or isolated incidents. Two sources told Just the News that similar information had been gathered on other employees, suggesting the practice was not unique.

The memos provide unprecedented insight into the security clearance review process for Leavitt’s client. Prepared questions were presented to witnesses, and their responses were recorded by agents. The handwritten notes offer a glimpse into what agents considered relevant for determining whether the employee should retain his clearance.

One interview revealed that the employee had “right wing views, nothing extreme,” and was described as a “def Trump supporter” with “strong republican values.” Another interview noted his significant support for Trump, stating he believed the election was stolen and had a “militant point of view” without implying aggression or physical actions.

Regarding vaccine hesitancy, agents confirmed the employee had not been vaccinated but followed bureau rules for unvaccinated staff. Notes indicated he was “very against masks and vaccines.”

By April 2022, when the FBI questioned the employee’s vaccine views, the U.S. Supreme Court had already struck down corporate vaccine mandates, and a federal court had issued an injunction against a federal employee vaccine mandate. The Biden administration's appeal in the latter case was later rendered moot by the Supreme Court.

In terms of Second Amendment views, agents summarized witnesses' answers succinctly, referring to the employee as a “gun nut” who attended all Second Amendment gatherings but did not promote violence.

Leavitt argued to the IG that the FBI’s actions during his client’s security clearance review violated constitutional rights and Supreme Court precedents related to employment law and the First Amendment.


Read the FBI memos here.

Read the letter to IG Horowitz here.

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