August 30, 2017
Former FBI Supervisory Agent Robyn Gritz remembers grueling days and long nights tracking terrorists, terror networks and searching for American hostages taken by enemy actors. Her 16-year career resume reads like a Tom Clancy spy novel, with the twist that it’s a female FBI agent taking the lead in some of America’s most public terrorism and national security cases.
But Gritz, who long considered the people she worked with family, said her life was turned upside down by senior FBI management when she moved up the ranks in the bureau. She was one of the bureau’s top intelligence analysts and terrorism experts but found herself in the crosshairs with some of the bureau’s top officials. One of those officials is current Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who served as acting FBI Director until he was replaced in July after the confirmation of Christopher Wray.
Five years later Gritz is still waiting for resolution.
In her first on-camera interview about her situation, she described relentless retaliation from her supervisors and alleges the last year of her employment left her physically ill.
In her formal complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission she alleges the “defamation of character through continued targeting by Andrew McCabe in official documents, and continuous patterns and instances of severe and excessive hostile behavior/attitude toward complainant.”
Neither the FBI or McCabe would comment for this story.
She was a rising star
Gritz, who joined the FBI in 1997, isn’t a household name but many of the cases she worked on were well known, like the kidnapping and death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran.
Early in her career and only days after the September 11 attacks, she was assigned with the task of investigating the terrorists who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. She was also part of the team investigating the 2001 Anthrax case. From 2009 to 2012 she was the Executive Strategy Unit chief for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.
Gritz worked her way to becoming one of the top counterterrorism agents in the bureau and was detailed to the CIA, where she was given commendations.
Documents obtained by Circa support Gritz’s claim of her outstanding work performance reviews, letters of commendation and awards for service.
“There’s a cancer there”
But Gritz said everything changed for her after she moved up the ranks.
The situation was unbearable, said Gritz, and eventually she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint [EEOC] in 2012, and an amended filing in 2014.
After filing the EEO complaint, Gritz alleges her supervisors and later McCabe retaliated against her. According to the complaint, Gritz says she only got to spend six months on detail with the CIA before being pulled back by her supervisors to the FBI.
“I just felt like this is total retaliation, only to find out that they had said they were pulling me from my position.” – Robyn Gritz
In June, a Circa investigation revealed that two weeks after Gritz filed her EEOC complaint, McCabe referred her for an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation for timecard irregularities.
Although the FBI claimed they had filed their OPR investigation prior to Gritz’s EEOC, McCabe’s own sworn testimony painted a much different picture. Gritz’s case, which is still pending, required McCabe to submit to a sworn statement. In his testimony he recounted a conversation on June 19, 2012 in which he authorized the OPR investigation of Gritz after one of his deputies told him she was about to file a complaint.
“What I get from reading the statements is that Mr. McCabe knew that I was either going to file it or filed my EEO,” said Gritz. “He still signed off on the document to refer me to OPR.”
In the FBI complaint against Gritz obtained by Circa, her supervisors called her “unstable,” questioned her work ethic and noted FBI time-card violations during her detail to the CIA.
Gritz, who is still in contact with many of her colleagues at the FBI, said some in leadership have “poisoned the 7th floor.”
“There’s a cancer there of a group of people,” Gritz said. “You’ve seen it with some of the recent reports of leaks, conflicts of interest, you see it in my case. The level of integrity is lacking. I have never seen or heard of the amount of conflicts of interest, or leading by fear.”
Russia, McCabe and Gritz’s defenders
Many senior U.S. government officials who had worked with her throughout her career defended her openly during her battle with the FBI and McCabe. One of her biggest supporters was President Trump’s former national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who then was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and offered to testify on Gritz behalf, as first reported by Circa.
Early this year, a highly classified leak revealing Flynn’s name and an apparent conversation with the former Russian ambassador prompted his removal from the White House and part of the FBI’s investigation into Russia. McCabe played a central role in the Russia investigation.
In June, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley, sent a letter after to the Justice Department raising questions regarding possible conflicts of interest with McCabe and the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.
“When I heard Michael Flynn was being brought under investigation, I wondered if they would go after him,” said Gritz, recalling the letter Flynn wrote on his Department of Defense stationary. “I still believe McCabe should have recused himself from the investigation into Flynn.”
But Flynn wasn’t her only supporter. Other top military officials also testified on behalf of Gritz, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. Keith Alexander and retired Navy Rear Admiral B. L. Losey, who served both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as the White House’s National Security Council Director for Combatting Terrorism. They all wrote letters on her behalf.
The FBI’s attorney attempted to block testimony from her supporters in 2014, memos obtained by Circa show.
“They couldn’t block the testimony,” said Gritz, who smiled as she recalled the judge reprimanding the FBI for trying to block the testimony.
She said when FBI agents requested to write letters on her behalf they were stopped by their supervisors.
“You could say my name, walking down the hall and if one of them hears it you’re in trouble,” she said, referencing McCabe and his close colleagues.
Investigations into McCabe continue
McCabe is under three separate federal inquires, to include the EEO complaint submitted by Gritz.
He is currently under investigation for possible Hatch Act violations with the Office of Special Counsel, the government’s main whistleblower agency, as reported by Circa in June.
The Hatch Act prohibits FBI employees from engaging “in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group.” McCabe appeared to be participating in his wife’s unsuccessful bid for Virginia State Senate in 2015, according to Gritz and documents obtained by Circa.
There is also an ongoing Justice Department Inspector General investigation that was prompted by Grassley, who alleged McCabe may not have properly disclosed the roughly $700,000 in campaign contributions to his Democratic wife on his ethics report and should recuse himself from the Clinton server case.
Gritz is hoping she will have resolution on her case soon but more importantly she said “I just want the bureau to get back to where it should be.”
As for McCabe, she said “I don’t feel that Andy McCabe was honest to me. The conflicts of interest many of agents see right away. A lot of agents, analysts, former, current, retired are appalled that if they did similar they would have already been fired or at least on leave without pay.”
Editor’s note: At the time of this news posting, Circa.com is down.