‘Deep State mentality’: Secret Service, ICE secretly coordinated with FBI to strip gun rights, emails show
Story by Gabe Kaminsky
EXCLUSIVE — The Secret Service and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement secretly coordinated with the FBI to strip U.S. citizens of their rights to own, use, or even buy firearms, according to internal emails obtained by the Washington Examiner.
Behind closed doors and without congressional approval, the FBI has stripped gun rights from at least 23 people with internal forms, the Washington Examiner reported. However, Secret Service and ICE, two agencies under the Department of Homeland Security, have also quietly used these same forms, emails show.
The emails were first obtained by the firearms rights group Gun Owners of America amid its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI and shared with the Washington Examiner. They demonstrate a more widespread effort than was previously known by the federal government to use the forms, which the Daily Caller revealed in September had been presented between 2016 and 2019 by FBI agents to people at their homes in Maine, Michigan, and Massachusetts, as well as in other undisclosed locations.
Signatories were registered with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System and asked to declare that they were a “danger” to themselves or other people or lacking the “mental capacity adequately to contract” their lives. Many of the people targeted by the FBI in the past had reportedly made violent threats on social media, in chat rooms, and in person, internal records show.
“Good evening [redacted],” a Secret Service employee wrote to an FBI employee on March 30, 2018. “Attached is a NICS self-submission form for [redacted] (DOB: [redacted].”
“His USSS case number is 127-679-0044105,” the email continued, noting it was sent from a supervisory protective intelligence research specialist. “If you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you.”
The email was attached with a form intended to waive the gun rights of the signatory, records show. The Washington Examiner was unable to verify the date that the form was signed.
Separately, an email from June 4, 2018, also sheds light on the Secret Service’s usage of the form. A Secret Service employee wrote to an FBI employee: “Can you please enter [redacted] into NICS and advise me when it has been entered. Thank you.”
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) told the Washington Examiner he wants to know if more federal agencies have used the NICS forms. The congressman put forth a resolution in November, which Democrats rejected on Wednesday, that would request Attorney General Merrick Garland turn over documents in connection to the forms.
“It’s just really, really concerning,” said Clyde.
“Is Veterans Affairs using this form to try and get veterans to self-report and deny themselves their Second Amendment right?” he asked. “That needs to be discovered. We need to investigate that. In the majority, I think it becomes a valid question and a valid investigation, and I think we need to spotlight that.”
The other set of emails obtained by the Washington Examiner pertains to ICE, an agency tasked with protecting the border and stopping illegal immigration.
On March 26, 2019, an undisclosed ICE employee wrote to a NICS liaison specialist, “Please see attached signed form.”
In response, the specialist wrote back 10 minutes later, “Entered,” to which the ICE employee said, “Awesome!”
Ken Cuccinelli, who was a top DHS official under former President Donald Trump, told the Washington Examiner he finds it “shocking” that ICE appears to have used the FBI forms. This is because ICE and the FBI have different areas of focus, he said.
“It certainly suggests to me that a certain type of agent is talking across the federal spectrum,” said Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia. “They were doing it when they had to know their leadership would have opposed it. It really speaks to the rogue nature of the ‘Deep State’ mentality.”
The revelation that more agencies had involvement with the NICS forms comes after the Washington Examiner reported that the FBI stripped eight more people of their gun rights between March 2018 and April 2019. There has never been any indication that ICE used the forms. However, prior emails obtained by the Daily Caller indicated that the Secret Service obtained NICS forms from an FBI employee.
Those emails also indicated that the Social Security Administration had obtained NICS forms from an FBI employee.
It is unclear how the FBI identified all of the signatories, though some forms include investigative records detailing federal investigations. The FBI has claimed usage of the form was discontinued in 2019.
“It might not be surprising in the Biden administration, but it’s pretty obviously shocking under a Trump administration,” Cuccinelli said.
The existence of the signed forms leaves a variety of unanswered legal questions, according to Second Amendment attorneys. Notably, the document itself did not move through a process required under federal law for government agencies to receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget before obtaining information from the public.
House Republicans have told the Washington Examiner they will investigate the FBI over the NICS forms next Congress. In October, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and over a dozen members urged FBI Director Christopher Wray and Garland to provide evidence that the FBI is no longer using the forms.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is poised to become chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, said on Saturday that “nothing is off the table,” including subpoenas, in terms of investigating the FBI over the forms.
“We may need to figure out who OK’d this program,” Jordan told the Washington Examiner. “Who, in fact, were the agents going out actually implementing this program? Because we may need to talk to them to figure out how this all got started.”
“How did they decide which people to go after?” Jordan asked.
The FBI’s secret usage of the NICS forms has grown increasingly relevant in the halls of Congress. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and other members are looking to pass legislation granting a pathway for people to waive their gun rights and add themselves to the NICS database.
Jordan and other members, including Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, have said the legislative push is evidence that the FBI acted inappropriately. This is because it shows the bureau actually needed congressional approval to strip people’s gun rights with the forms, they say.
“What we’re looking at is evidence that the FBI went off on their own and wrote the bill and implemented the bill that you are trying to pass here today, or did pass, and will try to pass on the floor,” said Massie on Wednesday.
The Secret Service did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.