Amid bombshell revelations that the FBI embedded numerous informants in two militia groups accused of plotting to overthrow the government on January 6, FBI Director Christopher Wray finally is facing some heat.
During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Clay Higgins (R-La.) angrily demanded to know more details about the use of FBI informants related to the Capitol protest. Higgins twice asked Wray whether FBI informants disguised as Trump supporters were planted inside the building even before protesters gained entry.
When Wray offered his usual obfuscating tap dance about protecting sources and methods—“the suggestion that the FBI’s confidential human sources or FBI employees in some way instigated or orchestrated January 6th, that’s categorically false,” he indignantly insisted—Higgins called his bluff. “It should be a no!” he yelled when Wray wouldn’t give a straight answer.
Ironically, Wray was saved from directly responding by none other than Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-La.), the chairman of the January 6 select committee. One would assume the lawmaker in charge of the 18-month congressional investigation into the events of January 6 would force Wray to respond. Thompson should have been shocked at the suggestion the FBI stationed assets dressed as Trump supporters inside the Capitol prior to the breach.
Further, given reporting by friendly regime news organizations such as the New York Times confirming the existence of FBI informants months before January 6, Thompson and his fellow Democrats should have blasted Wray for either inept sources or a complete failure to collect accurate intelligence from those informants. Where’s the outrage that Wray concealed this information from the public and various congressional inquiries?
Wray has misled Congress for nearly two years by insisting his agency was caught off guard by what happened that afternoon—so why didn’t Thompson and committee Democrats condemn Wray instead of rescuing him from a legitimate question?
It was a telling moment.
Thompson’s punt also is the latest indication that the January 6 select committee will ignore the role of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in direct contradiction to what the American people were promised.
In comparing the Capitol protest to the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last year announced the formation of a special commission to investigate January 6. “Many questions regarding [the] circumstances of this assault on our democracy and our response to it remain,” Pelosi said during a June 2021 press conference. “It is imperative that we seek the truth.”
The initiating legislation promised the same: “The functions of the Select Committee are to investigate—activities of intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the Armed Forces, including with respect to intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination and information sharing among the branches.”
But, of course, those assurances have never publicly materialized; televised performances by the committee instead focused on the role of Donald Trump and his allies in allegedly provoking the so-called “insurrection.” While the first hearing in July 2021 featured the testimony of four overly emotional police officers who were on duty on January 6, committee members pointedly did not press for answers as to why the Capitol complex had been left intentionally unsecured, or why officers allowed hundreds of protesters inside.
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who just officially lost his seat in Congress, cried along with the officers rather than demanding to know why numerous law enforcement agencies stationed throughout the city did not protect the grounds of the Capitol.
It appears the American people will never know why, at least if the committee’s inquiry is the final word on the matter.
NBC News revealed last week that the committee’s report—scheduled for release on November 29 after two delays—will not address the response by law enforcement including the FBI. “Committee staffers were informed via a phone call that material prepared by several of the teams whose work did not directly link to Trump would largely not be included in the final report,” the reporters wrote.
Work of the “blue team,” tasked specifically with examining how law enforcement and intelligence agencies missed warning signs and failed to prepare accordingly, likely will be scuttled to instead focus on Trump. One committee staffer is “heartbroken,” the reporters claimed, “by the news that their work may not see the light of day.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who also officially lost her job in Congress, appears to be leading the effort to keep Americans in the dark about the role, or lack thereof, of law enforcement. Cheney warned that the committee will not blame police “for Donald Trump’s mob arm that he sent to the Capitol to try to stop the electoral count.”
But explaining why the Capitol complex was left so vulnerable that day is hardly a blame game and Cheney knows it. Omitting arguably the most important open question, certainly one that remains top of mind to the public, is another red flag as to the committee’s real intentions, a dereliction of duty, and/or part of a massive coverup. (It’s unclear whether committee investigators interviewed Wray or any top FBI officials.)
Plans to exclude FBI scrutiny from the final report are raising eyebrows even in pro-“insurrection!” quarters. “With an intelligence and law enforcement failure of the magnitude of January 6, the country needs an examination of the structural flaws and the personal ones as well that brought us to this point,” former FBI counterintelligence agent and commentator Asha Rangappa wrote on November 10. “In light of this inaction, there should be a comprehensive congressional oversight review of the FBI. Director Wray should be called to personally account for the Bureau’s inaction leading up to January 6.”
Congress should examine the “discrepancy between congressional testimony and the intelligence information the FBI possessed,” she continued.
Finally, something to agree upon.
Looks like Rangappa might get her wish but perhaps in ways other than she expects. A flurry of letters sent this week by Republicans on the House Judiciary committee warned the FBI and Department of Justice of pending investigations after the GOP takes control of Congress. Incoming committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is demanding testimony from Wray and other top FBI officials including Steven D’Antuono, head of the Washington FBI field office who abruptly announced his retirement earlier this month; not only was D’Antuono in charge of the Washington FBI office on January 6, he headed the Michigan FBI field office during the Whitmer fednapping hoax.
If House Republicans go scorched earth on the administrative state, particularly the Justice Department, the American people should prepare for more stunning revelations about the FBI’s key role in the events of January 6. More likely than not, Wray’s latest claim that the FBI didn’t instigate or orchestrate what happened that day will be the latest in a long list of his falsehoods.