FOIA Update
June 21, 2024

Empower Oversight has submitted a new FOIA request seeking documents and communications from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI personnel about the law enforcement agency whistleblowers who testified to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Recent revelations suggest that government personnel privately coordinated with staff of a member of Congress to target whistleblowers who testified to the subcommittee.  Specifically, records show that on May 16, 2023, two days before the hearing, a staff member for Representative Daniel Goldman emailed the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) with the subject line, “Weaponization Hearing on Thursday.”  In that email, the staff member states that he has “a few questions about some of the witnesses.” Records further suggest that the staff member went on to speak with an OCA official on May 17.

In the week following the hearing, a follow-up email shows a Goldman staffer thanking an OCA official for providing information: “We spoke last week before the Weaponization hearing on Thursday. Thanks again for sending over those documents. They were very helpful to the Congressman.”

The Justice Department has not disclosed “those documents” that the FBI OCA official “sen[t] over” to Rep. Goldman’s staffer. However, if the documents included Privacy Act-protected information about any of the FBI whistleblowers and were not also produced to the majority staff, the FBI’s disclosure to Rep. Goldman’s office would constitute a violation of the Privacy Act.

Empower Oversight earlier made a FOIA request seeking information on potential collusion between DOJ personnel and members of Congress to retaliate against FBI whistleblowers. On May 18, 2023, Empower Oversight submitted a request to DOJ for records related to Ranking Member Nadler’s chief oversight counsel, including any communications she may have had about Empower Oversight clients while at DOJ—or with DOJ while at the House Judiciary Committee. To date, the FBI has neither produced responsive records nor certified that none exist.

A copy of the FOIA request can be found here.