As part of a gargantuan 1,050-page report detailing whistleblower findings from the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ), Republicans found that the FBI waited over a year to begin a comprehensive investigation into the pipe bombs that were planted in front of both major parties’ headquarters on Jan. 5, 2021.
In the Nov. 5 report, Republicans argued that the FBI and DOJ have undergone “weaponization” during the course of President Joe Biden’s first term in office.
Specifically, the report focuses on the Department of Justice (DOJ) under Attorney General Merrick Garland and the FBI under Director Christopher Wray (pdf).
Garland, Republicans said, has been “a willing participant of the Biden Administration’s weaponization of law enforcement.” The FBI too, Republicans assert, “has abused its law-enforcement authorities for apparently political purposes.”
Republicans listed a series of seemingly-partisan decisions and top-down efforts by Garland’s DOJ to mislead or deceive the American people.
For instance, the bombshell report found that the FBI has been incentivizing and pushing its field agents to classify certain crimes as incidents of domestic violence extremism (“DVEs”) even when the facts do not align with such a classification. Republicans contended that this is part of an effort to bolster Biden and other Democrats’ contested claims that right-wing DVEs are one of the greatest threats Americans face.
The report also noted a bizarre incident in which the FBI went a step further, and actually manufactured a DVE.
The event occurred in Michigan, where several men were arrested for a planned plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. At their trial, defense attorneys revealed that no less than 12 FBI assets had participated in and pushed the men toward the plot.
Republicans also cited Garland’s controversial Oct. 4, 2021 “school board memo,” in which he offered federal resources and guidance for municipalities seeking to punish parents voicing opposition to their children being taught radically left-wing ideas like critical race and gender theory.
Additionally, Judiciary Republicans cited Garland’s unprecedented authorization of a raid on President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Purportedly, Trump had taken classified documents from the White House that posed a national security threat. It was only after the midterms that the DOJ backtracked, and admitted that, contrary to their earlier allegations, Trump had no documents that posed any national security threat.
A deeper dive into the report reveals that the FBI and DOJ, while actively targeting conservatives, inexplicably dragged their feet in investigating pipe bombs that were planted by an unknown man ahead of the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally.
Specifically, security footage captured a still-unidentified man planting pipe bombs in front of both the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) buildings in Washington, on Jan. 5, 2021.
At one point, then-Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris was even in the DNC building, meaning her life was imminently at risk.
Still, Judiciary Republicans ruled, “The FBI appears to not be aggressively investigating pipe bombs placed by political party headquarters on January 6, 2021, while prioritizing other January 6, 2021-related investigations.”
Specifically, Republicans learned from a whistleblower that it took over one year for the FBI to mount a full-scale investigation into the pipe bombs.
According to the whistleblower, it was not until Feb. 7, 2022—more than a month and a year after the incident—that the Washington Field Office of the FBI asked its national field offices to investigate and try to identify the man.
In that directive, the FBI warned agents that the suspect’s “motive and ideology remain unknown.”
Speaking to The Epoch Times about the snail’s pace of the investigation, Ed Martin, an attorney for some Jan. 6 defendants, ruled “the judgment of the Department of Justice is clearly biased against certain types of people and certain types of conduct.”
“It appears that the executive branch, the law enforcement branch, has been operating to facilitate a political vision of the article one branch,” Martin said later.
He explained: “The Pelosi select committee [the House January 6 Committee] had a vision of what they wanted to highlight. The conduct of the executive branch, the law enforcement branch has not been to pursue truth and safety. It’s been to pursue the political agenda that’s been driven hand in glove with the select committee.”
Martin, who used to work with the RNC, said that he was pleased that Republicans were giving the issue attention but said that “what we need now is to get to the bottom of what happened.”
He added, “We need to know who said pipe bombs against the American leadership, right?”
“We are living with a bomber, who successfully planted bombs—didn’t go off, thankfully—and who has never been caught,” Martin emphasized. “Shouldn’t that be a worry?”
The FBI did not return a request for comment.
Possible FBI Involvement
The FBI’s slowness in investigating the pipe bombs comes amid a backdrop of suspicion that the FBI played a role in the events of Jan. 6.
Suspicion that the FBI was involved in the events of that day only ramped up after Jill Sanborn, the executive assistant director for the National Security Branch of the FBI, refused to disavow agency involvement at the rally.
During a Jan. 11, 2022, Senate hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned Sanborn about potential FBI involvement. These questions were met with deflection by Sanborn, who avoided giving a definitive answer to the yes or no questions posed by Cruz.
“How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of Jan. 6?” Cruz asked.
“So I’m sure you can appreciate that I can’t go into the specifics of sources and methods,” Sanborn replied.
“Did any FBI agents or confidential informants actively participate in the events of Jan. 6, yes or no?” Cruz asked.
“Sir, I can’t—I can’t answer that,” Sanborn said.
“Did any FBI agents or confidential informants commit crimes of violence on Jan. 6?” Cruz asked.
“I can’t answer that, sir,” Sanborn replied.
“Did any FBI agents or FBI informants actively encourage and incite crimes of violence on Jan. 6?”
“Sir, I can’t answer that.”
Questions about the FBI’s involvement have also been raised by the mystery of Ray Epps, a man who was caught on video on Jan. 5, 2021, encouraging protestors to go into the Capitol building the next day.
“Tomorrow, we need to get to into the Capitol,” Epps was caught saying. “Into the Capitol,” he reiterated.
Epps was immediately shouted down by cries of “Fed! Fed! Fed!,” common internet slang describing someone who works with federal law enforcement, particularly the FBI.
The next day, additional video caught Epps whispering into the ear of a protestor, who proceeded to begin tearing down one of the first barricades around the Capitol.
Initially, Epps was identified as the FBI’s number 16 most wanted person for their involvement in the events of Jan. 6, with the agency offering a cash reward for information that led to his arrest. But Epps was later mysteriously removed from the list—a fact that further attracted suspicion amid the largest manhunt in the history of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which saw dozens of nonviolent offenders who entered the Capitol rounded up.
“Ms. Sanborn, who is Ray Epps?” Cruz asked during the Jan. 11 hearing.
“I’m aware of the individual sir,” Sanborn said. “I don’t have the specific background on him.”
“Well, there are a lot of people who are understandably concerned about this,” Cruz said before describing the videos captured showing Epps attempting to incite violence.
“On the night of Jan. 5, 2021, Epps wandered around the crowd that had gathered, and there’s video out there of him chanting ‘Tomorrow, we need to get into the Capitol, into the Capitol.’
“This was strange behavior, so strange that the crowd began chanting, ‘Fed, fed, fed, fed, fed, fed.’
“Ms. Sanborn, was Ray Epps a fed?”
“Sir, I cannot answer that question,” Sanborn replied.
Cruz then cited the other incident caught on tape involving Epps.
“The next day, on Jan. 6, Mr. Epps was seen whispering to a person and five seconds later—five seconds after he’s whispering to a person—that same person begins to forcibly tear down the barricades,” Cruz said. “Did Mr. Epps urge them to tear down the barricades?”
“Sir, similar to the other answers, I cannot answer that,” Sanborn repeated.
Cruz noted that for a brief period, Epps was given a relatively high spot on the FBI’s wanted list before being “magically” removed.
The wanted ad “was posted and then sometime later, magically, Mr. Epps disappeared from the public posting,” Cruz said.
The role played by the FBI, as well as possible ties between Epps and federal law enforcement, are one of a plethora of questions left unanswered and unaddressed by the Jan. 6 panel.
FBI Denies Reported Delay
In an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, the FBI claimed that the reported delay in beginning a full investigation into the pipe bombs did not happen.
“The FBI immediately began an investigation into the devices discovered outside the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee,” the national FBI press office said. “There was no delay of any kind.”
The FBI said it had taken “a variety of steps,” including interviews, assessing tips, and analyzing video files. In addition, the agency said that it launched “an extensive investigative publicity campaign” to try to identify the unknown suspect that included a $100,000 reward.
Despite being no closer to identifying the unknown suspect than they were almost two years ago, the FBI said it “continues to aggressively investigate this matter.”
The FBI also said that it did not play a role in “instigat[ing] or orchestrat[ing]” the events of Jan. 6.
“[To] the extent that there’s a suggestion that the FBI’s confidential human sources or FBI employees in some way instigated or orchestrated January 6th, that’s categorically false,” the spokesperson said.
Still, the veracity of this claim remains dubious after Sanborn’s refusal to deny FBI involvement while speaking under threat of perjury.
“The FBI has testified to Congress and responded to letters from legislators on numerous occasions to provide an accurate accounting of how we do our work,” the spokesperson said. “The men and women of the FBI devote themselves to protecting the American people from terrorism, violent crime, cyber threats, and other dangers.
“Put quite simply: we follow the facts without regard for politics,” the agency insisted.
However, this too conflicts with reports by Republicans that the FBI and DOJ have given incomplete or unsatisfactory answers to a series of questions about its decisions over the past two years, including the Michigan plot, the school board memo, the raid on Mar-a-Lago, and others.
“While outside opinions and criticism often come with the job, we will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead, do things by the book, and speak through our work,” the FBI’s statement concluded.
Despite the FBI’s assurances that it takes finding the would-be pipe bomber seriously, nearly two years after the threat, the individual remains at large.
Notably, the spokesperson evaded questions about whether Ray Epps was an FBI asset.
Jan. 6 Defendants Face ‘Despicable’ Conditions
Even as the FBI and DOJ dragged their feet on looking into the pipe bombs, others who committed nonviolent crimes on Jan. 6 have faced “despicable” conditions, according to advocates for the defendants.
Following the breakdown of order at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the DOJ undertook one of the most extensive manhunts in DOJ history; even some of those protestors who did not enter the Capitol were rounded up and left to languish in a jail cell.
Though some of these defendants have managed to break free of what critics call the “D.C. Gulag”—the D.C. Metropolitan Jail, where many Jan. 6 defendants continue to be held—many more have been detained awaiting trial since their arrest.
“The slow pace of the pipe bombs investigation stands in contrast to other Department investigations and prosecutions related to the events of January 6, 2021,” Judiciary Republicans wrote in the report. “According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, as of October 6, 2022, it had arrested 880 people for January 6-related offenses, filed criminal charges against 272 defendants, and secured sentences for 280 defendants. There are also serious concerns about the pre-trial detention of January 6 defendants.”
Findings by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), one of the most outspoken advocates of Jan. 6 defendants, showed that these defendants have faced “nothing short of human rights violations,” Greene said.
Currently, some who entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6 are being held in the D.C. jail in conditions that Greene described as “unusually cruel.”
Greene listed a slew of examples of this treatment.
According to Greene, Jan. 6 prisoners held in the D.C. jail have been beaten by guards and prison staff, have been unable to speak with their attorneys, have been denied haircuts or razors to shave, and have not been given proper medical treatment when they needed it, among many other examples.
Greene noted another peculiarity of the Jan. 6 defendants: Usually, Greene says, members of Congress have no problem in gaining access to jails when they make the request. In this case, however, Deputy Warden Kathleen Landerkin denied Greene and her coalition access to the facilities on several occasions before finally allowing access to the representatives.
“In fact, [Landerkin] locked us out before,” said Greene, adding, “It’s clear that there was a lot to hide.”
Cynthia Hughes, founder of the Jan. 6 advocacy group called the Patriot Freedom Project, echoed Greene’s claims in an interview with The Epoch Times.
Hughes started the organization after her nephew Tim Hale-Cusanelli was arrested for a nonviolent offense in connection to the Capitol breach.
Her nephew and others, Hughes said, are “denied every basic human right.”
After entering the D.C. jail in January 2021, Hughes said, her nephew and other Jan. 6 defendants were held in solitary confinement and only allowed outside of their cells one hour per day.
Defendants still “don’t get to go outside, they don’t get to see the sun,” Hughes added. “I anticipate many will have serious health issues.”
“If you have a medical problem, you’re not seeing a doctor,” she continued. “Tim has had two very significant ear infections, so bad that it caused bleeding from the ear, and he never got to see a doctor. He got to see a nurse practitioner, and they flushed his ear out with peroxide and gave him some penicillin.
“He’s got significant hearing loss in both of his ears right now,” Hughes added.
Hughes described other conditions faced by detainees as well.
Until “very recently,” Hughes said, detainees who met with their lawyers were put into solitary confinement for two weeks, purportedly on grounds of COVID. However, Hughes judged that the measure was more intended to be punitive than anything.
Detainees have faced other indignities as well: “Lots of strip search, their cells get raided, they’re mocked, they’re spoken down to, you can’t mail packages [to detainees].”
She added, “I think the biggest thing of all that people should know: they’re denied religious services.”
Hughes said that she and her nephew are Catholic, a denomination of Christianity that places a great deal of emphasis on priests and rituals conducted by clergy, which has made the absence of any priest particularly difficult. But protestants, Muslims, and adherents of the Jewish faith have also been denied services, Hughes noted.
“Tim’s been in jail for 18 months and he hasn’t had any religious services,” Hughes said, noting that defendants had banded together to form their own religious services in the absence of any clergy.
“That’s very disturbing,” Hughes added.
Judiciary Republicans concluded the section of the report by opining that the slow pace of the pipe bombs investigation compared to other Jan. 6-related matters suggests “a disparity in how the FBI and Justice Department are pursuing January 6-related matters.”
“Compounding this appearance,” Republicans argued, is the serial failure by the FBI to answer questions and inquiries about these and other issues raised by Republicans.
At the same time that Republican inquiries went ignored, they noted, the FBI has been “providing information to the partisan Democrat-led Select Committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021.
“The FBI’s decision to provide information on a partisan basis is inconsistent with the FBI’s purported impartiality and further erodes public confidence in the FBI’s leadership.”
Concluding the subsection, Republicans said that given the FBI’s “enormous power,” the American people expect it “to fairly and evenhandedly enforce federal laws.”
They continued: “As this report documents, the FBI has abused its law-enforcement authority in several ways—violating the fundamental civil rights of American citizens and chilling their participation in the political process. The examples and incidents highlighted in this report are not exhaustive, but they are indicative of the degree to which the FBI—and by extension the Justice Department—have strayed from their apolitical law-enforcement mission.”
For partisan purposes, Republicans argued, Attorney General Garland and FBI Director Wray “have weaponized federal law enforcement to target the Administration’s political opponents and protect political allies. Instead of using its enormous law-enforcement capabilities to make America safer, the FBI is investing its limited time and resources to further a leftist political agenda.
“The American people deserve better, as do the many patriotic Americans who joined the Bureau to make America a better place,” the lawmakers wrote.
What Comes Next
Now that Republicans are on track to retake the lower chamber, the party will have wide-ranging authority to conduct investigations and issue subpoenas.
The pipe bombs are only one of a series of questions Republicans hope to investigate when the 118th Congress sits.
Republicans also have promised investigations into the role that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) appointed officials played in leaving the Capitol unprepared on Jan. 6.
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times that he considers the pipe bombs investigation a priority, and will push his colleagues to do the same.
“It has been almost two years, and we are no closer to knowing the identity of the January 5th pipe bomber,” Nehls said. “The FBI has shown corruption in the past, especially in the case of Donald Trump, so it is no surprise that no progress is made while defendants who entered the Capitol deteriorate in the D.C. gulag.
“With a Republican majority that has subpoena power, we will get to the bottom of it,” he vowed.
Others want to look into the ties between President Joe Biden, his son, and foreign business activities.
Republicans are also planning broad investigations into Garland’s handling of the DOJ, particularly his infamous school board memo. Several Republicans have called for Garland’s impeachment.
Some have also proposed investigations or even an effort to impeach Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has overseen unprecedented levels of illegal immigration along the southern border.
Amid all these efforts, it is unclear whether the pipe bombs investigation will be a key focus for the long-promised GOP investigation into the events of Jan. 6.