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Staff director for 1/6 committee accused of retaliating against whistleblower

<i>Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/FILE</i><br/>David Buckley
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/FILE
David Buckley

By Ryan Nobles and Natasha Bertrand, CNN

David Buckley, the newly named staff director for the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, was found to be retaliating against a whistleblower during his time as the CIA inspector general, according to a report by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security.

Andrew Bakaj, a former special agent for the Office of the Inspector General of the CIA, accused Buckley of suspending the agent’s security clearance and placing the agent on administrative leave after he was accused of providing information and assistance to another investigation. Buckley had left the CIA by the time the report was issued. According to the report, he refused to be interviewed for the investigation.

The details of the 36-page report were originally reported by Yahoo News and confirmed to CNN by Bakaj’s attorney.

The report, dated June 10, 2019, goes on to say that the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s investigation “substantiated” some of the complainant’s allegations and confirmed that Buckley did open an “retaliatory” investigation into the agent that led to the discovery of separate derogatory information which was used to suspend the agent.

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The report recommends that Buckley’s security clearance be reviewed by the CIA. It is unclear if the CIA took the recommended action or what the status of Buckley’s security clearance is. The CIA declined to comment.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the House Select Committee confirmed that Buckley was a subject of the investigation but denied the allegations.

“Mr. Buckley raised this matter during the Staff Director interview process and denies taking any action against the complainant in retaliation for the employee’s claimed whistleblowing. In his role as CIA Inspector General, Mr. Buckley had no choice but to place the complainant on administrative leave after the CIA’s Office of Security suspended the employee’s clearance.”

Bakaj’s attorney, Mark Zaid, is also representing two of the four US Capitol Police officers who will testify at the first hearing Tuesday. Bakaj is also a part of that legal team, Zaid said. In a statement to CNN, he took issue with the Committee’s response to his client’s accusations against Buckley.

“We deplore the Committee’s incredibly insulting public comment describing Andrew’s protected disclosures against CIA officials as ‘claimed whistleblowing.’ Andrew is one of the leading attorneys in the United States in representing whistleblowers,” Zaid wrote. “He worked at both DoD and CIA OIG and helped write the CIA’s whistleblower policies. And he handled one of the most important and sensitive national security whistleblower cases of the 21st century. We expect better from the Committee and its leadership.”

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CNN’s Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Katie Bo Williams contributed to this report.

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