This week, Jim Jordan’s “Weaponization” subcommittee is convening their usual clown car of conspiracy theorists, insurrection sympathizers, and anti-vaxxers to air political grievances and spread baseless accusations against the president. These witnesses have already been widely discredited and proven to be bad actors with agendas of their own – but Jordan couldn’t care less. Every move Jordan makes is purely calculated to hurt President Biden and help Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter if that involves elevating people who promote dangerous conspiracy theories or even allegedly support the violence of January 6th. As long as Jordan can churn up contrived outrage he believes he furthers his goal, even as his desperate stunts become more and more transparent, and more dismissed.
Tristan Leavitt is the current president of Empower Oversight, which purports to be a “legal watchdog”. The group’s founder and Chair is Jason Foster, who served as the Republicans’ chief investigative counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2011 until 2018. Leavitt worked as Foster’s deputy for four of those years.
- Leavitt Represents a Number of Suspended or Retired FBI Employees Who Claim to Be “Whistleblowers”. In representing these individuals, Empower Oversight has towed the MAGA movement’s line in downplaying the seriousness of the January 6th insurrection or placing blame for the assault on the Capitol elsewhere, particularly on law enforcement.
- Leavitt Has Assisted the GOP In Highly Politicized Investigations. Leavitt also played a key role in assisting congressional Republicans’ highly politicized investigation targeting Hillary Clinton in the midst of the 2016 presidential election. When the FBI determined that charges should not be filed against Clinton, Leavitt referred to the bureau’s decision as a “failure”.
- Leavitt Trained Congressional Staffers at an Event Co-hosted by a Far-Right Organization Closely Tied to the MAGA Movement. Prior to joining Empower Oversight, Leavitt trained staffers who work for members of Congress on how to work with outside organizations. The event, which was held over three days in February, was co-hosted by the Conservative Partnership Institute, a far-right organization closely tied to former President Trump and the MAGA movement.
- Leavitt Is A Right-Wing Candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates. As of April 2023, Leavitt is also a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates. According to his campaign website, he is running as a “conservative Republican” on a “pro-faith, pro-family, pro-life, and pro-Second Amendment” platform.
Marcus Oryan Allen is a Staff Operations Specialist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who was suspended and had his security clearance revoked after the Bureau found he “espoused conspiratorial views […] which indicates support for the events of January 6th.’”
- The FBI Believed Allen’s Security Clearance Was a Risk. In December 2022, Allen filed a lawsuit claiming that his suspension violated his First Amendment rights, asserting that the FBI’s rules “regarding loyalty to the United States is overbroad.” The FBI called these claims “meritless,” pointing out that Allen’s complaint “identifie[d] no speech” that was being violated. The Bureau also noted that any speech tied to his alleged sympathy to the insurrection was outweighed by the government’s “long-recognized compelling interest in safeguarding sensitive national security information” and that his security clearance was a risk.
- Allen Is Represented By Judicial Watch, a Far Right Group Known for Espousing And Promoting Conspiracy Theories. Notably, Allen’s legal representation has a long history of sympathizing with the insurrection and backing Donald Trump. Allen is represented by Judicial Watch, a conservative group known for platforming pro-Trump conspiracy theories and partnering with the far-right. The group has spread false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, warned of attempts to “rig the 2024 election” against Trump, and condemned Trump’s recent indictment as a “hoax” and “bunk.” Judicial Watch also filed several lawsuits concerning the insurrection, heavily focusing on right-wing “martyr” Ashli Babbitt, who was killed during the attack. Further, Judicial Watch board member and Director of Investigations and Research Christopher Farrell has been listed on a membership roster for the Oath Keepers. Oath Keepers is an “antigovernment extremist” organization that played a prominent role in the insurrection, with over a dozen members charged with felonies committed in connection with January 6. Judicial Watch also has ties to conservative dark money “maestro” and Trump “confidant” Leonard Leo, best known for shifting federal courts to the right. CRC Advisors, a public relations firm that Leo co-founded and chaired, represented Judicial Watch’s Christopher Farrell as he responded to revelations about his reported Oath Keepers’ membership.
Stephen Friend is a former FBI special agent claiming to be an FBI “whistleblower,” despite failing to receive federal whistleblower protections. He is part of a group of former agents calling themselves “the suspendables” who were placed on leave after prioritizing right-wing conspiracies over the law of the land.
- The FBI Suspended Friend After He Refused To Participate In a Raid Against January 6 Insurrectionists. In September 2022, Steven Friend was suspended from the FBI after filing an official complaint, alleging that the “politicized” bureau was using “overzealous” January 6 investigations to “harass conservative Americans.” Following his complaint, Friend was stripped of his badge and escorted out of the office. He had already been declared absent without leave in August for refusing to participate in SWAT raids against insurrection suspects. Friend has a track record of trying to minimize the violence on Jan. 6 and allowing right-wing conspiracy theories to influence his approach to law enforcement. While he worked for the FBI, Friend engaged with Russian propaganda outlets and falsely claimed “some” who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 were “innocent.” Since his suspension, Friend has continued to spread blatant disinformation about the events of January 6, 2021, claiming that “there were no police officers killed on January 6, 2021” — despite five officers’ deaths being attributed to the violence that day.
- Trump Loyalists Have Paid, Advised, and Employed Stephen Friend Since His Suspension. Friend has a record of collaborating with Trump’s closest allies. He received payments and legal counsel, and even received a job, from a MAGA group affiliated with former senior Trump administration official Russ Vought. Kash Patel sent Friend $5,000 almost immediately after they connected in November 2022, and gave Friend a job at a far-right think tank. Friend has been celebrated in right-wing circles, especially among MAGA pundits, and is poised to release a book with an introduction and forward by two right-wing figures.
- Friend Has Been Aligned With QAnon Sympathizers and Far-Right Conspiracy Theories. Friend has a long record of supporting and uplifting right-wing conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon supporters to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a regular contributor to an exposé-style blog run by “an early and prominent promoter” of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Friend has also actively pursued other right-wing lies about school board meetings and suggested that COVID-19 vaccines were ineffective and that COVID public health restrictions were supposedly designed to engineer “societal changes.”
Garret O’Boyle is a former FBI special agent with far-right beliefs. After alleging misconduct at the FBI during his testimony to Jim Jordan’s MAGA subcommittee, he refused to elaborate on his claims and did not provide a suspension notice. As the New York Times reported, “nothing in Mr. O’Boyle’s testimony ‘suggests misconduct at the F.B.I.’”
- Garret O’Boyle’s Allegations About the FBI Are Based on Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories. In September 2022, O’Boyle filed a complaint alleging that the FBI was exaggerating the threat of domestic terrorism. Shortly after, he alleged that the FBI suspended him, claiming, “the FBI retaliated against me for being a whistleblower.” O’Boyle has long spread conspiracy theories about the FBI conspiring against conservatives. He alleged that the FBI instructed him to inflate the number of domestic terrorism cases and falsely claimed that the FBI did not investigate attacks against crisis pregnancy centers.
- O’Boyle Is A COVID Anti-Vaxxer Who Spread Lies About the Pandemic Response. O’Boyle is a prolific COVID vaccine conspiracy theorist, and once compared COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the Nazi regime. He signed onto a major federal lawsuit against the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees and once referred to a subset of vaccinated individuals involved in an FBI investigation as “blind sheep.”
- Garret O’Boyle Supports QAnon Influencers and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Far-Right Agenda. O’Boyle has supported and publicly engaged with an “early and prominent” QAnon influencer known as Tracy Diaz, who has been banned from Patreon, Facebook, and Twitter and is labeled as an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In February 2023, O’Boyle responded to a tweet praising fellow QAnon sympathizer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), writing, “She’s got something planned all right…”
- Garret O’Boyle Is An Election Denier and Insurrectionist Sympathizer. O’Boyle is a fervent election denier who has liked tweets claiming “two blatantly stolen elections.” He claims the FBI has retaliated against him for resisting investigations into the January 6 insurrection, writing: “the government has an obsession with ‘Insurrectionists.’ They hate them. They [want to] round them up, hold them in perpetuity.” O’Boyle labeled U.S. senators and representatives concerned about foreign election interference, “disinformation bots.” He has also mocked the significance of the insurrection, and disputed whether January 6 participants were domestic terrorists. O’Boyle also testified that he received financial support from Trump loyalist Kash Patel.