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Republican witness raises questions over whether he lied under oath to key panel
Republican witness raises questions over whether he lied under oath to key panel

A key witness of the Republicans is facing questions over whether he lied under oath about collecting financial support from an ally of ex US president Donald Trump.

An erstwhile FBI field agent turned purported whistleblower, Garret O’Boyle, testified last week to a congressional panel probing what Republicans assert is the “weaponisation” of the federal government against conservatives.

O’Boyle at one point, was asked by Democrat Dan Goldman whether Kash Patel, who held multiple positions in the Trump administration, is helping fund O’Boyle’s legal counsel. The witness replied: “Not that I’m aware of.”

His answer has raised eyebrows because, during a previous interview with the House of Representatives’ weaponisation subcommittee in February, O’Boyle revealed that his legal fees are being funded by a nonprofit organisation called Fight With Kash, also known as the Kash Foundation and run by Kash Patel.

Furthermore, a Democratic staff report published in March notes that Patel arranged for Jesse Binnall, who served as Trump’s top “election fraud” lawyer in 2020, to serve as counsel for O’Boyle. Binnall sits on the Kash Foundation’s board of directors and has acknowledged working on past lawsuits funded by the foundation.

In light of these details, Democrats are concerned that O’Boyle was not fully truthful before the committee chaired by Republican Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump backer. Lying to Congress carries a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment.

Goldman told the Guardian: “Mr O’Boyle’s answers in the subcommittee hearing on Thursday appear to contradict his previous testimony in the transcribed interview with subcommittee staff. In order to ensure witnesses are truthful when they come before the subcommittee, Chairman Jordan must determine whether or not Mr O’Boyle lied under oath on Thursday.”

O’Boyle was an FBI special agent from 2018 until earlier this year. He was among several former FBI employees who accused the bureau of politicisation at the hearing, which took place a day after the FBI announced that two of them had their security clearances revoked after either attending the January 6 insurrection or espousing conspiracy theories about the attack.

The Congressional Integrity Project, a watchdog monitoring the Republican investigations, had previously noted that the witnesses on Thursday included anti-vaxxers, election deniers and supporters of far-right groups.

Jordan and other Republicans on the committee hailed the ex-FBI employees as patriots who were facing retribution for speaking out against government abuse. Democrats dismissed the testimony, calling the hearing another partisan attempt by Republicans on the committee to help Trump.

Stacey Plaskett, who represents the US Virgin Islands, said: “This select committee is a clearinghouse for testing conspiracy theories for Donald Trump to use in his 2024 presidential campaign.”

In a series of contentious exchanges, Democrats complained that one of Thursday’s witnesses was only interviewed by Republican members of the committee. Many pointed to House rules that state minority and majority staff are required to have equal access to witness testimony, whether it is a whistleblower account or not.

O’Boyle’s testimony could pile pressure on Jordan over the credibility of the weaponisation subcommittee, seen by critics as a brazen attempt to damage Joe Biden ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Kyle Herrig, executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, said: “Mr O’Boyle’s testimony in this week’s hearing should be investigated immediately by Chairman Jordan’s subcommittee. The fact that O’Boyle’s own lawyer has such deep ties to Kash Patel, a January 6 co-conspirator and close ally of Donald Trump, is already enough to call any of his testimony into question.”

Jordan’s office denies that O’Boyle lied under oath. Russell Dye, a spokesperson for the chairman, said: “Yet again the Democrats distorted the facts in their report on our brave FBI whistleblowers. Jesse Binnall is representing Mr O’Boyle pro bono.”

Dye pointed to a transcript of O’Boyle’s interview in which Binnall sought to explain his role. Binnall told the subcommittee that “although Mr O’Boyle was not aware of this directly, his representation by counsel is actually not being paid by anybody because it’s pro bono”.

However, Democrats rejected this argument at the time. They wrote in their report that “O’Boyle’s own testimony concerning his interactions with Kash Patel undercuts Binnall’s apparent attempt to distance himself and his client from Patel.

“Committee Democrats note further that as recently as February 12 – two days after O’Boyle testified – Patel praised Binnall on Truth Social, calling him ‘Americas lawyer.’ Binnall and Patel appear to operate out of the same Alexandria, VA, office building.”


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