Prosecutors and FBI agents involved in the Hunter Biden investigation have been the target of threats and harassment from people who believe they have not been tough enough on the president’s son, according to administration officials and congressional testimony obtained by NBC News received exclusively.
It is part of a dramatic increase in threats against FBI agents that coincided with attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department by Republicans in Congress and former President Donald Trump, who accused both agencies of being involved in a conspiracy to subvert justice .
The threats prompted the FBI to create a separate unit to investigate and mitigate them, according to a previously unreleased transcript of testimony before Congress.
“We have created an entire threat unit to address the threats facing FBI employees’ facilities,” Jennifer L. Moore, then the FBI’s deputy human resources director, told the House Judiciary Committee in June. “It’s unprecedented. That’s a number we’ve never had before.”
“When it’s finished, there will be about 10 people,” she said. “We are currently still in the process of filling the staff. But their only daily job is to threaten FBI agents in facilities.”
Moore told lawmakers that threats against FBI agents and facilities more than doubled – more in the six months from October to March than in the previous 12 months. More recent data were not available; Officials say the pace of threats increased after the FBI investigation into Trump became public last summer and has not slowed since.
The FBI declined to comment.
Natalie Bara, president of the FBI Agents Association, a nonprofit group that advocates for current and retired agents, said in a statement: “FBI special agents and their families should never be threatened with violence, including for doing their jobs.” This is not a partisan or political issue. Calls for violence against law enforcement are unacceptable and should be condemned by all leaders.”
Federal prosecutor Lesley Wolf, who was part of U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ team investigating Hunter Biden, received such a barrage of credible threats that she requested security assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, according to previously unreleased testimony from an FBI official before the House of Representatives Justice Committee last week. Two IRS agents working in the case have accused Wolf of making decisions that appeared favorable to Biden. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Special counsel Jack Smith and his team have long been protected by an armed security detail, as has Robert Hur, the special counsel assigned to investigate classified documents found in President Joe Biden’s home and office.
An intelligence bulletin said last year that the FBI was investigating an unprecedented number of threats against agents and facilities following the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach, Florida, in August 2022. A few days after the search a man present at the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, shot after attempting to enter the FBI’s Cincinnati field office wearing body armor and carrying a rifle.
The FBI told House Judiciary Committee staff that Laura Dehmlow, who led the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force and was accused by Republicans in Congress of suppressing social media and news coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop, was the target of several threats , after her name was linked to the Biden story, according to two congressional officials.
A source familiar with the matter said some FBI employees had fallen victim to “swatting,” in which someone submitted a false report that resulted in armed police rushing to a home.
Last week, an FBI agent involved in the Hunter Biden investigation told the House Judiciary Committee that the threats had extended to the agents’ family members.
“Things have absolutely escalated toward their families,” Thomas Sobocinski, an FBI agent involved in the investigation, said in a transcribed interview that was widely distributed. “[T]The feeling of the employees and especially their families is: Yes, they feel threatened.”
In response, Ohio Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan told Sobocinski that the committee’s attorney, Bruce Castor, “faced the same thing” when defending Trump in the impeachment trial.
“There is no place for threats like that and things like that,” Jordan said.