“I’m not aware of any investigation that specifically deals with this, but we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of investigations related to January 6, involving many different elements,” Wray told the Judicial Committee of the House in response to a question from Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who reiterated various statements made by Trump before the attack on the United States Capitol, asking the FBI Director if “the actions, the words, the deeds of Trump that day ”were seen as a contributing factor to the violence.
This was part of a series of aggressive questions from the Democrats on the committee who tried to pin down the attack on the former president, while suggesting that the FBI did not take seriously the threat of white supremacy that was highlighted as new arrests are announced. .
President Jerry Nadler set the tone for the hearing in his opening remarks, focusing on what the FBI knew about the threat before the January 6 attack, which resulted in the deaths of five people, more than 100 officers police injured and millions of dollars. in damages to the Capitol.
“This attack is still with us, Director Wray. The threat persists and we need your help to do the math work with it, ”the New York Democrat said. “To begin with, we need to understand what the office knew before the attack, when it knew it, and what kept it from disrupting the work of the terrorists who planned it, because we know that the attack was not spontaneous. Event. “
Those charged include members of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other far-right organizations. More than a dozen Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy in connection with the riot.
Wray said the FBI “does not and should not control ideology” or “investigate groups or individuals based on the performance of any activity protected by the First Amendment.”
“But when we encounter violence and threats to public safety, the FBI will not hesitate to take appropriate action,” he said.
Wray said his “biggest concern” was the increase in violence across the country, adding that the FBI launched more hate crime investigations this fiscal year than in the past five years.
But Nadler has targeted the office, saying the FBI has “played down” the threat of white supremacy for too long. The FBI, he said, has “lumped together a wide range of activities under the term racially motivated violent extremism, as if there is some kind of equivalence between black and brown activists marching for justice.” and right-wing extremists who attack Capitol Police and try to hang Mike Pence. “
Democratic Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, an activist since the police murder of Michael Brown in 2014, said she knew firsthand that the FBI was using investigative materials such as surveillance planes to monitor related protests to racial justice.
“The Bureau has a white supremacist issue in its ranks. The choice not to pursue white supremacist violence like what we saw on January 6 is not because the office does not have the resources or the discretion to do so, ”said Bush. “This is a blatant rejection of white supremacy as a threat. It is racist, it is unethical, it is unacceptable. “
Wray could not respond to Bush because the five minutes allotted to each member of Congress for asking questions had expired.
Democratic Representatives Veronica Escobar of Texas and Mondaire Jones of New York separately spoke to Wray about their concerns about possible threats to democracy, like the Trump theory he shared with his aides – reported for the first time by The New York Times – that he will be reinstated in August, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn appearing to support a Burmese-style coup in the United States in remarks captured on video. For months, QAnon and online forums supporting Trump have celebrated Myanmar’s deadly military coup and have suggested the same should happen in the United States so that Trump can be reinstated as president. Trump’s former national security adviser has said he does not approve of such a coup.
“In my role, I think I have to be careful to speak through our work and when the FBI Director speaks, I speak through our investigations and our intelligence products. And so I, I don’t think I should start to start meddling in public chatter or other people’s rhetoric, whatever that is, ”Wray replied to Jones’ inquiry. He gave a similar response to Escobar.