FBI Director Christopher Wray said the office viewed the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill as an act of “domestic terrorism” and suggested that “serious charges” were still pending as part of its criminal investigation. In progress.
Testifying before Congress on Thursday, the director lamented Donald Trump’s claims about a stolen presidential election. “We found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the election,” he told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee.
Wray’s testimony came as federal prosecutors accused six members of a right-wing militia of conspiring to storm the Capitol, the latest in a series of such charges dating back to Jan.6.
Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly grilled Wray, appointed by Trump in 2017, on what they called intelligence failures that left law enforcement ill-prepared for the deadly attack.
“The FBI’s inaction in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 is simply disconcerting,” said Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s hard to say whether the FBI Headquarters simply missed the evidence – which had been reported by your field offices and was available online for the whole world to see – or whether the office saw the intelligence, under – estimated the threat and simply did not act. ”
A Senate report recently concluded that the deadly insurgency was planned “for all to see” but warnings went unheeded due to a disturbing mix of poor communications, poor planning, faulty equipment. and lack of leadership.
Wray said that “almost none” of the 500 people accused so far of participating in the attack had been investigated by the FBI before, suggesting that it would have been difficult for the FBI to watch them in advance.
“You can be sure we’re going to take a close look at how we can do better, how we can do more, how we can do things differently in terms of collection and dissemination,” Wray said.
Charges against six men, all from California, on Thursday were disclosed in an indictment unsealed in federal court in Washington. Two of them, Alan Hostetter and Russell Taylor, were seen a day before the riot with Roger Stone, a friend and adviser to Trump, during a protest outside the United States Supreme Court against the outcome of the presidential election of 2020.
Around 30 people – including members of two other right-wing groups, the Oath Keepers and Tte Proud Boys – have been charged with conspiracy, the most serious charges linked to the riot. These pending cases are the largest and most complex of some 500 cases brought by the Department of Justice since the attack.
When asked if the FBI is investigating Trump or Stone, Wray said he could neither confirm nor deny any FBI investigation.
“I’m talking about Mr. Big, No 1,” Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen said, referring to Trump. “Did you attack the people who incited the riot?” “
Wray replied, “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to discuss whether or not we are investigating specific people or not. “
Wray also faced questions about the recent spate of ransomware attacks against large US companies. The FBI director told lawmakers the office discourages ransomware payments to hacking groups.
“It’s our policy, it’s our directive, of the FBI, that companies should not pay the ransom for a number of reasons,” Wray said.
Yet recently hacked companies, including Colonial Pipeline and JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company, have admitted paying hackers millions to regain control of their computer systems.
The Justice Department said it was able to recover the majority of the ransomware payment made by Colonial Pipeline after locating the virtual wallet used by the hackers.