FBI Director Christopher Wray faced another grilling before lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Here are the highlights:
Zoe Lofgren Declares FBI Politicization A ‘Conspiracy’
California Democrat Congresswoman and former Trump impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren charged Republicans with “engaging in conspiracy theories” to delegitimize the FBI “without any evidence” with claims the agency is opposed to conservatives. Such a statement flies in the face of the recent 155-page court opinion from Missouri v. Biden that outlined a widespread censorship regime, the findings from the Twitter Files, and decades of misconduct in the nation’s premier federal law enforcement agency.
Lofgren can catch up on all the evidence she said doesn’t exist here.
Wray Calls Fed Involvement In J6 Riot ‘Ludicrous,’ Then Refuses Questions
“The notion that somehow the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was part of some operation orchestrated by FBI sources and agents is ludicrous,” Wray told Tennessee Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen.
California Republican Darrell Issa immediately pressed Wray for answers on FBI operations that day wherein undercover informants wherein the Justice Department deployed “national” forces out of the FBI installation at Quantico with “shoot to kill” authority.
“How many individuals were either FBI employees or people that the FBI had made contact with, were in the January 6th entry of the Capitol and surrounding area?” Issa asked.
“I really need to be careful here [when] talking about where we have or have not used confidential human sources,” Wray said.
It was far from the first time the FBI has denied explaining the agency’s use of undercover informants at the Capitol riot.
Massie Presses For Answers On J6 Pipe Bombs
Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie stepped up the pressure on Wray to give Congress answers over the agency’s effort to track down the suspected pipe bomber who left devices at both the RNC and DNC on Jan. 6.
In May, Reps. Massie and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, demanded an FBI briefing on the pipe bomb cases after a whistleblower revealed the agency identified the car used by the prime suspect but refused to track the vehicle down. Both bombs were reportedly inoperable, according to the whistleblower.
Wray sought to hide behind longstanding departmental policy not to comment on active investigations.
Massie reminded Wray that it’s been 900 days since the bombs were discovered.
Wray Held Russian-Infiltrated Surveillance Service As ‘Longstanding Partner’ In Censorship
Wray defended the FBI’s relationship with the Russian-infiltrated intelligence agency in Ukraine to censor American speech. The Security Service of Ukraine, Wray said, which has been notoriously compromised by the Kremlin, is a “longstanding good partner” of the FBI.
A new interim report from the House Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government out Monday revealed the FBI colluded with the Ukrainian agency to flag social media posts to Silicon Valley tech giants for censorship.
Wray Admits To Catholic Surveillance
While Democrats spent the hours-long hearing making excuses for decades of agency misconduct, the FBI director admitted to surveillance of Catholic parishes.
In February, former FBI Special Agent Kyle Seraphin revealed that “the FBI’s Richmond Division would like to protect Virginians from the threat of ‘white supremacy,’ which it believes has found a home within Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass.”
House Republicans followed up with a letter to Wray in April “We know the FBI, relying on information derived from at least one undercover employee, sought to use local religious organizations as ‘’new avenues for tripwire and source development.'”
“Do you think priests should be informants inside the church?” Jordan asked Wray at Wednesday’s hearing.
Wray conceded the FBI may have deployed resources to surveil Catholic parishes but maintained the episode in Richmond did not “result in any investigative action.”
Wray Admits FBI Sought Amerians’ Financial Records From Bank Of America
The FBI director said agency cooperation with American financial institutions to surveil U.S. citizens was routine practice.
An FBI whistleblower came forward earlier this year to reveal the FBI obtained a “huge list” of Americans’ financial records with transactions on credit or debit cards logged near the nation’s capitol around the time of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“George Hill, former FBI supervisory intelligence analyst in the Boston field office, told us that the Bank of America, with no legal process, gave to the FBI gun purchase records with no geographical boundaries for anybody that was a Bank of America customer. Is that true?” asked Rep. Massie.
“A number of business community partners all the time, including financial institutions, share information with us about possible criminal activity, and my understanding is that that’s fully lawful,” Wray said.
Wray Refuses To Condemn Armed Raid Of Pro-Life Activist
Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy pressed the FBI director over the agency’s armed raid and arrest of a Christian pro-life activist named Mark Houck last fall.
“I’m not going to second-guess the judgment of the career agents on the ground who made the determination,” Wray said.
“But your job is to second guess and look at what they’re doing,” Roy said.
Houck was ultimately acquitted of all charges in January.
Gaetz Accuses FBI Of Protecting The Bidens
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz accused the FBI of engaging in double standards of justice by protecting the Biden family. According to whistleblowers within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the FBI concealed critical records from federal tax investigators, including an unclassified FD-1023 form implicating the president and Hunter Biden in a multi-million-dollar bribery scheme with foreign actors.
“Are you protecting the Bidens?” Gaetz asked.
“Absolutely not,” Wray said.
Wray Won’t Say Whether DOJ Should Rescind Memo Targeting Concerned Parents
California Republican Congressman Kevin Kiley asked Wray whether the FBI director believed the Justice Department should rescind a memo directing staff to surveil concerned parents who show up at school board meetings.
In March, House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee published an interim staff report that concluded the Biden administration had “no legitimate basis” for deploying counterterrorism resources on parents.
“It appears, from these documents and the information received previously,” the report read, “that the Administration’s actions were a political offensive meant to quell swelling discord over controversial education curricula and unpopular school board decisions.”
“Should Attorney General Garland rescind that memo?” Kiley asked.
Wray deferred the question to the attorney general.
“I think the FBI conducted itself the way it should here,” Wray said.