WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress for the first time since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and told a Senate Committee the attack was carried out by domestic terrorists.
“That attack, that siege, was criminal behavior plain and simple and it’s behavior that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism,” Wray said. “We at the FBI are determined to do our part to make sure that what happened on Jan. 6 doesn’t happen again.”
Wray defended the bureau’s handling of information about the threat of violence before the attack and rejected criticism from Capitol security officials who said the FBI didn’t do enough to communicate the warning.
Last week, the former U.S. Capitol Police Chief blamed a failure to adequately communicate the threat of violence for the unprepared response to the attack.
Wray said the FBI did in fact share information from a field office in Norfolk, Virginia the day before the insurrection by email, a verbal briefing and through a law enforcement portal.
“My understanding is that information was quickly, as within an hour, disseminated and communicated with our partners including Capitol Police, including Metro Police, in three different ways,” Wray said.
Senators grilled Wray about that warning.
“Why hasn’t the FBI produced the Jan. 5, 2021 Norfolk memo to Congress?” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked.
“That information is law enforcement sensitive,” Wray said. “I’m aware of the interest… and I can commit to you that I will get with my staff and see if we can make that available.”
Wray told Senators many of the suspected insurrectionists are associated with violent militia extremist groups or racially motivated groups.
He said there have been almost 300 arrests so far.
Democrats pressed Wray about misinformation about the suspects.
“Is there any evidence at all that it was organized or planned or carried out by groups like Antifa or Black Lives Matter?” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) asked.
“We have not seen any evidence to that effect,” Wray said.