Nearly 500 supporters of former President Donald Trump have now been charged with the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, and the number of arrests is rising, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday, dismissing allegations from Democratic lawmakers that the FBI is watching. failed in The attack is coming.
At the same time, Wray declined to say whether the FBI was responsible for allegedly inciting rioters to attack the Capitol in an attempt to obstruct Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election. Investigating colleagues.
Earlier this year, Trump was impeached for the second time. In this case, he was accused of inciting rebellion to deliver a fiery speech to supporters, marching to the Capitol, and urging him to “fight like hell” to prevent Biden’s election.
Although the Senate acquitted Trump on February 13, Democrats have long called on the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s conduct for possible criminal violations.
In his first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee since the attack, Ray denounced the January 6 riots as domestic terrorism, but refused to label it “rebellion”, as many Democrats have done. Ray made similar remarks during a March appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
More Arrests on Thursday
On January 6, nearly 800 Trump fans stormed the Capitol, killing five people, including a US Capitol police officer, and injuring several others.
Ray said the number of arrests related to the riots is certain to increase.
Indeed, of late, the Justice Department announced that six California men — four of whom identified as members of the right-wing Three Percentage Militia — had been arrested on charges related to the Capitol breach.
The men were charged with federal crimes including conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and unlawful entry into a restricted building or land. One was also charged with possessing a dangerous weapon.
Ray said that “almost none” of those arrested so far had previously been under investigation by the FBI. He dismissed suggestions that the FBI had failed to prevent him from traveling to Washington.
Most of the rioters arrested so far have faced trespassing and other petty charges.
But more than three dozen members of two far-right groups – the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys – have been charged with conspiracy and other crimes. Ray said the FBI is in the midst of making more serious allegations.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” Ray said. “There’s a lot more to come, and I expect to see more allegations, some more serious allegations.”
Threat missed, or underestimated?
Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, slammed the FBI for failing to anticipate the bloody and hour-long attack on the Capitol. “The attack was publicly planned,” he said, with Trump supporters openly sharing maps of the Capitol tunnels online and calling for a “break into” the Capitol.
“It is difficult to tell whether FBI Headquarters simply missed the evidence, or whether the Bureau saw intelligence, underestimated the threat and failed to act,” Nadler said.
At issue was a January 5 intelligence report by the FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia, office, which warned that pro-Trump extremists were preparing to travel to Washington and engage in violence.
Ray said the report was based on raw, unverified intelligence, but the bureau found it “relevant” that it quickly shared it with US Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies.
“The most important thing I would say is that we did not dismiss the Norfolk Situational Information Report,” Ray said. “Conversely, often when we find rubbish or raw information online, it takes us time to run through it and find out if it’s real.”
Ray’s testimony comes days after a bipartisan Senate report on the Capitol attack found that an intelligence breakdown contributed to the violent breach. According to the Senate report, neither the FBI nor the Department of Homeland Security issued an “assessment warning of a threat of potential violence targeting the Capitol on Jan. 6,” despite releasing more than a dozen reports about violent extremism throughout 2020. of.
Given its bipartisan nature, the report did not address the root causes of the riots, which Democrats have explicitly blamed on rhetoric about a stolen election following Trump’s electoral loss.
Wray said he was “not aware” of any of the investigations specifically examining the role of Trump’s rhetoric in the lead-up to the violence at the Capitol and how Trump and other officials reacted during the riots.
When pressed by Democratic Representative Steve Cohen about whether the FBI was investigating the former president’s activities on the day of the riots, Ray said, “I don’t think it would be fair for me to discuss whether we … are or not. persons.”