FBI Director Chris Wray was brought before the House Oversight & Reform Committee on Tuesday for a second set of hearings on the events leading up to and during the January 6th Capitol riots.
At the end of the two-and-a-half hour hearings, Republican congressman Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona shredded FBI Director Wray over potential bureau involvement infiltrating extremist groups prior to the Capitol “insurrection”; he even submitted an explosive Revolver News article into the Congressional record on the issue. Gosar also grilled Wray on the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, although Wray was able to dodge answering the questions due to the Capitol Police being a secretive body under Congressional oversight and therefore shielded from public inquiry.
Watch the exchange between Gosar and Wray below:
“Director Wray, I would like to start by again asking for all the surveillance footage from January 6 and the proceeding days to be released to the public,” Gosar said. “I am told there are thousands of hours of footage. Now, Director Wray, yes or no, would you agree that the public has a right to know the truth, and that the information and footage should be made public?”
“Information we produce has to be done in coordination with the prosecutor,” Wray replied before Gosar pressed him for a straight answer.
“Respectfully, I don’t think it is a yes or no question… we have to be very careful to protect the integrity of the ongoing cases and there are… very specific rules,” Wray answered before Gosar reclaimed his time.
“Democratic members, and you just heard of Congress has made some outlandish allegations about reconnaissance tours and even filed ethics complaints against members including me, which was recently thrown out,” Gosar continued. “Mr. Wray, would you agree yes or no, that the video footage is often the best evidence documenting an event?”
“Video footage is often very useful information to document an event,” Wray responded.
“Thank you. Director Wray, do you believe that security footage of a public building of public officials paid for by public taxpayers potentially containing exculpatory evidence should be provided to public defenders?” Gosar asked.
“Well, I think what information is provided in public defenders in criminal cases should be done under the rules of discovery, which are spelled out and are more complicated than I could cover in the time that we have here,” Wray said.
“Thank you, I appreciate it,” Gosar replied. “Director Wray, switching points, can you confirm that no one inside the Capitol on January 6th was arrested for carrying or using a firearm?”
“So my understanding is that there has been at least one individual who was arrested for having a firearm inside the Capitol,” Wray said without being specific. “There are, I think, a small number of other cases, local cases on that, by that I mean…”
“Can you provide that information for us in written testimony, please?” Gosar asked, because it is currently understood that no protesters inside the Capitol building were armed with firearms.
“I’m happy to have my staff follow up with yours,” Wray replied.
“Director Wray, can you confirm that nobody arrested for the involvement in the January 6 riot has been charged with the crime of insurrection?” Gosar asked.
“Sir, I think I said in response to one of your colleagues, sitting here right now, I don’t believe there have been insurrection charges in any of the indictments so far,” Wray said. “But again, with 500 cases, I want to be sure…”
“I believe you’re right or I agree,” Gosar responded. “So now switching gears again. Director Wray, do you know who executed Ashley Babbitt?”
“No, I don’t know the name of the person who was involved in the Ashli Babbitt shooting,” Wray said before Gosar pressed him to agree if she was “unarmed.”
“No, I really can’t weigh in on the facts and the circumstances of that case,” Wray replied. “As you may know, that was investigated by the D.C. Metro’s Internal Affairs Department with the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney’s office, and the FBI was not the investigative agency.”
“Yeah, it’s disturbing,” Gosar commented. “The Capitol police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait, and he gave no warning before killing her. Question again, why hasn’t that officer that executed Ashli Babbitt been named when police officers around the country are routinely identified after a shooting?”
“I cannot comment on that case, it’s not one that we’ve been directly involved in, so I really can’t agree or disagree with your characterization,” Wray said.
“Sounds good,” Gosar said. “Do you approve of lethal force against unarmed citizens, particularly a 110-pound woman with no warning, no use of non-lethal force prior and while lying in wait?”
“Not going to try to answer a hypothetical, especially one based on a case that I just said…” Wray replied.
“That actually wasn’t a hypothetical,” Gosar responded. “That is actually what had happened.”
“I’m changing gears again, Director Wray, the FBI released several 30-second video clips of a suspected pipe bomber seeking the public’s help to identify him,” Gosar said. “Two of the video clips begin and end with the suspect already in the middle of the frame. You know how long the suspect pipe bomber was there and which way he exited, but you have withheld that information from the public. The FBI is in possession of the full tapes of the pipe bomb suspect and knows far more than the public about potential identifying details. You have begged the public’s help in identifying this pipe bomb suspect. You even offered a $100,000 reward. Why have you not released the full tapes if you truly intend to leverage the public’s help? Will you commit to releasing the full tapes to the public immediately?”
“No, sir, I can’t make that commitment,” Wray said. “I’m very careful about making sure that we protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, and when we share information with the public while asking for their help, it has to be done very thoughtfully with regard to both the solicitation for assistance as well as, again, the protection of the integrity of the ongoing investigation…”
“Well, I appreciate it,” Gosar said. “Well, what in conclusion, I again, urge the Capitol surveillance footage and the truth to be released in order to exonerate the innocent and provide justice and accountability for those who violate it. I would like to ask for unanimouis consent to enter into the record a report from a Revolver News regarding infiltration and incitement of the January 6 protest by federal officials without objection.”
While Speaker Pelosi calls for a bi-partisan commission, what is really needed is for Congressional members to ask the right questions of authority figures at public hearings. Congressional representatives can follow the lead of House members like Paul Gosar.