Why the FBI Raided an ABC News Producer’s Home

At a minute before 5 a.m. on April 27, ABC News’ James Gordon Meek fired off a tweet with a single word: “FACTS.” 

The network’s national-security investigative producer was responding to former CIA agent Marc Polymeropoulos’ take that the Ukrainian military — with assistance from the U.S. — was thriving against Russian forces. Polymeropoulos’ tweet — filled with acronyms indecipherable to the layperson, like “TTPs,” “UW,” and “EW” — was itself a reply to a missive from Washington Post Pentagon reporter Dan Lamothe, who noted the wealth of information the U.S. military had gathered about Russian ops by observing their combat strategy in real time.

The interchange illustrated the interplay between the national-security community and those who cover it. And no one straddled both worlds quite like Meek, an Emmy-winning deep-dive journalist who also was a former senior counterterrorism adviser and investigator for the House Homeland Security Committee. To his detractors within ABC, Meek was something of a “military fanboy.” But his track record of exclusives was undeniable, breaking the news of foiled terrorist plots in New York City and the Army’s coverup of the fratricidal death of Pfc.

Dave Sharrett II in Iraq, a bombshell that earned Meek a face-to-face meeting with President Obama. With nine years at ABC under his belt, a buzzy Hulu documentary poised for Emmy attention, and an upcoming book on the military’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the 52-year-old bear of a man seemed to be at the height of his powers and the pinnacle of his profession. 

Outside his Arlington, Virginia, apartment, a surreal scene was unfolding, and his storied career was about to come crashing down. Meek’s tweet marked the last time he’s posted on the social media platform.

The first thing Meek’s neighbor John Antonelli noticed that morning was the black utility vehicle with blacked out windows blocking traffic in both directions on Columbia Pike. It was just before dawn on that brisk April day, and self-described police-vehicle historian Antonelli was about to grab a coffee at a Starbucks before embarking on his daily three-mile walk. He inched closer to get a better vantage, when he saw an olive-green Lenco BearCat G2, an armored tactical vehicle often employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other law-enforcement agencies. A few Arlington County cruisers surrounded the jaw-dropping scene, but all of the other vehicles were unmarked, including the BearCat. Antonelli counted at least 10 heavily armed personnel in the group. None bore anything identifying which agency was conducting the raid. After just 10 minutes, the operation inside the Siena Park apartment complex — a six-story, upscale building for D.C. professionals, with rents fetching about $2,000 to $3,000 a month — was over.

“They didn’t stick around. They took off pretty quickly and headed west on Columbia Pike towards Fairfax County,” Antonelli recalls. “Most people seeing that green vehicle would think it’s some kind of tank. But I knew it was the Lenco BearCat. That vehicle is designed to be jumped out of so they can do a raid in that kind of time. It can return fire if they’re being fired upon.”

Multiple sources familiar with the matter say Meek was the target of an FBI raid at the Siena Park apartments, where he had been living on the top floor for more than a decade. An FBI representative told Rolling Stone its agents were present on the morning of April 27 “at the 2300 block of Columbia Pike, Arlington, Virginia, conducting court-authorized law-enforcement activity. The FBI cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation.”

Though the FBI declined to comment in the midst of the investigation, the Department of Justice provided a statement. “While the department cannot speak to any specific case or activity, the Department strictly adheres to the Attorney General’s July 2021 memorandum prohibiting the use of compulsory process with regards to members of the news media acting within the scope of newsgathering activities,” the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs Dana Iverson said in a statement to Daily Beast’s Confider on Monday, Oct. 24.

Meek has been charged with no crime. But independent observers believe the raid is among the first — and quite possibly, the first — to be carried out on a journalist by the Biden administration. A federal magistrate judge in the Virginia Eastern District Court signed off on the search warrant the day before the raid. If the raid was for Meek’s records, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would have had to give her blessing; a new policy enacted last year prohibits federal prosecutors from seizing journalists’ documents. Any exception requires the deputy AG’s approval. (Gabe Rottman at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says, “To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a case [since January 2021].)

In the raid’s aftermath, Meek has made himself scarce. None of his Siena Park neighbors with whom Rolling Stone spoke have seen him since, with his apartment appearing to be vacant. Siena Park management declined to confirm that their longtime tenant was gone, citing “privacy policies.” Similarly, several ABC News colleagues — who are accustomed to unraveling mysteries and cracking investigative stories — tell Rolling Stone that they have no idea what happened to Meek.

“He fell off the face of the Earth,” says one. “And people asked, but no one knew the answer.”

An ABC representative tells Rolling Stone, “He resigned very abruptly and hasn’t worked for us for months.”

ABC News has not investigated the raid on their own ex-colleague even though network boss Kim Godwin had been briefed on the matter, according to Confider, and the network subsequently declined to answer several questions from Confider, instead saying via a statement: “He resigned very abruptly for personal reasons and hasn’t worked for us for months, and we don’t comment or report on speculation.”

Sources familiar with the matter say federal agents allegedly found classified information on Meek’s laptop during their raid. One investigative journalist who worked with Meek says it would be highly unusual for a reporter or producer to keep any classified information on a computer.

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