No evidence Capitol rioters belong to antifa movement, FBI chief Wray testifies

National News

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress Tuesday for the first time since the Jan. 6 deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In his testimony at the oversight hearing, Wray said the FBI views the storming of the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump as domestic terrorism, vowing to hold perpetrators accountable.

“I was appalled that you, our country’s elected leaders, were victimized right here in these very halls,” Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“That siege was criminal behavior, pure and simple. It’s behavior that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism.”

The Justice Department has charged more than 300 people on criminal counts ranging from conspiracy to attacking police and obstructing Congress. The rioting led to five deaths.

At least 18 people associated with the far-right Proud Boys have been charged and nine people tied to the anti-government militia known as the Oath Keepers are facing charges they conspired as far back as November to storm the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump have repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims the rioters were actually members of the antifa movement disguised as Trump supporters.

But Wray told lawmakers on Tuesday this narrative was false, adding: “We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re not looking and we’ll continue to look, but at the moment, we have not seen that.”

The FBI has yet to arrest any suspects in the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, or for pipe bombs that were discovered outside the headquarters of both the Republican and Democratic national committees.

The FBI has obtained a video that shows a suspect spraying bear spray on police officers, including Sicknick, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

The suspect has yet to be identified by name, and it is still unclear if the bear spray contributed to Sicknick’s death.

Wray said he cannot disclose a cause of death, and the investigation into his death continues.

In a newly unsealed search warrant, investigators say rioters carried weapons inside the Capitol including tire irons, sledge hammers, tasers, bear spray and, in at least one case, a handgun with an extended magazine.

“Everyone involved must take responsibility for their actions that day, including our former president,” the panel’s Ranking Republican Charles Grassley said.

“Now, in the wake of Jan. 6, we must seriously examine the threats of domestic extremism.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said the government has not done enough to protect against threats from far-right extremists and white supremacists, and accused the Trump administration for playing down those threats.

He added that the Trump administration “never set up a task force to combat the numerous incidents” from the far-right, and instead focused on Black Lives Matter activists. 

The violence at the Capitol made clear that a law enforcement agency that revolutionized itself after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to deal with international terrorism is now scrambling to address homegrown violence. The Biden administration has tasked his national intelligence director to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat.

The FBI is facing questions over how it handled intelligence in the days ahead of the riot, and whether warnings it had of potential violence reached the correct officials.

Last week, for instance, the acting chief of the Capitol Police said a Jan. 5 report from the FBI made its way to investigators within the police force and to the department’s intelligence unit but was never sent up the chain of command. The report warned about concerning online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington the following day. The FBI has said the report, which it says was based on uncorroborated information, was shared through its joint terrorism task force.

Wray said Tuesday that the Jan. 5 report hasn’t been released to the public in part due to ongoing investigations, calling the information “law enforcement-sensitive.” But he promised senators he’d look into releasing the documents.

Wray also revealed that since the attacks, the FBI has also seen instances of “foreign adversaries” who have been “leveraging the events of Jan. 6 to amplify their own narratives” and push propaganda.

He did not provide further details, saying he could not do so in an unclassified setting.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Reporting by Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch and AP’s Eric Tucker.

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