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FBI Misused SWAT Team to Arrest Jan. 6 Protesters, Whistleblower Says

© AFP 2023 / Robyn BECKFBI agents in riot gear get information from a Los Angeles Police Department police officer (R) as they head towards the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles
FBI agents in riot gear get information from a Los Angeles Police Department police officer (R) as they head towards the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.09.2022
An FBI whistleblower submitted a complaint to the Office of Special Counsel alleging that the federal agency and Department of Justice (DoJ) have violated constitutional rights of Jan. 6 defendants by misusing SWAT teams to make misdemeanor arrests.
Special Agent Stephen M. Friend informed the US Office of Special Counsel, a permanent independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, about alleged violations by the bureau and DoJ in a whistleblower complaint obtained by US media outlet Just the News earlier this week. Friend works for the FBI in Florida and serves as a SWAT team member.
"I believed the investigations were inconsistent with FBI procedure and resulted in the violation of citizens' Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights," Friend wrote. "I added that many of my colleagues expressed similar concerns to me but had not vocalized their objections to FBI Executive Management."
In particular, Friend cited an inappropriate use of SWAT teams to arrest subjects for misdemeanor offenses related to the January 6 protests in DC. According to the complaint, the agent suggested alternatives such as "the issuance of a court summons or utilizing surveillance groups to determine an optimal, safe time for a local sheriff deputy to contact the subjects and advise them about the existence of the arrest warrant."
Nonetheless, one of Friend's bosses told him that "FBI executive management considered all potential alternatives and determined the SWAT takedown was the appropriate course of action."
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Last year, Julie Kelly, a political commentator, author and senior contributor to American Greatness (AG), described numerous cases when January Sixers were raided by SWAT teams despite not being accused of any violent crime or having a criminal record. Many of the defendants were also interrogated with no lawyer present, according to Kelly.
In one case on June 24, 2021, the FBI arrested a Florida pastor and his son for their alleged involvement in the January 6 protest, according to American Greatness. The son, Casey Cusick, was handcuffed in front of his three-year-old daughter, while Cusick’s father, James, the founder and pastor of a church in Melbourne, Florida, also was arrested. Neither of the Cusicks were accused of violent crimes related to the DC incident.
Joseph Bolanos, a 69-year-old New Yorker and former Red Cross volunteer was raided in February 2021 by the FBI anti-terrorism task force because a tipster falsely linked him to the January 6 Capitol hill protest. The old man remained handcuffed and detained for three hours before the problem was resolved.
Agent Friend noted in his whistleblower complaint that he believes that the January 6 investigation has involved "overzealous charging by the DOJ and biased jury pools in Washington DC".
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The whistleblower likewise revealed that the FBI field office in Washington DC was opening Capitol riot cases in other field offices across the US, thus creating "a false data trail" suggesting a nationwide domestic extremism emergency when in reality the cases all stemmed from the Capitol breach in one city: Washington.
As a result of this apparent manipulation, agents in field offices across the country are being listed as case agents for search and arrest warrants for subjects they actually had not investigated, according to Friend.
"There are active criminal investigations of J6 subjects in which I am listed as the 'Case Agent,' but have not done any investigative work," Friend revealed. "Additionally, my supervisor has not approved any paperwork within the file. J6 Task Force members are serving as Affiants on search and arrest warrant affidavits for subjects whom I have never investigated or even interviewed but am listed as a Case Agent."
To complicate matters further, the FBI deprioritized other investigations of serious crimes like child sex exploitation for the sake of January 6 investigation, according to the whistleblower: "I was also told that child sexual abuse material investigations were no longer an FBI priority and should be referred to local law enforcement agencies," the agent wrote.
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Speaking to Just the News, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio confirmed that his office had communicated with Friend and is aware of his complaint. The Republican lawmakers raised concerns about the FBI's usage of excessive force both in raids against January Sixers and the bureau's latest searches of former President Donald Trump's premises in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, which took place on August 8.
The DoJ dispatched a whopping 30 FBI agents to raid Trump's home. However, Jonathan Turley, Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wondered if the FBI's sudden intrusion was really justified given that Trump's team had previously cooperated with the DoJ and complied with a federal subpoena.
On August 14, GOP Rep. Jordan told Fox News that 14 FBI whistleblowers had come forward with concerns about the DoJ's alleged political bias in the wake of the FBI's Mar-a-Lago raid.
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Earlier, a number of FBI whistleblowers reportedly informed Republican congressmembers that the bureau and the Department of Justice had selectively launched investigations into conservative-aligned individuals and exhibited a pattern of political bias. On July 25, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley accused FBI officials of pursuing "politically charged investigations" related to the Trump campaign while downplaying and discrediting negative information concerning Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
"If these allegations are true and accurate, the Justice Department and FBI are – and have been – institutionally corrupted to their very core to the point in which the United States Congress and the American people will have no confidence in the equal application of the law," Grassley wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Not only Republicans are concerned with the FBI and DoJ's apparent political bias: on July 23, former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called out the Biden administration, for "shamelessly weaponz[ing]" federal law enforcement agencies into a "political hit squad."
Ranking Republican lawmakers have been reportedly conducting investigations into the DoJ and the FBI which could take on a new significance if the GOP wins the majority in the House and the Senate after the November midterms.
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