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Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard took to Twitter on Saturday to call out the Biden administration for allegedly turning law enforcement agencies into a “political hit squad” that pursues their critics but turns a blind eye to their allies.
In the tweet, Gabbard pointed out that former White House official Steve Bannon — who served under former President Donald Trump — was found guilty of contempt of Congress while the Biden administration has not pursued any charges against former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan — who both served under former President Barack Obama.
She accused Clapper and Brennan of lying to Congress.
“Whatever you think of Bannon, the fact he was charged with contempt of Congress, but Clapper, Brennan & others who lied to Congress have never been charged, shows how the Biden admin / elite have shamelessly weaponized law enforcement into a political hit squad,” Gabbard tweeted.
Former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks at an “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX at Freedom Plaza on June 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
The Department of Justice charged Bannon with two counts of contempt of Congress on Friday after he ignored a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
He faces 30 days to a year in prison for each misdemeanor charge.
Gabbard’s comments come nearly a month after she made an appearance on “Jesse Watters Primetime,” where she suggested without going into detail that some Democrats were operating outside of the law.
Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaks with the media at the U.S. District Court in Washington, July 21, 2022. (Reuters/Michael A. McCoy)
“We need to stay within the bounds of the Constitution and the rule of law. I think the thing that I frankly have heard from some Democrats is an even more dangerous thing than that fear that you’re talking about, which is they feel like that they need to do whatever they need to do in order to save America,” Gabbard said on June 24. “And that is a dangerous mindset to have.”
She also compared the actions of Democrats to dictators who say and do what they need to stay in power.
“You look throughout history, just about every single dictator who does whatever they feel they need to do, they feel like their cause is just, and so when we have people in positions of power — yes, in government, but in other sectors of our society as well, who feel like they need to do all they can to save the country, to save the people, and yet they are defying our Constitution and undermining our democracy and ruining our country in the process,” she said. “This is what we need to protect ourselves and our country and our future from.”
Brennan and Clapper were initially accused of lying to Congress during a public hearing in March 2013, when they denied the NSA has a database that collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”
At the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked: “Last summer, the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americas. He replied, and I quote here. ‘The story that we have millions of hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.’”
“The reason I’m asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don’t really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question, does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions of hundreds of millions of Americans?” Wyden asked.
“No sir,” Clapper responded. “Not wittingly.” Brennan similarly denied such a program.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
Three months later, former NSA intelligence consultant Edward Snowden released classified documents proving otherwise — and the campaign for Clapper and Brennan to clarify their statements began.
In a letter to the Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, Clapper admitted to giving a “clearly erroneous” response that he was forced to “openly correct” because he “simply didn’t think” of the mass collection program.
During a speech at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, D.C. the following year, Brennan blamed the media for “mischaracterizations” of his statements.
At the same summit, Clapper said, “when I got accused of lying to Congress because of a mistake … I had to answer on the spot about a specific classified program in a general, unsecure setting,” MSNBC reported.
The accusation of lying is something neither intelligence official has been able to shake — but neither has been formally charged.
“I didn’t lie, I made a big mistake, and I just simply didn’t understand what I was being asked about,” Clapper said during an interview with CNN in 2019. “I thought of another surveillance program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, when I was being asked about Section 215 of the Patriot Act at the time, I just didn’t understand that.”
Former CIA director John Brennan, middle, and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, right, arrive at a closed hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee May 16, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The NSA did have a bulk metadata collection program at the time of Clapper and Brennan’s testimony, which the federal government authorized in response to the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001., it later said
Clapper also admitted the system existed in the same 2019 interview but said he considered the mass surveillance system a “safeguard or insurance policy.”
“This program was put in place as a direct result of 9/11, and the point was to be able to track quickly a foreign communicant talking to somebody in this country who may have been plotting a terrorist plot, and was put in place during the Bush administration for that reason,” Clapper said at the time. “I always regarded it as kind of a safeguard or insurance policy so that if the need came up you would have this to refer to.
Gabbard is a former U.S. House Representative from Hawaii and was a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.
Then-Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday Primary night on March 3, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Since retiring from the House in 2021, Gabbard has become an outspoken critic of the Biden administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.