The memo sent via email to now FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate — first revealed by NBC News — is the latest ominous sign of increasing politicization of policing organizations that are supposed to enforce the law without partisan bias.
“There’s no good way to say it, so I’ll just be direct: from my first-hand and second-hand information from conversations since Jan. 6, there is, at best, a sizable percentage of the employee population that felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” the email reads.
The sender’s name has been redacted, which was part of a trove of documents released this week by the FBI in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The message is marked “external email” but may have been written by a current or former agent or official on a personal computer. The writer refers to a past FBI “unit” and talking with agents. Abbate, who was then associate deputy director of the bureau, personally responded to the writer with a thank you for sharing the information. The sender addressed Abbate by his first name.
In the message, the sender referred to an unnamed retired senior FBI analyst who had packed his Facebook page with “Stop the Steal” propaganda, referring to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election he lost was rigged.
The email noted that several agents insisted the violence at the Capitol was little different than Black Lives Matter protests. Still, Capitol rioters were being singled out because of “political correctness.”
Violence was far more significant at the Capitol riot that apparently involved a bid to disrupt the U.S. government. Nearly 900 people have been arrested and charged with crimes for involvement in the insurrection.
The writer recounted “literally” having to “explain” to a fellow agent the difference between “opportunists burning and looting during [Black Lives Matter] protests that stemmed [from] legitimate grievance to police brutality vs. an insurgent mob whose purpose was to the execution of democratic processes at the behest of a sitting president. One is a smattering of criminals; the other is an organized group of domestic terrorists,” the message added.
The divide on law and order enforcement — often impacted by racism — is so pronounced in the bureau that the email author claimed Black agents were afraid to join SWAT teams for fear their co-workers would not protect them.
The FBI has not commented on the email.
Michael German, a former FBI special agent and a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program at New York University, told USA Today that the email didn’t surprise him.
“It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t expect already,” he said. “But I think it’s important to substantiate the suspicions me and many other people had. They clearly are on notice about a much more serious problem within the FBI.”
A source involved in the Jan. 6 investigation agreed in an interview with NBC News that “there are definitely varying degrees of enthusiasm from agents across the country” to cracking down on the rioters.
The source added it was “disappointing” to see a “lackluster response” in the investigation from some special agents — but also noted that many at the FBI diligently did their jobs regardless of politics.
Agents have successfully gathered a tremendous amount of evidence to bring rioters to justice.
Ironically, the FBI has also come under fire, especially from Republicans, for enforcing the law. Trump blasted the bureau as seditious, abusive, criminal and “sleazy” after agents in August hauled out several boxes of White House material, including classified and top secret information, from his Mar-a-Lago resort and home.