Former FBI agent Steve Friend joined the agency in 2014, and after moving to Daytona Beach in 2021 to investigate crimes related to children, he was suddenly reassigned to the Joint Terrorism Taskforce. Friend joins Glenn to describe the series of events that eventually led him to not only leave the FBI, but to speak out against potential abuses within the department as well. The crux of his story begins with cases concerning the January 6th, 2021 riot, and one arrest warrant that he refused to take part in...
TranscriptBelow is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Steve Friend grew up in Savannah, Georgia.
He followed his father's footsteps, and attended the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a bachelor's in accounting. He worked in accounting for two years, before deciding he wanted to be in law enforcement.
He was a sworn police officer in Savannah and Kohler, Georgia, for four years. And then he joined the FBI in 2014.
He spent his first seven years in the FBI, investigating violent crime and major offenses, occurring on Indian reservations in northeast Nebraska. This included the Omaha nation. Winnebago tribe of Nebraska. And the Santee Sioux tribe. He was also a member of the FBI Omaha S.W.A.T. team for five years. He transferred to Daytona Beach in 2021. And began investigating child exploitation, human trafficking, and child sexual abuse.
He was reassigned to the joint terrorism task in October 21.
This is where his story really begins. Welcome to the program, Steve. Steve Friend.
STEVE: That a very much, Glenn. It's an honor.
GLENN: So, Steve, tell me what happened when you were reassigned to the joint terrorism task.
STEVE: Well, when they brought me over, they had to put me on the cases that they had already in existence.
And what I soon learned, was that the vast majority of those cases were tied to the January 6 incident of the Capitol.
And just in my habit, as an investigator coming from violent crime. And an environment where there's lots of cases coming rapidly. I just sort of looked through the cases, and wanted to take action on them.
What I came to learn though, they had done everything they expected to do. And were waiting to hear back from Washington. As to further action. Or what the status of the case was going to be.
Which to me, was a major departure for the FBI rules, for investigative work.
GLENN: So wait a minute. The work had already been done by Washington.
Why were you assigned it then?
STEVE: That was my question. Just being very familiar with the case. Management practices with the FBI. I know it happened in over 200 cases in my career.
When you look at a case, it's assigned to you, it's assigned to your office.
So when we had these January 6 cases, it seemed that those cases should be open from Washington, DC.
But if the decision was made to send them out to the field, then it occasionally it will sit with the office that it was with. In my case, it was Daytona, which is in the Jackson-Mobile office. And we ran that case the way we wanted to for further operative steps. However, it was clear a lot of the prework had been done in those cases from Washington, and they were giving directives to our offices, even though, we were on paper, the assigned case agents with our office of origin. Washington was really running the show, which was not a kosher move on our part from the FBI.
GLENN: Why would they do that?
I asked, I was told, that that had been raised early on. The response from headquarters, it was to get, quote, unquote, buy-in from the fields.
There's a couple of things that I can surmise from that. One is the FBI headquarters just have a really negative opinion of the investigators. They thought, if their name is not on it, they're not going to do a good job. Which to me just kind of rang hollow of your personnel.
So then I just did a little bit of critical thinking on it. And, you know, first of all, the January 6 incident, logically, is one incident. It should be one case. But instead, the FBI is elected to open a separate case for every single subject.
So right then and there, you have one case, that's been made into 800, 900, a thousand cases. So now you've upped the total bottom line number of domestic terrorism investigations, and then by spreading those cases to the field, you intentionally are carrying a narrative, that was pushed out in 2021, 2022 about this violent domestic terrorism around the country. When in reality, all those cases, are stemming from one incident.
On January 6, 2021, in 1 location.
GLENN: Okay. So you were suspended. Because you wouldn't do it. You were suspended without pay. Your gun, your badge. Everything was taken from you. And it's because you wouldn't -- what they say, is refusing a lawful arrest warrant, which demonstrated poor judgment. And emporium accessing the FBI's employee handbook, and refusing to attend the SAB. Tell me about this.
So I -- my first opportunity, really to take -- to engage in an arrest of a January 6 subject, that I had already decided. That should that come to pass, I was going to make that disclosure, to my supervisor.
So in the lead up to that, I -- I -- the week before, smoke to my immediate supervisor. Raised my concerns about improper case management practices.
And then also, just my concerns about how we were going to be arresting these subjects.
Because in my experience, and having arrested 150-plus violent criminals, never had to use a tactical team, a S.W.A.T. team to -- to bring them into custody, because I had talked to those individuals.
And we had done similar things with these January 6 subjects. So to me, seemed like honest unnecessary use of force.
Payment. I have S.W.A.T. experience to back that up. So I brought all this concern to them. They -- they passed it up the chain of command. My supervisor to the second level.
And, again, had more sitdown meetings with those -- with those guys. Voiced those concerns.
Even brought up FBI training, about abuse of power. That all agents have to go through, in the academy, where you go to the Holocaust Memorial and the MLK memorial. And you discuss, you know how those civil rights abuses, and atrocities can occur.
So raised all those concerns.
And they said, it was very clear to me, they were trying to divorce the two issues of me raising my concern, and then this said, it's separate from me, to refuse to participate.
And I contradicted that. I said my job is to defend the Constitution. I took an oath to uphold and defend it.
I think that we are violating due process. We're potentially violating some cruel and unusual punishment, just how we're bringing these guys into custody.
Even interviewing people who we never intend to prosecute is an abuse. So I have to default to my oath of office, that I think I am doing my job. They didn't agree with me. They said, that I had questionable judgment.
And was not executing a lawful warrant. That was one of the issues. When I got concerned about my future with the FBI, they multiple times told me, where do you see us, with us in the future?
In fact, my special agent in the future. Told me, I had to do some soul-searching. If I wanted to be an FBI agent. So I got an attorney. And he asked me to get him the employee handbook. And disciplinary procedures, because he just wanted to be equipped for me.
GLENN: Right. So that was the improperly accessing the employee handbook, giving it to your attorney?
STEVE: Yes. My employee's request. When I was eventually suspended. They said, what did you take? And I said, oh, that was the employee handbook. And they said, we need that back.
I said, I thought you guys could get the handbook.
GLENN: Right. Okay. Hang on just a second. When we come back, he's going to talk about the tools called Guardians.
And his concern how those tools are being used right now. To investigate US citizens.
Tools called Guardians. Oh, that sounds safe. More with Steve friend, next.
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(OUT AT 9:28AM)
GLENN: We're talking to a very brave FBI agent. I wish there were more of them. Where are you, local FBI agents?
Steve Friend is his name. He's an FBI whistle-blower. He objected to being part of the January 6th raids. For several reasons.
First of all, before I get to some other things. Can you tell me, you said earlier, that you thought it was cruel and inhumane treatment. I think you said. The way some of these prisoners are being handled. Can you tell me about anything, you know, about that?
STEVE: I can only speak what I've read about how folks are being held in jail, actually been taken into custody. My general concern was that the process being punishment for people who actually were never -- we never intended or were not able to charge. So just sitting down in front of them, stresses them out. Like to hire an attorney. The one individual that had participated in, with an interview.
He had lost his job. And was retaining an attorney.
And it was for walked in the Capitol. After the information at the police.
So what was the point of us going through that process?
GLENN: Right. You know it's amazing to me. You said, at one point, you -- you said that the process is the punishment.
And when you think of that, that is terrifying. Because that means, that even if they can't charge you, or you're not really guilty of anything, they're going to make this so horrible on you, that you just stay away from everything. You teach. You teach people a lesson. Stay away. Don't even get close to any of this.
STEVE: That's exactly right.
Even what happened to Michael flint, essentially how he became bankrupt, in order not to defend. Ultimately pled guilty to avoid his son being roped into it. That is the process, being the punishment.
GLENN: And the FBI designated the grassy area, outside the US Capitol as a restricted cell, after January 6th. And did they apply retroactively, to be able to look and say, well, you were in that restricted zone, on January 6th?
STEVE: That's my understanding, that they wanted to really send a message, gather more people up. And so they decided that the lawn on the Capitol, outside those four laws, will be deemed restricted. Because at some point, there would be some barricades. But just anecdotally, I heard individuals who were there on the 5th. They said, they felt their case about on the 6th, the morning of. They saw people were moving them.
So there's a little bit of action being involved with that.
GLENN: Tell me about guardians. The tools that they used to investigate. Called guardians.
STEVE: So guardian is a software system. I actually think of it as the 911 system in the FBI. You call 911, just cat in a tree, through the neighborhood. You can do that to the FBI. National center, those folks there, deal with probably 3,000 calls a day, or electronic communications. They kind of pull through it and disseminate them to appeal for proper investigative action.
So when it came to January 6th, there was a huge uptick in the amount of guardians that came into the FBI, and it was from all over the country. It could from a disgruntled neighbor, who didn't like his buddy, across the street, having a MAGA flag. It could be family member ratting out a family member. My uncle was where. He told me he was there.
So people that were trying to be helpful to the FBI, in pursuing this investigation. A lot of them just went to the FBI website, looked at pictures. And was saying, you know this unknown subject, looks like somebody went to high school with.
And those chips would come in. They would be pushed out to wherever the appropriate geographic location. So for me, I got one that was really the first interaction I had. They -- an anonymous tip from Rhode Island. That said, this individual was involved with the police officers, of the January 6 riot. They had done a lookup on this guy.
His phone that -- the GPS did not ping at the capital. The facial recognition, with his social media accounts, did not come with a positive match. But I was still the last to go. In an attempt to do an interview.
So it's not illegal for me to knock on anybody's door, and say, hey. I'm FBI. Do you want to talk to me?
It was just a concern.
Because even if he admitted to being at the Capitol.
There was no complaint. It would be very difficult to charge the case.
So still -- at that point, said, all right. I'll go knock on his door. Went to the place, about an hour, hour and a half. Knocked on the door.
Met a gentleman there, that I am with the FBI. We're looking at January 6th. Were you at the Capitol that day? And he looked at me and he said, no. That was the day of my son's funeral.
So I just made him relive that for experience, and give my business card. And was on my merry way. So that was my first Guardian that I had, on January 6th.
GLENN: Are you seeing an escalation of political targeting, at the FBI?
How concerned about all the things, that we're seeing with the face act now, the FBI coming in, in the middle of the night, and arresting 78-year-old people.
The idea that if you disagree, at the school board. You're somehow or another, a terrorist.
STEVE: Yeah. Definitely, there's a political element. I think there's two dueling things. There's politics, and there's ambition.
Sometimes, there's one, sometimes it's the other. And sometimes, there are some true leaders, definitely a special agent in charge.
(inaudible) of the political left, made no secret about that.
She sent out emails about the Dobbs decision, being -- the -- the Supreme Court taking away women's rights.
And the sort of gay pride flag, displayed up in her office in Jacksonville. Then you have my assistant special agent in charge, who I believe, is probably more ambitious.
Saw this as being a huge case of the FBI. Bigger than 9/11. And if you get your name on something with January 6th, and you can claim, you had supervising responsibilities of some way. The largest and most important case of the agency, that's going to be a pretty good ticket for you to promote with the media and the organization.
And I think just recently, with this face act. I've had a little experience with that. Being on human trafficking investigations. I reached out to some of the crisis centers, after the Jackson Dobbs case. Just because I was worried they would have some threats come in.
And I also figured, they might also see some human trafficking victims that could be a good resource for me.
Did that. Got a little helmet sticker from the bosses. But then was also told, I really need to prioritize looking into abortion clinics, because they were really going to be the ones that would be at risk.
STEVE: And I responded, I think the only time the team that wins does that, is like when the Lakers win the title, they burn the city. But otherwise, I don't think that the -- the pro-life side is going to burn down places that are going to be shut down.
GLENN: Right. Right.
STEVE: That's just my critical thinking.
GLENN: And last question, and I know I asked you this before.
But why are we seeing more FBI agents coming out?
We always thought that these guys were the best of the best. Conservatives have always given them a pass. Which I don't think we should have. But now they're showing themselves, to be I think less than honorable. If they're seeing things themselves, and are not standing up against it.
STEVE: I'm hardened by this, myself.
You know I told you, the other night. You know I really thought that I was going to have the Captain America end game moment, where I saw the battle. And even in my most dire situation, I would get that on your lap moment. And there would be my brother and sister in arms, standing there. And they just aren't.
I'm done talking about the good men and women at the FBI. I know that's the politically correct thing that all our leaders like to say to make sure the donations keep coming in. But I'm no longer doing that.
I think that, it's a really sweet gig to be an FBI agent. I lived it for eight years. Great job.
They're the most interesting person, maybe with the exception of radio show hosts. Everybody wants to answer questions, the big case.
And you can really get by on your career, being grossly overpaid and underworked, and focuses kind of -- play that same narrative. Where they say, I'm just trying to pay the bills and put food on the table. I'll keep my head down, and look at a few years to retirement.
But, you know, I swore an oath. And, you know, like I voiced to my bosses. I guess you guys found the one, that actually took their oath seriously. And I believed in it.
I -- that's why I wanted to do the job.
So this was a job. So I did the job. And it never occurred to me, that that was not -- that that was an option to not do that.
Unfortunately, I guess the other 14,000 agents, who -- who wore the gun and badge, don't share my sentiments.
GLENN: Well, we have all kinds of oversight if the Republicans gain the House.
It looks like they're going to at this point. And I know you're in touch with people on Capitol Hill.
And I hope we see more of you.
And I hope all of this comes to light. And we do clean up, this organization.
Or shut it down. If it won't be cleaned up. Then shut it down.
Steve, thank you so much.
STEVE: You bet, Glenn.
GLENN: Steve Friend. Former FBI agent. He has had quite a transformation. You'll see him, as he talks about some of the cases he has in front of you tomorrow.
It is a really, very important show. Because we don't know our Constitution.
You know, Mike Lee's son came with his wife. And Mike.
And we went out to dinner afterwards. And his son is actually -- I think he's clerking for the Supreme Court now.
And he said, you know when I -- I heard my dad was coming to this, I wanted to believe. He said, but so many places are just going to get you all riled up.
And then leave it there. And he said, I was so glad to see, the panel, and what you guys were doing. Because what we tried to do, is show you, what can happen to you.
And it is on the increase. We've never had to think about being an enemy of the state.
We never have been.
We believe in the Constitution.
How can we possibly be the enemy of the -- of the government. And the -- and the Constitution.
When we are calling for the use of the Constitution.
And you never have thought of yourself as a rebel. But now you are. Just for standing up.
You'll hear the story of a guy who lost his children, because he would not go along with call his son, who does not want to be called a girl. A girl.
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It's an introductory, really, on the Constitution. And how you should behave.
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That is overwhelming advice, from the experts. That's tomorrow night. Only on Blaze TV.
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