Column

Retired Michigan FBI Agent: The DOJ and FBI Are Weaponized Against Crime and Conspiracies, Not Trump and His Followers

December 25, 2023, 11:45 PM

The writer, an FBI agent for 31 years, retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office in 2006. He is the author of "FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man."

By Greg Stejskal

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Ex-President Trump, FBI's Christopher Wray and AG Merrick Garland.

When I first heard that the Department of Justice and the FBI were being criticized because they were “weaponized,” I was puzzled. One definition of weaponized is: To make it possible to use something to attack a person or group. During my career in the FBI, we knew our primary mission was to fight crime, specifically to investigate and prosecute criminal violations of federal law. Implicit in this is that the DOJ/FBI are weaponized to fight crime.

The Department of Justice was established in 1870, in the early years of President Ulysses Grant’s administration. The DOJ came into being primarily to prosecute violations of the reconstruction statutes that Congress had passed to protect rights conferred by the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution to previously enslaved African Americans.

In the first year of DOJ’s existence, there were approximately 1,000 indictments and 550 convictions and in the second year, there were approximately 3,000 indictments and 600 convictions of the reconstruction statutes. Most of those prosecuted were members of the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK had come into being following the Civil War to prevent Blacks from exercising their rights, principally their right to vote. The intimidation was usually done at night by White men wearing masks, so called “night riders,” committing acts of terror including lynching.

The principal statute used in prosecutions was subtitled, “An act to enforce the provisions of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the US and for other purposes,” but became known as the KKK Act of 1871. The DOJ was initially “weaponized” against the KKK. (I don’t think anyone back then was saying there are good people on both sides.) Over the years, the DOJ/FBI have prioritized various categories of crime like organized crime, public corruption, international and domestic terrorism. In effect the DOJ/FBI were weaponized against those crimes.

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The author, retired FBI agent Greg Stejskal

In 2022, after the Republicans gained a majority in the House, a Weaponization of Government Subcommittee was formed, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan and predicated on a belief that the DOJ/FBI are now weaponized against Republicans, specifically former President Trump and anyone who was involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. That included all those involved in the insurrection at the Capital on January 6th.

No Proof

Although there have been accusations made by Jordan and other Republican members of the House regarding the weaponization of the DOJ/FBI, there has been no proof presented to substantiate those accusations. Marjorie Taylor Greene, among others, has been very critical of the FBI and has called for their defunding although she has been more tempered in her criticism since the Bureau arrested a man who made death threats against her.

In the months following January 6th, some Republican members of the house have claimed that the January 6th insurrection was orchestrated by the FBI as a “false flag” operation to entrap Trump supporters. There were several conspiracy theories propagated and supposedly substantiated by video of the insurrection showing FBI instigation/involvement in the insurrection. All those theories have been debunked.

To date the DOJ/FBI have charged 1,221 individuals for various offenses in connection with the January 6th insurrection and 728 have pleaded guilty. Another 120 have been convicted at trial. Two of the trials convicted leaders of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys of seditious conspiracy. (To best of my knowledge none of the people charged or convicted has used an entrapment defense. Many of the defendants have said they participated in the insurrection because they believed Trump told them to.)

The number of prosecutions and the amount of investigative resources involved in the investigation of the January 6th insurrection is extraordinary and is comparable to the prosecutions pursuant to the Klan Act brought by the DOJ soon after its inception in 1870. (Ironically, the fourth count of the January 6th indictment of Trump charges violations of the Klan Act.)

Former President Trump has referred to those charged and convicted in connection with the January 6th insurrection as patriots, and he has indicated that if he is reelected, he will pardon some or all of them. If past is prelude, Trump has already demonstrated that he is willing to use the power of the presidential pardon to shield those who are loyal to him from prosecution or incarceration as he did with several defendants convicted in connection with the Russian investigation. He was able to de-weaponize/disarm the DOJ/FBI using his power to pardon. He might even try to pardon himself.

Retribution

In March 2023, Trump said, “I am your warrior, I am your justice. And those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

If Trump were to be reelected in 2024, he has made it clear he will weaponize the DOJ/FBI to investigate and prosecute those who prosecuted him and those who have acted on his behalf to overturn the 2020 election. Trump has implied that he being prosecuted has “released the genie out of the box.” (Sort of a mixed metaphor, Aladdin meets Pandora.)

When presidential administrations change, new people are appointed to cabinet level positions - the Attorney General being one. Also, all the US Attorneys in all the districts in the US customarily submit their resignations. Most of them are replaced by the incoming president. The lower-level attorneys at DOJ and the assistant US attorneys in the districts are not political appointees and can stay. They have some job security under civil service regulations.

However, Trump has indicated he will try to remove government employees at all levels who are not politically aligned and loytal to him. Trump has said, he will “root out … the radical thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

As the convictions of those involved in the January 6th insurrection and the evidence summarized in the “January 6th” indictment of former president Trump show, neither the insurrection nor the efforts of Trump to overturn the 2020 election  are a hoax or a witch hunt. The DOJ/FBI weren’t weaponized against Trump or those who acted on his behalf, but they were weaponized against criminal conspiracies and an insurrection to overturn a legitimate election that President Biden won, and Trump lost.

The DOJ/FBI are the true warriors for justice who will continue to enforce the laws without fear or favor.

 



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