“Very serious wrongdoing”: Expert says FBI just pulled the “rug out from under” Jordan’s witnesses

FBI revoked security clearances for Jordan's witnesses over damning Jan. 6 allegations

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published May 18, 2023 11:04AM (EDT)

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The FBI revoked the security clearance of three agents over concerns regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection on Wednesday ahead of two of their scheduled testimonies before the House Judiciary subcommittee investigating what Republicans call the "weaponization" of federal agencies against conservatives, The New York Times reports.

In a letter written by a top FBI official to congressional investigators on Wednesday, the bureau said that the agents — Marcus Allen, Stephen Friend and Brett Gloss — participated in the riots on Jan. 6 or expressed views following the attack that called into question their "allegiance to the United States." The letter, which was sent to subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, came a day before Allen and Friend were set to testify before the panel. 

Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Jordan, called the FBI's clearance actions "a desperate attempt to salvage their reputation" that comes "before brave whistle-blowers testify about the agency's politicized behavior and retaliation against anyone who dares speak out."

Over the last several months, Republican lawmakers have been sourcing FBI agents who they believe support their claim that federal agencies turned against former President Donald Trump and his supporters before and after the insurrection with some agents coming forward as self-described whistleblowers to attest to the ways the bureau was biased against conservatives.

The FBI has suspended Allen, Friend and Gloss while it investigates their cases, according to congressional investigators.

Friend's top-secret clearance was revoked on Tuesday after the 12-year FBI employee refused to participate in the SWAT arrest of a Jan. 6 suspect facing misdemeanor charges last summer over concerns that the raid would be an excessive use of force.

"I have an oath to uphold the Constitution," Friend told his supervisors when he declined to join the Aug. 24, 2021, operation in Jacksonville, Fla. "I have a moral objection and want to be considered a conscientious objector."

According to records from the Department of Justice, Tyler Bensch, who was accused of being a member of a right-wing militia group connected to the Three Percenter movement, was the suspect arrested in Jacksonville on Aug. 24. Friend reportedly omitted details about Bensch when refusing to participate in the raid, neglecting case documents that say Bensch posted a video of himself outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 in body armor and a gas mask with an AR-15 style rifle, and that witnesses had seen Bensch carrying a similar weapon at other times.

The letter said that Friend "espoused an alternative narrative about the events at the U.S. Capitol" while conferring with his supervisors about his refusal. It also noted that he had downloaded files from FBI computers to an unauthorized flash drive but didn't specify which kinds of documents they were.

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Gloss' security clearance was revoked two weeks ago due to the FBI's determination that he violated a federal law against entering a restricted area of Capitol grounds while marching with a pro-Trump mob during the Jan. 6 attack.

The bureau also found that Gloss had provided "false and/or misleading information" about what he witnessed and whether he was in the restricted area that day, and that he failed to report his presence near the Capitol despite one of his supervisors advising him to do so, according to the letter.

Gloss has not been charged with any crimes and denies the claims. However, his statements contradict images he took on Jan. 6 and publicly shared videos of the insurrection, the letter said.

"Mr. Gloss's refusal to provide full, frank and truthful answers to lawful questions of security officials in connection with a personnel security or trustworthiness determination should result in an adverse clearance action," it said.

Allen's top-secret security clearance was revoked last year because he "expressed sympathy for persons or organizations that advocate, threaten or use force or violence," the letter said, citing the FBI's findings.

The letter said that investigators found Allen had emailed his colleagues from his bureau account months after the Capitol riots, instructing them to "exercise extreme caution and discretion in pursuit of any investigative inquiries or leads pertaining to the events of" Jan. 6. Allen also sent an email linking to a website that said "federal law enforcement had some degree of infiltration among the crowds gathered at the Capitol," which he said raised "serious concerns" about the government's participation in the attack.

In addition to these findings, the bureau determined that Allen had failed to provide relevant information to agents investigating the insurrection about its participants, noting that when another agent requested he research a suspect, Allen reported that he found no evidence that the person had engaged in criminal activity.

The other agent closed the case based on Allen's findings, the letter said, but it was later reopened after another agent found public information showing that the suspect had assaulted police during the attack.

"Looks like this FBI letter to Congress pulls rug out from under Jim Jordan's witnesses for Thursday's weaponization subcommittee hearing," tweeted Ryan Goodman, a professor at New York University School of Law. "Letter details allegations of very serious wrongdoing that would be cause for their suspension from FBI."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brett Gloss Brief January 6 Jim Jordan Marcus Allen Politics Stephen Friend