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Durbin Questions FBI Director Wray During Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing

The Senator asked what the FBI is doing on the ongoing threat of domestic terrorism, the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and the gun violence epidemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today asked questions during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray. This is the Committee’s second annual FBI oversight hearing since Senator Durbin became Chair, and FBI Director Wray’s third appearance before this Committee during the past two years. Durbin asked Director Wray about mass shootings and military-style assault weapons that can be used to kill large numbers of people in mere seconds, including law enforcement.

I am noticing that law enforcement officials are more vulnerable. Bullets fired from AR-15's are powerful enough to pierce soft body armor. This proliferation of guns, particularly assault weapons, is deadly and dangerous when it comes to our law enforcement. What is your observation?” Durbin asked.

Director Wray confirmed, “my fellow law enforcement leaders worry about it all the time. We are trying to do the best we can with better protective equipment and better training.” Last week, the Committee held a hearing on the threat America’s gun violence epidemic poses to law enforcement. Firearm-related fatalities were the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in 2021 after COVID-19, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). 

Durbin then asked about the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and why the FBI has been unable to identify hundreds of remaining individuals who breached the Capitol.

“One of the most outrageous examples of violence against law enforcement occurred right here in the U.S. Capitol complex on January 6, 2021, when an insurrectionist mob attacked the men and women who were trying to defend me and us and that resulted with at least five people dead and 140 law enforcement officers injured… The FBI is still trying to identify more than 350 suspects believed to have committed violent attacks on the Capitol grounds. What has made it so difficult to identify these 350 additional suspects?” Durbin asked.

Director Wray stated the FBI continues to investigate the attack and is trying to track down these individuals. Given the extensive online planning for violence on January 6, Durbin asked about comments by Jill Sanborn, the FBI’s former Counterterrorism head, that it is not within the FBI’s authorities to monitor publicly available social media conversations.

“How do you reconcile this with the Attorney General’s Guidelines, which authorize the FBI to “proactively surf the Internet to find publicly available websites… [where] the promotion of terrorist crimes is openly taking place?” asked Durbin.

Director Wray and Durbin both agreed the use of Artifice Intelligence (AI) has made this effort “more efficient.” Director Wray went on to say, “the FBI like other organizations has a big data problem and Artificial Intelligence is an important tool as we get through the mountains of information.”

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.