Top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee investigating the so-called “weaponization” of the federal government released a 316-page report on Thursday — first reported by the New York Times — skewering House Republicans and casting doubt on the three GOP “whistleblowers” who have testified in front of the committee.
The lengthy report, penned by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands), comes in reaction to one of the countless stunt investigations House Republicans are conducting into the Biden administration. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — chairman of the panel — and other Republicans have been loudly claiming for months that they have testimony from numerous whistleblowers that will somehow show government agencies, like the FBI, are targeting right-wing individuals and groups.
Since the new year, three of the GOP witnesses — George Hill, a retired FBI supervisory intelligence analyst from the Boston field office, Stephen Friend, a former special agent who worked in the Daytona Beach office, and Garret O’Boyle, a suspended special agent from the field office in Wichita, Kansas — have testified behind closed doors.
But the report from Democrats suggests that instead of legitimate whistleblowers the trio appears to be a group of conspiracy theorizing, embattled former FBI agents who were compensated and supported by allies of former President Donald Trump.
Here are four key takeaways from the House Democrats’ report:
At least two of the so-called whistleblowers received financial support from a Trump ally
Two of the witnesses, O’Boyle and Friend, testified that they have received financial support from Kash Patel — a Trump loyalist and high-ranking official in the former president’s administration who advanced conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the Russia probe.
During his testimony, Friend detailed that Patel sent him “$5,000 almost immediately after they connected in November 2022.”
Witnesses have ties to MAGA Trump allies
Patel didn’t just provide financial assistance to the so-called whistleblowers.
“Based on this evidence, committee Democrats conclude that there is a strong likelihood that Kash Patel is encouraging the witnesses to continue pursuing their meritless claims, and in fact is using them to help propel his vendetta against the F.B.I., Justice Department, and Biden administration on behalf of himself and President Trump,” the report said.
According to the report, Patel found Friend his current job, working as a fellow on domestic intelligence and security services at the Center for Renewing America. The center is led by Russell Vought — a former Trump official — and largely funded by the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization run by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
Patel also arranged for Jesse Binnall — who served as one of Trump’s lawyers when he falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen — to be O’Boyle’s attorney.
“When Committee Democrats asked O’Boyle about this financial connection, Binnall appeared to surprise his client with an announcement that he was now representing O’Boyle pro bono,” according to the report.
All three seem to embrace conspiracy theories and extremist views
Committee Democrats argued that the witnesses in question are not reliable sources because they have openly embraced conspiracy theories and extremist views around domestic terrorism and the FBI.
“Each endorses an alarming series of conspiracy theories related to the January 6 Capitol attack, the COVID vaccine, and the validity of the 2020 election,” Democrats said in the report. “One has called repeatedly for the dismantling of the FBI. Another suggested that it would be better for Americans to die than to have any kind of domestic intelligence program.”
In a social media post Hill claimed that the Jan. 6 attack was a “set up” and part of a “larger #Democrat plan using their enforcement arm, the #FBI,” according to the report.
Friends also embraced similar conspiracy theories. He sent FBI Director Christopher Wray a public letter in Dec. 2022, asking “what he described as tough but fair questions such as, Will you commit to educating executive management personnel that J6 protesters did not kill any police officers?” and “Why didn’t the FBI open a civil rights violation investigation concerning the killing of Ashli Babbit?”
Over a four month period — from Nov. 2022 to Feb. 2023 — Friend also published several tweets calling for the FBI to be “defunded, dismantled, dissolved, aborted, abolished,or otherwise ended,” according to the report.
Witnesses don’t meet the legal definition of a whistleblower
Per the report: “Federal law only protects FBI employees from retaliation when making claims that they ‘reasonably believe’ provide evidence of ‘(A) any violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or (B) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.’ None of the three witnesses interviewed to date comes close to meeting that definition.”
Democrats argue that the trio of witnesses relied on “second hand claims and hearsay” during their interviews and therefore don’t meet the legal definition of a whistleblower.
“None of the witnesses have provided evidence related to a violation of law, policy, or abuse of authority. None are whistleblowers in any sense recognized by federal law or any federal agency,” the report read.