WASHINGTON — Garret O’Boyle, an FBI agent who was presented in a public hearing by House Republicans as a whistleblower, was suspended by the bureau because internal investigators had concluded that he leaked sensitive investigative information to the right-wing group Project Veritas, according to a bureau official.
House Democrats now accuse O'Boyle of lying to the committee and are referring the matter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.
Lawmakers learned about the reason for O'Boyle's suspension, which was previously unreported, in testimony that Jennifer Moore, the FBI’s executive assistant director for human resources, provided to the House Judiciary Committee's Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Parts of her testimony are included in a letter top Democrats on the Judiciary and Weaponization panels wrote to Garland, alleging that O’Boyle lied to the committee about leaking information before he was suspended.
In the letter, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands, detail several instances when O'Boyle, in interviews with committee staff and in the panel’s public hearing, denied that he had leaked FBI information to the media.
O’Boyle testified that he made Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who chairs the Weaponization subcommittee, aware of his suspension and had provided him with the letter informing him of the FBI’s decision. O’Boyle described the charge as nothing more than an allegation and claimed that he never provided anyone outside the agency with nonpublic information before he was suspended.
Q: Okay. But you did speak to the media?
A: Not prior to being suspended, no.
Q: Okay. So your testimony is that you never spoke to the media, that it was entirely false, what was in the suspension notice that you were handed?
A: Correct.Transcript of WEAPONIZATION COMMITTEE staff interview with garret o'boyle
Democrats argue in their letter to Garland that Moore’s testimony directly contradicts O’Boyle’s claim. She provided the committee with several examples of when nonpublic information ended up in the public domain and explained how the internal investigation determined O’Boyle was responsible, according to their letter to Garland.
Moore pointed to an interview Project Veritas conducted with an anonymous subject referred to as an "FBI whistleblower." She said the agency was able to determine O’Boyle was that subject.
According to his suspension letter, which is included in the Democrats’ letter to Garland, O’Boyle was suspended by the FBI last Sept. 23. The interview in question was posted by Project Veritas on May 12 last year.
In addition to the interview, Moore said, the bureau's investigation revealed that O’Boyle had also removed sensitive information from FBI computers and provided it to Project Veritas without authorization. Some of the information shared with the right-wing site was part of an active criminal investigation, she told the committee. There was an urgency to locate who was leaking the information because of the risk it presented, she said, according to the letter.
“There was a level of urgency because of the identity of the individual, and it appeared that he was still accessing case files and information that he wasn’t authorized to have access to and disclosing it because we had seen information obviously in public forums,” she testified, according to the letter.
Nadler and Plaskett believe that the inconsistencies in O’Boyle’s statements constitute a crime. In their letter, they ask Garland to examine if O'Boyle is guilty of lying to Congress and perjury.
In response to the letter, a spokesperson for O’Boyle told NBC News that O’Boyle denies any claim that he lied about his suspension to the committee or that he leaked sensitive information to any media outlet.
Republicans pointed to a portion of the transcript that was not included in the Democrats’ letter. In that section, Moore declined to say if the bureau still believes O’Doyle was the subject of the Project Veritas interview, saying she could not discuss the investigation.
“Democrats are so desperate to distract from Justice Department wrongdoing that they’re willing to embarrass themselves with frivolous attacks on brave FBI whistleblowers,” Russell Dye, a spokesperson for the Weaponization subcommittee, said in a statement. “Garret O’Boyle is a proud veteran and experienced law-enforcement officer who has served our nation with honor and distinction. His only crime was speaking out about FBI abuses, and because he exercised his conscience, shameless Democrats now seek to smear his name.”
O'Boyle testified before the Weaponization subcommittee last month at a hearing focused on alleged anticonservative bias at the FBI. He testified alongside two other self-proclaimed FBI whistleblowers whose security clearances were suspended because their conduct in Jan. 6 cases brought into question their allegiance to the U.S., a bureau official wrote to Congress.
A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed receipt of Nadler and Plaskett’s letter but declined to comment. A spokesperson for Project Veritas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.