FBI Director Chris Wray appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday for an "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." While Director Wray was being questioned by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and later by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), the bureau's response to threats facing pro-life organizations, churches, and even U.S. Supreme Court justices, was addressed.
Sen. Mike Lee: "How many domestic terrorism investigations does the FBI currently have open under the category of abortion-related violence?"— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 4, 2022
Director Wray: "We have opened a number of domestic violent extremism investigations..." pic.twitter.com/kZ3KrXrUdo
When it comes to the targeting of pro-life organizations, pregnancy resource centers and churches, which Jane's Revenge has taken credit for, Sen. Lee asked Director Wray "how many domestic terrorism investigations does the FBI currently have open under the category of abortion-related violence extremism?"
Unfortunately, Director Wray did not have a specific response to provide for Sen. Lee on this question, or on other questions. "I don't have the exact number," he responded, "but I can tell you that we have opened a number of domestic violence extremism investigations using our joint terrorism task forces that are specifically, uh, focused on attacks or threats against churches, pro-life organizations, pregnancy resource centers, similar types of organizations."
Director Wray was able to offer an example of investigations in Iowa, Tennessee, and North Carolina, which Sen. Lee was pleased to hear about, though he is also looking for and awaits the FBI providing more statistics for him. The senator also awaits an answer on how many pro-abortion activists have been federally prosecuted when it comes to having violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) Act, as Director Wray was unable to provide an answer on that as well.
When asked if threat tags had been created associated with such attacks on pregnancy centers, pro-life organizations, and churches, was able to come up with somewhat of a more complete answer, that he's sure there are such threat tags, but he was unable to explain what exactly they were.
Dir. Wray on SCOTUS leak and threats of violence over political issues:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 4, 2022
"I don't care what side of the issue you're on, I don't care who you're upset with...you don't get to use violence or threats of violence to act on it. And we're going to go after that conduct aggressively." pic.twitter.com/PTTmg1kx1P
To his credit, Wray did take some time to double down on his opposition to violence and extremism, regardless of what side of the aisle someone is on or how they feel about the abortion issue, promising the FBI is "going to go after that conduct aggressively."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) immediately followed Sen. Lee, and began her time by engaging in whataboutism to remind how those who perform abortions have also been targeted, with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) later doing the same during her time for questions. Hirono even used her time to express outrage against the Texas Heartbeat Act which allows for citizen enforcement, or, as abortion advocates like Hirono claim, empowers "bounty hunters."
An even more intense exchange came during Sen. Cotton's questioning. When it comes to pro-abortion threats, even justices have been targeted, with Justice Samuel Alito having had to leave his home due to protests, and an individual being charged for attempting to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Cotton, during his time, pointed to how such protests led to that assassination plot.
The senator wasted no time in reminding Director Wray that it is a federal crime to picket or protest outside a judge's home to influence his or her decision. The Biden administration has been largely criticized for not properly handling such crimes, with polling showing the American people, including Democrats, are not on board with such a lack of a response. Further, the White House, through then White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki halving said they "encourage" such protests, so long as they remain peaceful. Karine Jean-Pierre, who currently holds that role, has been no better.
During the exchange, Cotton would also later remind Wray that the Supreme Court upheld the applicability and constitutionality of a much similar state law.
It's unfortunate, but not surprising, then, that Cotton revealed that on Wednesday "the head of the Department of the Justice criminal division confirmed that the Biden Justice Department has not brought a single case against any individual for breaking that law by protesting outside those justices' homes."
While Director Wray is aware of "a number of investigations" related to threats of violence against justices and judicial buildings, including the suspect in the assassination plot against Kavanaugh, he doesn't think any of them have used the law Sen. Cotton referred to.
The senator throughout the exchange emphasized that these protests were an "obvious violation" of that law, pointing out multiple times how they occurred on national television, which the senator believes ought to have been a "lay-up" for FBI agents to arrest them.
Director Wray was even more unhelpful than he was when answering Sen. Lee's question, appearing to suggest that arresting those who violated federal law to protest and picket at justices' homes was not a high priority for the bureau. Rather, Wray spoke to how they've worked with U.S. marshals and pointing to the Biden administration's Department of Justice which has been pretty much useless.
As Sen. Cotton aptly put it, he was "very disappointed that the Department of Justice and FBI didn't take these protests themselves seriously. As I said, they led to a Democratic hit man showing up and trying to assassinate a sitting Supreme Court justice."
Listing other examples, the senator stressed "these are serious and grave threats" and that "it is an obvious blackletter violation of the criminal law, and I hope if it happens again, the FBI will take it more seriously and start arresting them and charging them with the violation of this obvious crime."