It’s no secret that the United States has struggled with domestic terrorist violence. FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers last year that domestic terrorism was “metastasizing around the country,” as the number of cases soared.
But that’s not quite how one prominent House Republican sees it. The conservative Washington Times reported a few weeks ago that Rep. Jim Jordan claimed that whistleblowers have told him that FBI employees were pressured to reclassify crimes as domestic terrorism as part of some kind of political agenda intended to exaggerate the problem.
Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the FBI “pressured” agents to get cases into the domestic violent extremist category. “These whistleblower allegations that the FBI is padding its domestic violent extremist data cheapens actual examples of violent extremism,” Mr. Jordan said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The conservative Ohioan said he learned of the conspiracy by way of “multiple FBI employees from different field offices.”
Over the weekend, Jordan took a related message to Fox News, telling former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who’s now a host at the network, “Fourteen FBI agents have come to our office as whistleblowers, and they are good people. There are lots of good people in the FBI. It’s the top that is the problem. Some of these good agents are coming to us, telling us what is baloney, what’s going on — the political nature now of the Justice Department, God bless them for doing it.”
The Ohioan added, “It is becoming a well-worn trail of agents who say, ‘This has got to stop.’ And thank goodness for them.”
In other words, the GOP congressman is confident that his party’s condemnations of federal law enforcement are fair, thanks in part to secret sources within the bureau who have generously bolstered Republican talking points.
All of this, of course, leads to a few possibilities. Maybe there are real whistleblowers who are aware of actual wrongdoing at the FBI, and all of this will lead to consequential revelations about federal law enforcement.
Or maybe Jordan, whose track record as a serious lawmaker does not exist, has fallen for dubious claims from charlatans. Or perhaps he’s made all of this up out of whole cloth.
While we wait for answers on this front, let’s not forget that there is a process in place for FBI employees to report wrongdoing, including the option of reaching out to the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office. There is also a formal process in place for whistleblowers throughout the executive branch.
At this point, however, Jordan appears to be describing something more informal: A group of supposed FBI employees, we’re being asked to believe, quietly circumvented official channels, went to a relatively powerless member of the House minority, and confirmed his party’s conspiracy theories about federal law enforcement.
Presumably, Jordan will tell us more about these “whistleblowers” and their allegations in the future. Sometimes. In some forum. Maybe.
I’m not saying it’s impossible that the controversial congressman has learned important insights from reliable sources within the FBI, but at this point, it would appear some skepticism is in order.