House Democrats stand accused of trying to undermine the reputation of whistleblowers in a bid to protect President Joe Biden and to shield the Justice Department and FBI, who allegedly hindered the investigation into the Biden family’s business activities. Republicans, however, are starting to push back.
Kash Patel, former Chief of Staff to the acting Secretary of Defense under President Trump and senior counsel for the House Intelligence Committee under then-Rep. Devin Nunes, instigated a counteroffensive on Wednesday. His attorney filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and simultaneously sent a referral to the Department of Justice.
Patel’s complaint claims that shortly after FBI whistleblowers Garret O’Boyle, Steve Friend, and Marcus Allen testified at the Subcommittee on Weaponization’s hearing on May 18, 2023, Goldman falsely accused them of being “bought and paid for” by Patel on his official Twitter account. This tweet, viewed by over 4 million users, implied that Patel was “under investigation by the DOJ for leaking classified information.”
These statements, according to Patel’s ethics complaint, violated House rules as well as potentially constituting federal crimes. Under Section 1519 of the federal criminal code, making false statements on a government Twitter account with intent to influence an investigation could be considered a criminal act.
When approached for comment by The Federalist, Patel labeled Goldman’s office’s reference to the Washington Post article as a “congressional cop out,” and “more lies through back peddling.” FBI whistleblower Steve Friend defended Patel, stating the accusations made by Goldman were baseless. He acknowledged receiving a $5,000 donation from Patel’s charitable organization to help his family during a time of financial difficulty, stressing there were no strings attached to this support.
Goldman’s office maintained that there was no implication of an illicit payout for the whistleblowers’ testimony, stating the “bought and paid for” Tweet was a reference to the whistleblowers’ testimony from the linked video.
In addition to the ethics complaint, Patel’s lawyer also sent a criminal referral to Attorney General Merrick Garland. This comes in light of a growing number of unjust attacks on whistleblowers. The House Ethics Committee might consider reprimanding Goldman for his tweet, while it remains unlikely the Department of Justice will intervene.
Such targeting was highlighted when House Democrats criticized whistleblowers during FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), wrongly accused whistleblower Marcus Allen of receiving a $250,000 payout, a statement that Allen’s attorney, Jason Foster, swiftly refuted.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) also attempted to discredit the whistleblowers, confusing the sources of financial aid given to them.
Patel blasted these attempts to defame whistleblowers, accusing the attackers of hiding behind baseless personal attacks. He noted the media’s role in propagating this “disinformation campaign.” The test now is whether the House Ethics Committee will take action against Goldman, thereby affirming that whistleblowers should not be used as political tools.