FBI reinstates security clearance for former employee who raised questions about Jan. 6 attack

A former FBI employee who raised questions about the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol had his security clearance reinstated and was awarded 27 months of backpay after being suspended since February 2022, his lawyer told CNN.

FBI staff operations specialist Marcus Allen had his security clearance suspended in 2022 when the FBI cited security concerns related to his “allegiance to the United States” in a letter previously shared with Congress.

Allen testified at a congressional hearing led by House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan last year after the bureau informed Congress it had revoked the security clearances of three agents who either attended the riot at the US Capitol or espoused alternate theories about the Capitol attack.

When explaining its initial decision to revoke Allen’s security clearance to Congress, the FBI wrote that its investigation showed Allen had “questionable judgment, unreliability, and unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations,” indicating that he could not properly safeguard classified or sensitive information.

The FBI listed a variety of reasons for suspending Allen in their letter, including a September 29, 2021, email in which Allen called on FBI officials to exercise “extreme caution and discretion in pursuit of any investigative inquiries or leads pertaining to the events of” January 6, according to a copy of the letter.

Allen testified during last year’s congressional hearing that he “played no part in the events of Jan. 6,” but alleged that he was retaliated against “because I forwarded information to my superiors and others that questioned the official narrative of the events of Jan. 6.”

The bureau reinstated Allen’s security clearance on May 31 after reaching a settlement agreement, Allen’s lawyer, Tristan Leavitt, told CNN. Allen then resigned from the bureau on Monday.

“This is total vindication for Marcus,” Leavitt, president of Empower Oversight, said in a statement. “The FBI has completely backed down and provided everything that we had asked for on behalf of Marcus. It’s clear from the evidence and the FBI’s capitulation there was absolutely no truth to their accusations.”

In response to his security clearance being reinstated, Allen stated, “it’s been a difficult couple of years, and I am truly grateful for my friends and family who helped us through this.”

In a statement provided to CNN, the FBI defended how the process was handled.

“While we can’t comment on the specifics of any settlement, both parties agreed to resolve this matter without either admitting wrongdoing. Any allegation that the Director lied to Congress is false. The FBI takes seriously its responsibility to FBI employees who make protected disclosures under whistleblower regulations, and we are committed to ensuring they are protected from retaliation,” the FBI said.

Jordan, who has used cases like Allen’s to raise allegations of discrimination and bias within the FBI, pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland during a congressional hearing on Tuesday whether Allen had been wrongfully retaliated against.

“I don’t know anything about the facts of that case. Retaliating against whistleblowers is against the law and it will be punished,” Garland testified.

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