Republicans Slam FBI Director, Accuse Bureau of Misusing Spy Tool, Slow-Rolling Pipe Bomb Probe

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Appropriations subcommittee Comme
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

House Judiciary Committee Republicans grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray in a hearing Wednesday, raising issues they have long been investigating related to alleged civil liberties violations by the government.

The hearing, which typically occurs annually as part of congressional oversight, marked the first time Wray has testified since House Republicans took over, allowing them to publicly confront the director with their contentions that the bureau has unfairly targeted conservatives.

Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) opened his remarks by listing out a number of allegations and quoting findings from a recent and sweeping federal court opinion out of Louisiana that found “substantial evidence” of government censorship, including by the FBI, via social media companies.

“Here’s what’s truly unbelievable. Here’s what’s amazing,” Jordan said. “The Justice Department and the FBI want the taxpayers they censored, the parents they labeled, the Catholics they called radicals, they want them to pay for a new FBI headquarters and they want FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] reauthorization of the 702 form in its current form. … I mean you can’t make this stuff up.”

Jordan reiterated his plans to push this year for significant reforms to the FISA provision, which grants the FBI warrantless surveillance authority, and limit Department of Justice funding through Congress’s upcoming appropriations process.

Ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and other Democrats during the hearing repeatedly traced the GOP’s concerns back to former President Donald Trump, the top 2024 GOP candidate, and the multitude of legal charges Trump is facing, including alleged Espionage Act violations.

Nadler accused Republicans of having ulterior motives to “protect Donald Trump” and “to return him to the White House in the next election.”

Jordan at one point appealed to Democrats by noting that in addition to broad findings of FISA abuse, a court found the FBI had misused its FISA authority in 2020 against protesters of the left-wing group Black Lives Matter.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) showed new surveillance footage related to pipe bombs that the FBI says were found outside the Republican and Democratic National Committees on the day of the January 6 Capitol riot. Massie said the video indicated the bombs, which never detonated, were intended to cause the “maximum distraction” for law enforcement during the riot.

“It’s 900 days. You need to tell us what you found,” Massie said of the FBI’s probe into the matter.

Wray in that instance and throughout the hearing maintained the FBI’s longstanding policy that it does not speak about ongoing investigations.

“As you know this is a very active, ongoing investigation and there are some restrictions on that,” Wray said.


Wray during the hearing also defended the bureau, noting “the sheer breadth and impact of the work the FBI’s 38,000 employees are doing each and every day because the work … goes way beyond the one or two investigations that seem to capture all the headlines.”

He pointed to thousands of arrests of violent criminals in the past year and elaborate investigations of drug cartels and threats from the Chinese government.

Jordan and others have long said however that they are concerned with “top brass” at the FBI, like Wray and other senior officials, rather than the majority of agents.

The FBI has also drawn significant criticism from Republicans for its high-profile probe of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

In a fiery line of questioning, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) broached Congress’s parallel investigation into the Biden family’s foreign business dealings by reading a WhatsApp message allegedly from Hunter in which the younger Biden uses his father as leverage to demand money from a Chinese businessman.

Gaetz asked Wray, “Are you protecting the Bidens?”

“Absolutely not,” Wray replied.


House Committee on the Judiciary / YouTube

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) questioned Wray on the controversial confrontation of now-acquitted pro-life activist Mark Hauck at his home last year, which Wray defended.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a veteran oversight hawk, suggested in a social media post during the hearing that Wray was stonewalling him and his colleagues.

The hearing overall was largely a highlight reel of deeper behind-the-scenes investigations the committee and its Weaponization of the Federal Government Select Subcommittee are continuing to conduct.

The investigations have involved dozens of subpoenas for documents and depositions, witness testimonies behind-closed-doors, and interim reports of findings.

The committee plans to focus specifically on government censorship in an upcoming public hearing on July 20, and, as it did with Wray, will publicly question Attorney General Merrick Garland in September.

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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