Category Archives: Deep State

FBI misled judge on Beverly Hills seizure warrant – Los Angeles Times

FBI is out of control. Totally taken by the anti-MAGA narrative. No longer beholden to the Constitution. Makes me ill. mrossol

Source: FBI misled judge on Beverly Hills seizure warrant – Los Angeles Times

The privacy invasion was vast when FBI agents drilled and pried their way into 1,400 safe-deposit boxes at the U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills.

They rummaged through personal belongings of a jazz saxophone player, an interior designer, a retired doctor, a flooring contractor, two Century City lawyers and hundreds of others.

Agents took photos and videos of pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms and a will, court records show. In one box, agents found cremated human remains.

Eighteen months later, newly unsealed court documents show that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles got their warrant for that raid by misleading the judge who approved it.

They omitted from their warrant request a central part of the FBI’s plan: Permanent confiscation of everything inside every box containing at least $5,000 in cash or goods, a senior FBI agent recently testified.

The FBI’s justification for the dragnet forfeiture was its presumption that hundreds of unknown box holders were all storing assets somehow tied to unknown crimes, court records show.



The FBI’s attempt to confiscate tens of millions of dollars from Beverly Hills safe deposit boxes draws resistance and charges of government misconduct.

Sept. 19, 2021

It took five days for scores of agents to fill their evidence bags with the bounty: More than $86 million in cash and a bonanza of gold, silver, rare coins, gem-studded jewelry and enough Rolex and Cartier watches to stock a boutique.

The U.S. attorney’s office has tried to block public disclosure of court papers that laid bare the government’s deception, but a judge rejected its request to keep them under seal.


The failure to disclose the confiscation plan in the warrant request came to light in FBI documents and depositions of agents in a class-action lawsuit by box holders who say the raid violated their rights.

FBI agents search safe-deposit boxes during at the U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills, shown in a video screen capture taken from U.S. District Court records.
(U.S. District Court)

The court filings also show that federal agents defied restrictions that U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim set in the warrant by searching through box holders’ belongings for evidence of crimes.



“The government did not know what was in those boxes, who owned them, or what, if anything, those people had done,” Robert Frommer, a lawyer who represents nearly 400 box holders in the class-action case, wrote in court papers.

“That’s why the warrant application did not even attempt to argue there was probable cause to seize and forfeit box renters’ property.”



After a two-year investigation that opened in 2019, leaders of the FBI’s Los Angeles office believed U.S. Private Vaults was a magnet for criminals hiding illicit proceeds in their boxes.



Customers of U.S. Private Vaults are suing the FBI over its attempt to confiscate gold and silver, jewelry and $86 million in cash from safe deposit boxes.

June 9, 2021

The business was charged with conspiracy to sell drugs and launder money.

The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office denied that they misled the judge or ignored his conditions, saying they had no obligation to tell him of the plan for indiscriminate confiscations on the blanket assumption that every customer was hiding crime-tainted assets.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the warrants were lawfully executed “based on allegations of widespread criminal wrongdoing.”



“At no time was a magistrate misled as to the probable cause used to obtain the warrants,” she said.

U.S. Private Vaults has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder drug money, and the investigation is continuing, she said.

The plaintiffs in the class-action suit have asked U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to declare the raid unconstitutional. If he grants the request, it could force the FBI to return millions of dollars to box holders whose assets it has tried to confiscate.



It could also spoil an unknown number of criminal investigations by blocking prosecutors from using any evidence or information acquired in the raid, including guns and drugs.

Until the FBI shut it down, U.S. Private Vaults was an easy-to-miss store in an Olympic Boulevard strip mall with a Supercuts hair salon and kosher vegan Thai restaurant.

Around 2015, it began attracting police attention. Local detectives and federal agents spotted drug suspects walking in and out.


U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills
The U.S. Private Vaults store in a strip mall on Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

FBI agent Lynne Zellhart, a former Sacramento attorney, first heard about it from a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. Customers, who could rent boxes without identifying themselves, entered the store’s vault with a biometric eye scan, the deputy told her.

The Sheriff’s Department suspected a customer was a criminal but was “having all kinds of problems getting into the box that they had a warrant for because of the nature of the business,” Zellhart testified in the class-action suit.



By 2019, federal and local law enforcement had managed to search more than a dozen boxes and seized about $5 million from five drug dealers, a bookie and a debit card thief.

The FBI opened an investigation of the business itself. Zellhart, who specializes in money laundering, said she thought it should be shut down. She joined forces with counterparts at the Drug Enforcement Administration and Postal Inspection Service.

Through surveillance, informants and undercover work, they surmised that U.S. Private Vaults and a precious-metals store next door were helping drug dealers launder cash by converting it into gold and silver they stashed in their boxes.



The feds suffer court setbacks in their effort to confiscate $86 million in cash seized from safe deposit boxes they were legally barred from searching.

July 27, 2021

Zellhart was tasked with spelling out the government’s case in an affidavit that took her more than six months to write. Prosecutors submitted it to Kim in a request for six warrants.

Five of them were for straightforward searches of the store and the homes of its owners and managers to gather evidence for prosecution of the company.



But the sixth — to seize the store’s business equipment for forfeiture — was highly unusual. The government wanted to take not just computers, money counters, video cameras and iris scanners, but also the “nests of safety deposit boxes and keys.”

The only way the FBI could seize the racks of boxes would be to take possession of the contents too. Any judge reviewing the warrant request would recognize a threat to the rights of what turned out to be about 700 customers who had locked away some of their most private and valuable belongings.

Box holders would liken the raid to police barging into a building’s 700 apartments and taking every tenant’s possessions when they have evidence of wrongdoing by nobody but the landlord.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to say whether the government had evidence of criminal activity by any specific box holders prior to the raid.

An FBI agent inspects gold coins taken from a safe-deposit box.
An FBI agent inspects the contents of a safe-deposit box during the raid of U.S. Private Vaults in this video screen-capture taken from U.S. District Court documents.
(U.S. District Court)



The 4th Amendment protects people against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It requires the government to get a warrant by showing in a sworn statement that it has probable cause to believe that a particular place needs to be searched and describing specific people or things to be seized.

In her affidavit, Zellhart made sweeping allegations of criminal wrongdoing by box holders, saying it would be “irrational” for anyone who wasn’t a lawbreaker to entrust the store with assets that a bank could better safeguard.

“Only those who wish to hide their wealth from the DEA, IRS, or creditors would” rent a box anonymously at U.S. Private Vaults, she wrote.



But the FBI’s evidence against customers was thin.

Agents had seen some of them pull up to the store in vehicles with Nevada, Ohio and Illinois license plates, Zellhart wrote.

“Based on my training and experience in money laundering investigations, Chicago, Illinois is a hub of both drug trafficking and money laundering,” she said. “I believe these patrons were using their USPV box to store drug proceeds.” She cited no facts to back up the suspicion.

Other customers were showing up in rental cars, and that too, she claimed, was a sign of drug dealers evading law enforcement. An owner of U.S. Private Vaults told a government witness that the store’s best customers were “bookies, prostitutes and weed guys,” Zellhart wrote.



Of all the box holders, Zellhart mentioned only nine, either identifying them by their initials or not at all. She said they were “linked” or “associated” with law enforcement investigations, but again provided no facts specifying criminal misconduct.

While the majority of customers seemed to be drug dealers, she wrote, U.S. Private Vaults tried “to attract a non-criminal clientele as well, so as not to be too obvious a haven for criminals.”

At Zellhart’s deposition, Frommer asked, “Was it your opinion that most of the people who rented safe-deposit boxes were criminals in some way?”



“I was expecting a lot of criminals,” she said. “I don’t know about most.”

Frommer reminded her of the language in her affidavit.

“I don’t sort of know how to answer your question as to whether it was all of them, it was most of them,” she responded. “I don’t — I don’t have a percentage.”

Attorney Robert Frommer with clients in a class-action lawsuit.
Attorney Robert Frommer, left, with his clients Jennifer Snitko, her husband Paul Snitko, far right, and Joseph Ruiz, who are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over the FBI raid of U.S. Private Vaults.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

On the affidavit’s 84th and 85th pages, Zellhart assured Kim the FBI would respect customers’ rights.

That section, she testified, was written by Andrew Brown, an assistant U.S. attorney and driving force of the investigation.

What Brown wrote contradicts the FBI’s plan for hundreds of box confiscations. He underlined the government’s lack of evidence to justify any criminal search of the customers’ property.


“The warrants authorize the seizure of the nests of the boxes themselves, not their contents,” his section of the affidavit said. “By seizing the nests of safety deposit boxes themselves, the government will necessarily end up with custody of what is inside those boxes initially.”

The affidavit told Kim that agents would “follow their written inventory policies” and “attempt to notify the lawful owners of the property stored in the boxes how to claim their property.”

Under FBI policy, it said, inspection of each box would “extend no further than necessary to determine ownership.” But agents’ inspection of the boxes went substantially further — just as the government planned, according to FBI records filed in court.

By the time Kim got the warrant request, the FBI had been preparing an enormous forfeiture operation for at least six months, according to Jessie Murray, the chief of the FBI’s asset forfeiture unit in Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2020, she testified, Matthew Moon, then one of the highest-ranking FBI agents in Los Angeles, asked her if her team “was capable of handling a possible large-scale seizure” of safe-deposit boxes at U.S. Private Vaults.


Murray told him yes. She recalled joining a conference call in late 2020 and another in early 2021 to plan forfeitures of the box contents with the U.S. attorney’s office, other federal and local agencies, and “maybe even our legal forfeiture unit at [FBI] headquarters in D.C.”

Zellhart and a colleague confirmed the grand scale of the planned forfeiture in a memo to fellow agents with detailed instructions for carrying out the raid.

The memo, approved by Moon and two other senior FBI managers, ordered agents to assign “CATS ID” numbers to “all cash” found in the boxes. The government uses the Consolidated Asset Tracking System to keep track of everything it seizes for forfeiture.



Murray testified that once she reviewed the final draft of Zellhart’s affidavit, it was clear to her that there was probable cause to seize and confiscate the contents of every box — as long as it met the $5,000 minimum set by the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Policy Manual.

Murray offered no explanation for why the FBI believed it had legal grounds to take away the assets of hundreds of unknown box holders based on their presumed ties to unknown crimes.

To confiscate an asset under U.S. forfeiture laws, the government must first have evidence that it was derived from criminal conduct or used to facilitate it.

Excerpt from the FBI's plan for the raid on U.S. Private Vaults.
This excerpt from the FBI’s plan for the raid on U.S. Private Vaults instructs agents to assign forfeiture identification numbers to “all cash” found in the safe-deposit boxes so the money could be permanently confiscated on the presumption it was linked to crime.

In a court filing in the class-action case, Brown and other prosecutors claimed the FBI had no obligation to tell Kim that it was “prepared to seek forfeiture” of property inside the boxes.

Agents “owe a duty of candor to courts,” they acknowledged, “but that is about known facts that have already occurred.”


They said the FBI did not need to tell Kim “how later actions, such as criminal investigations against boxholders or forfeiture of box contents, would play out.”

Kim was explicit in limiting the scope of the raid. “This warrant does not authorize a criminal search or seizure of the contents of the safety deposit boxes,” his warrant stated.

The judge gave the FBI permission to take inventory of the box contents to protect against theft accusations. He ordered agents to identify the owners and notify them that they could claim their property.


But by then, Zellhart and her colleague had already told agents in their memo to take notes on anything that suggests any of the cash “may be criminal proceeds,” such as whether it was bundled in rubber bands or smelled like marijuana.

The FBI also had dogs sniff all the cash for any odor of marijuana or other drugs, a step that was outside the bounds of the “written inventory policies” that the government vowed to follow.

Lyndon Versoza, a postal inspector who often has dogs check mail for drug investigations, testified that Zellhart or a DEA agent — he could not remember which — asked him to round up K-9 teams. He got dogs from the Glendale, El Monte, Chino and Los Angeles police departments to smell the money.


At his deposition, Versoza was asked whether a drug dog can help identify the owner of a pile of cash.

“No,” he responded.

What about protecting agents against accusations of theft? Frommer asked.

“No,” Versoza said.

Could a dog help justify forfeiture of the cash?

“It could,” Versoza replied.

Prosecutors have made extensive use of the dog alerts on cash — notoriously unreliable evidence in a state where marijuana is legal — to convince judges to approve confiscation of box holders’ money.

In the raid’s aftermath, the criminal case against U.S. Private Vaults sputtered to an end with nobody sent to prison.


The company went out of business. It was sentenced to pay a $1.1-million fine for laundering drug money, but prosecutors conceded it lacked the means to pay it.

Under a plea deal, the U.S. attorney’s office agreed not to prosecute the company’s owners, despite a Justice Department policy under Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland to hold individuals accountable for corporate wrongdoing — and despite Zellhart telling Kim it was “owned and managed by criminals.”

The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office rebuffed repeated Times requests for a full accounting of what was seized. They divulged neither how much the government has kept, nor how much it has returned.

Records from dozens of lawsuits stemming from the raid make clear, though, that it produced a windfall of tens of millions of dollars for the Justice Department. Local police departments that assisted in the raid have sought shares of the money, according to Murray.

Some of the government’s gains came from customers who abandoned their boxes. “There’s a good number of people who just said, ‘I don’t want it,’ ” Zellhart testified. “I think there was 20 or 30 of those.”

When the FBI vacated U.S. Private Vaults, it posted a notice in the store window inviting customers to claim their property. The FBI went on to investigate anyone who stepped forward, checking their bank records, state tax returns, DMV files and criminal histories, agents testified.

FBI sign taped on the window of the U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills.
A sign taped on the window of U.S. Private Vaults in Beverly Hills advises people whose valuables were seized by federal agents to contact the FBI to retrieve them.
(Joel Rubin / Los Angeles Times)


Lawyers for box holders denounced the process as a ploy to gather evidence for forfeitures and criminal investigations.

Zellhart testified that the FBI was just making sure it was returning things to rightful owners.

In all, the FBI ultimately returned at least some of the contents of about 430 of the 700 boxes, according to the government.


Many box holders have agreed to give up a portion of their cash and property after deciding it was not worth spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees — or more — to recover the rest.
Some of those, and many others, have faced baseless FBI accusations of criminal wrongdoing. In May 2021, the FBI claimed the contents of 369 boxes — including the $86 million in cash — were linked to crime and filed papers for confiscation through forfeiture.

It went on to return everything in about 180 of those boxes after failing to produce evidence to support the allegations, court documents show. Those box holders retrieved more than $27 million. Attorneys for other customers say they recovered close to $25 million more through private negotiations with the U.S. attorney’s office.

“This entire episode is a stain on the U.S. attorney’s office and on everyone who played a part in it,” said Benjamin Gluck, a lawyer for box holders.


Prosecutors have pressed ahead, filing more than 40 court complaints to confiscate millions of dollars from box holders who challenged the seizures.

In some of those cases, prosecutors cited no evidence that the money was tied to any specific crime, alleging simply that a dog smelled drug residue on the cash, or that it was bagged or wrapped in a way that aroused suspicion of drug trafficking.

In a few other cases, prosecutors and the FBI accused box holders by name of committing multiple felonies, offered no evidence to back up the allegations, and then gave back everything.



One of those customers was a glassware maker who kept more than $340,000 in cash and gold in his box.

In a court declaration, he said he rented the box in 2020 because it was a “disturbing and scary” time of social upheaval, and he distrusted banks.


The U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

“Protests and riots were the normal news, banks had been boarding up their windows, and emergency alerts were prompting people to stay indoors after curfew,” he wrote.

Prosecutors falsely accused the man of fraud, racketeering, conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering. FBI agent Madison MacDonald — who co-authored the raid plan — filed a sworn statement saying the allegations were true.

The complaint included no evidence the glassware maker had committed any of those crimes, but alleged he had “an extensive history of narcotic trafficking arrests and convictions.”

The man’s lawyer, Yael Tobi, castigated the prosecutors for exaggerating expunged misdemeanors, saying they intentionally omitted that he’d been arrested 16 years ago and was never convicted of a felony.

She called it “an egregious abuse of power.”

Spokespersons for both the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the case.

Prosecutors demanded that the glassmaker provide a sworn statement on when, why and from whom he received every dollar of the $340,000; the names of everyone who’d given him gifts since 2017; five years of tax returns for him and his wife, a doctor; and all of their bank and investment account numbers.

“Before proceeding too far down the road on this case, do you have a settlement offer to resolve this matter?” Assistant U.S. Atty. Victor Rodgers asked Tobi in an email six days later. “The government is prepared to be reasonable in connection with a resolution, and I think that an early settlement of this case would probably be beneficial to both parties.”

Tobi refused to cut a deal. She asked U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi to “put a stop to the government’s abuse and overreach” by dismissing the complaint.

On March 9, nearly a year after the FBI seized the man’s cash and gold, Scarsi ordered the government to give it back.


Putin’s Sudden Turning Point

There is plenty of evidence that the collective West is waging war against Russia/Putin. This was and is a bad idea. mrossol

Source: Putin’s Sudden Turning Point

September 23, 2022 Updated: September 24, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin finally abandoned hope in mid-September that he could rebuild a bridge to the West.

With that realization, he committed Russia to the new anti-Western pact.

The turning point was the signal Putin received from the United Kingdom over the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. It had little to do with the military setbacks in the Ukraine war, for which he had already begun planning.

Russia’s new, harder-line anti-Western policy was essential for building a new strategic bloc with China, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, and, de facto but integrally, NATO member Turkey.

This is the “new Warsaw Pact.” It signaled that the Russian bid to regain control of Central Asia—which Russia had controlled from the late 19th century until 1991—was now also in full swing. It also meant that the U.S. plan to revive the Iran nuclear deal was, in reality, dead.

Moscow has now walked away from any thought that it could negotiate with the two countries at the core of its problems: the United States and the United Kingdom. On its first day in office on Jan. 20, 2021, the Biden administration had already committed to an irrevocable policy of alienating—and possibly breaking up—Russia, so Putin’s hopes were probably always in vain.

Then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also committed fully to the Biden agenda toward Russia. Putin hoped that the incoming UK Prime Minister Liz Truss could soften the Johnson stance.

Significantly, Putin had pushed one final endeavor to open a strategic dialogue with the UK on Sept. 8. He sent a warm statement of condolence to the family of Queen Elizabeth II, who died that day, and paid unqualified tribute to the late queen. The communiqué implied a clear call for an equally humane response from the UK.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the public mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II with flowers and candles outside the British Consulate General in Hong Kong on Sept. 19, 2022. (Sung Pi-lung/The Epoch Times)

The desired British response did not come. Moreover, when the British Crown and government issued invitations to foreign heads-of-state to attend Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral on Sept. 19, Russia was explicitly excluded, one of the few states to be singled out. Even North Korea received an invitation, and China, albeit not at the head-of-state level.

Putin’s gesture had been rejected with venom. The UK would not be split from the United States in its strenuous proxy war through Ukraine, against Russia.

Within a week, Putin had clearly resigned himself to the reality that the future of Russia was never likely—in the foreseeable future—to include any degree of economic integration with the West. He then used the opportunity of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Sept. 15-16 to cement the new, anti-Western bloc, and with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to begin gradually prying India away from its close relationship with the United States and the Quad alliance (India, Japan, the United States, Australia), which had been designed to contain China.

By Sept. 15, when Putin met with Xi at the SCO summit, China and Russia significantly strengthened the interpretation of their mutual cooperation treaty, with the statement that both countries would support each other’s “core interests.” Beijing would support Moscow on Ukraine; Moscow would support Beijing on Taiwan. This was a major hardening of the new bloc and a sign that Russia would not compromise on its determination to retain its gains in Ukraine.

Teenagers cross a street in front of destroyed buildings amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the town of Borodianka, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, on Aug. 26, 2022. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Events surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war had already seen Russia pushed by the United States, and particularly the UK, into isolation that forced Moscow into an inevitable and growing interdependence on China. The ever-increasing political, economic, and resource costs of the Russia-Ukraine war have also meant that Putin faced hard choices and the prospect that the negative aspects of the war would soon have a significant impact on his governance.

On Sept. 15, Putin sent his own message back to the UK by causing Russian state TV to run movie footage allegedly showing a young Queen Elizabeth throwing food to “the children of the enslaved people in Africa,” and indicating that the queen was racist. The footage, however, was fake and filmed in French Indo-China by the famous Lumière brothers in 1899 or 1900, decades before the queen was even born. It actually showed a woman tossing coins to children.

It was meant to be the kind of reactive insult from which there was no going back. London got the point. It lost, without caring, a strategic opportunity.

On Sept. 21, Putin announced a partial military mobilization in Russia, reportedly activating 300,000 reserve troops for the Ukraine war. He said that he was not at this time considering introducing military conscription. At the same time, he committed extra funds to increase Russian defense-related production. Russian armor and aircraft producers had, in fact, been delivering significant new stocks of Su-35 fighters, T-90 main battle tanks, and other materiel in September.

Media reporting in the West, Ukraine, and Russia cannot be relied upon for a long-term view of events. History demonstrates that Russia, after accepting an adversary’s thrusts, regroups and relies on significant geographic, human, and resource depth to respond. Stalin, the ultimate Marxist-globalist, when facing the German Operation Barbarossa’s 3 million invading troops in 1941, fell back in disarray before appealing to “Russian” nationalism, abandoning the globalist Soviet ideology until Germany was defeated.

Russia has far greater strategic depth than Ukraine.

Xi, as he saw China under growing threat after 2012, has revived nationalism as a motivating force for the Chinese Communist Party.

History is the best intelligence.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gregory Copley


Gregory Copley is president of the International Strategic Studies Association based in Washington. Born in Australia, Copley is a Member of the Order of Australia, entrepreneur, writer, government adviser, and defense publication editor. His latest book is The New Total War of the 21st Century and the Trigger of the Fear Pandemic.

House Republicans Warn Ex-FBI Agent to Not Destroy Documents Related to Hunter Biden Investigation

Source: House Republicans Warn Ex-FBI Agent to Not Destroy Documents Related to Hunter Biden Investigation

By Frank Fang
September 25, 2022 Updated: September 26, 2022

Timothy Thibault, a former top FBI official who left the bureau last month, has been warned to not alter or destroy documents and communications in his possession, particularly those connected to his work on the Hunter Biden investigation.

The warning came from three Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who sent a Sept. 23 letter to Thibault, asking the former FBI agent to “preserve all existing and future records and materials” in his possession.

“Whistleblowers have come to Congress alleging that you were part of a scheme to undermine and discredit allegations of criminal wrongdoing by members of the Biden family. Accordingly, we believe that you possess information relating to our investigation and we request your assistance with our inquiry,” the letter reads.

The letter was signed by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the committee’s ranking Republican member; Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.); and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Before leaving the FBI, Thibault was an assistant special agent in charge at the bureau’s Washington Field Office.

Thibault came under close scrutiny in late July after FBI whistleblowers told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that the former FBI official “ordered closed” information that the bureau had obtained about Hunter Biden’s “criminal financial and related activity” in 2020.

Epoch Times Photo
Hunter Biden walks to Marine One on the Ellipse outside the White House on May 22, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Grassley has also noted (pdf) how Thibault had displayed a political bias against former President Donald Trump, citing his Twitter activities. For example, Thibault once shared a Twitter post that called Trump “a psychologically broken, embittered, and deeply unhappy man.”

However, Thibault’s lawyers with Morrison & Foerster told The Epoch Times in a statement in August that he didn’t show any political partisanship in his work and “did not supervise the investigation of Hunter Biden.”

“You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that are or may be responsive to this congressional inquiry,” the three lawmakers told Thibault in their letter.

House Republicans have said that they’ll launch an investigation into Hunter Biden if they regain a majority in the chamber in November. As a result, the letter suggests that Thibault would likely be a target of that investigation.

‘Domestic Violent Extremism’

Other documents and communications that Thibault needs to preserve are related to an allegation that he “pressured line agents to reclassify cases as ‘domestic violent extremism’ even though there was minimal, circumstantial evidence to support a reclassification,” the letter reads, citing a July report from Breitbart.

In a letter (pdf) to FBI Director Christopher Wray in July, Jordan said one of the FBI officials pressuring agents to reclassify cases was a “field office Counterterrorism Assistant Special Agent in Charge.” Jordan later told Breitbart that the unnamed agent in his letter was Thibault.

“Given the narrative pushed by the Biden Administration that domestic violent extremism is the ‘greatest threat’ facing our country, the revelation that the FBI may be artificially padding domestic terrorism data is scandalous,” Jordan’s letter to Wray reads.

It turns out that the FBI was inflating the number of these cases to make it seem as though the United States has a bigger “domestic violent extremism” than it actually does, Jordan said last week, basing the claim on another whistleblower. The new whistleblower also revealed that the FBI was redirecting resources away from child sexual abuse cases to Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach cases.

In their letter, the three Republican lawmakers are also requesting that Thibault take part in a transcribed interview. The former FBI official needs to schedule the interview by Oct. 7, according to the letter.

“We are investigating several allegations concerning the politicization of the Department [of Justice] and the FBI,” the letter reads, noting that Thibault’s testimony “is necessary to advance our oversight.”

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master’s degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

FBI SWAT Team Conducts Early-Morning Raid, Arrests Pro-Life Activist At Pennsylvania Home

The FBI is out of control. They have become very (not totally) politicized. The FBI is an ‘intelligence’ organization, not a policing one. And they are to be concerned about National threats, not local, which should be dealt with by local law enforcement. US Citizens need to stand (physically and verbally) against this kind of “totalitarian” action by the government. mrossol

Source: FBI SWAT Team Conducts Early-Morning Raid, Arrests Pro-Life Activist At Pennsylvania Home: Report | The Daily Wire
Nes/Getty Images

FBI agents reportedly raided the home of a pro-life activist in Pennsylvania on Friday and arrested him.

A group of between 25 and 30 FBI agents raided the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, home of pro-life activist Mark Houck early Friday morning, his family told LifeSite News. Houck is the leader of a nonprofit group that provides sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics in Philadelphia. The arrest seemed to stem from a court case that was dismissed by a federal court in Philadelphia, but was somehow picked up by the Department of Justice, his family said.

“The kids were all just screaming,” Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told LifeSite. “It was all just very scary and traumatic.”

Ryan-Marie Houck told the outlet that the group of agents in SWAT gear arrived in 15 vehicles outside the family home at around 7:05 a.m. Friday morning. The agents quickly surrounded the house and began pounding on the door, demanding they open up. Houck reportedly tried to get the agents to calm down, noting that his seven children were scared, but the agents kept shouting. “[T]hey had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house,” his wife said.

Houck and his wife asked the agents why they were there, to which the agents allegedly replied that they were there to arrest him. His wife asked for a warrant, but “they said that they were going to take him whether they had a warrant or not,” Ryan-Marie Houck recalled. She protested, saying that what the agents were doing was tantamount to kidnapping. Only then did they provide a copy of the warrant. Shortly afterward, Houck was apparently taken out and put into one of the vehicles.

But the FBI agents quickly softened once they realized the distress they had inflicted on the family, Houck’s wife recounted. “After they had taken Mark, and the kids were all screaming that he was their best friend, the [agents] kind of softened a bit,” she said. “I think they realized what was happening. Or maybe they actually looked at the warrant.”

“They looked pretty ashamed at what had just happened,” she added.

According to the warrant, shared by LifeSite reporter Patrick Delaney, Houck’s arrest stems from an indictment on charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, specifically for “attack[ing] a patient escort.”

According to his wife, Houck was providing sidewalk counseling at abortion centers in Philadelphia last year, and had taken his then 12-year-old son. On multiple occasions over weeks, a “pro-abortion protestor” allegedly shouted vulgarities and insults at the boy. Houck repeatedly told the protestor not to speak to his son, but the protestor continued to encroach on the boy’s personal space, still spewing vulgarities. Finally, Houck shoved the man away, causing him to fall down. The protestor was not injured, but tried to sue Houck. Though the case was thrown out this summer, it was somehow picked up by the DOJ, Ryan-Marie Houck said.

Conservative leaders slammed the FBI raid as another example of the political weaponization of the FBI.

“In case you hadn’t caught on already, the satanic Biden administration is waging war on Christians,” Daily Wire podcast host Michael Knowles tweeted, linking to the original report.

“This is a disgrace and should not be happening in America,” LifeSite co-founder and editor-in-chief John Henry Westen wrote on Twitter. “Pray for Mark Houck and his family.”

“So, a man who does nothing but run an org that teaches men to be strong Catholics and sidewalk counsels outside Planned Parenthoods had 30 armed federal agents sent to his house and is now facing jail time over an incident that resulted in a failed lawsuit,” conservative digital strategist Greg Price said.

“The FBI has turned into Biden’s secret police force,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) wrote. “Sending a small army of heavily armed agents to raid Mark Houck’s home should frighten EVERY American. The FBI using fear & intimidation tactics to go after conservatives needs to END!!”

“The continued weaponization of the FBI and persecution by Joe Biden’s DOJ against ordinary Americans is an outrage,” Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano said in a statement. “Citizens across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania join me in expressing our outrage at this early-morning raid executed on a young family. This show of force carried out by the Biden regime against ordinary Americans is an abuse of power that stands against the fundamental principles our nation was founded on.”