- The Washington Times
Thursday, September 29, 2022

The politicization of the FBI is being implemented by the promotion of liberal agents into positions of authority and the punishment or dismissal of agents who support conservative causes, FBI insiders told The Washington Times.

They said this institutionalizes a liberal bias in the upper ranks of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.

In one high-profile example, an FBI agent on duty demonstrated solidarity with Black Lives Matter marchers in Washington by “taking a knee” as the protesters passed. The agent was rewarded with a promotion to a supervisor rank.

The BLM march in Washington in 2020 was part of protests and riots that swept the country in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Some law enforcement officers began kneeling with BLM protesters in Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Los Angeles; Coral Gables, Florida; Buffalo, New York; and elsewhere.

Among six on-duty agents in full FBI gear who “took a knee” for BLM protesters in Washington was a female agent who later was promoted to the No. 2 supervisory post at the Washington field office.

Larissa Knapp, the counterterrorism special agent in charge at the Washington field office, immediately lauded the six agents, The Times has learned. She said the kneeling agents de-escalated a confrontation that could have turned violent.

Other agents on the scene chose not to kneel.

FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphin, who has been suspended from his job at the bureau, said he witnessed Ms. Knapp shower praise on the agents when all the employees gathered in the conference room of the assistant director in charge to discuss “presence patrols.”

Ms. Knapp hugged each of the “kneeling agents” for their action at the protest, Mr. Seraphin said.

He said he shook his head in disbelief before Ms. Knapp yelled at him.

“So she focused her tirade about how ‘they were heroes … saved lives and they did the right thing. I called [Director Christopher A. Wray] to say how proud I was they de-escalated things. I don’t want to see anyone looking sideways at them,’” Mr. Seraphin recalled her saying.

The FBI disputed that Ms. Knapp raised her voice in the room toward anyone that day.  

The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), a private, professional association, told The Times it provided gift cards of “modest value” and personal notes to these agents for “exercising their professional judgment to diffuse a tense situation and avoid violence.”

“Our efforts in support of these Agents had nothing to do with supporting any group or movement. Outreach like this to Agents is a normal course of action when the FBIAA wants to show support for members, and I wanted to show support for these members after a challenging situation,” FBIAA President Brian O’Hare told The Times in a statement.

A former FBI official who spoke on the condition of anonymity also recalled the events in the conference room.

“Some people were like, ‘That’s pretty disgraceful what they did. We’re not supposed to take sides,’” the former official said.

Mr. Seraphin said joining the BLM protest should have been viewed as a policy violation of the Hatch Act, a law that prevents federal workers from engaging in political activity while on duty, in a federal facility or using government resources.

“There were plenty of other agents who were at the scene who did not take a knee, and they said, ‘Look, we didn’t feel threatened,’” he said.

According to the Justice Department, “Political activity is activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. The statute carries serious penalties including REMOVAL from federal employment.”

Several FBI agents noted a stark difference in how the Justice Department viewed Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump supporters who attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington.

The Justice Department is still prosecuting those who clashed with U.S. Capitol Police that day. Charges include trespassing, assault and obstruction of an official proceeding.

The department recently settled with Black Lives Matter activists and others who clashed with the Secret Service and Park Police in Lafayette Park in June 2020.

Mr. Seraphin and the former bureau employee noted that the bureau punished some FBI employees for going to President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those employees stopped short of joining Trump supporters who breached the Capitol and rioted to protest the certification of Joseph R. Biden’s election. Still, the bureau eliminated their security clearances.

“The entire world has changed in the last year and a half after June 6, and news started to come out about FBI employees who simply attended a rally having their clearances pulled,” a former FBI employee said.

The bureau would pull any string to connect an employee close to the Capitol that day to the “insurrection,” the former employee said.

The FBI provided this statement to The Times in response to questions about the apparent disparate treatment of agents participating in BLM protests and protests linked to Mr. Trump:

“While the FBI does not comment on specific personnel matters, under no circumstances would we take action against employees for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. All FBI employees understand that adherence to rigorous security policies and the highest standards of integrity are critical to fulfilling our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States.”

The FBI also noted that all FBI employees are subject to the Hatch Act.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the person who handed out the gift cards.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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