During a Thursday House Intelligence Committee hearing regarding the federal government’s annual threat assessment result, an Ohio congressman held Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray’s feet to the fire over the threat posed by Antifa, a far-left group responsible for rioting, burning, and destruction in America’s cities over the past several years.
Top Department of Justice leaders, including Wray’s FBI, have concluded that far-right “white supremacy” is a major terror threat in the United States, citing the Jan. 6 Capitol protest as justification.
But critics of that assessment, including Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH-10), are wondering about Antifa, which set fire to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility earlier this week, one in a years-long string of domestic terror crimes.
Turner used his time to ask Wray about Antifa, which the federal government has long denied is even a group, claiming instead that it is a loosely-knit activist movement.
“You have previously testified, have you not, that Antifa is not a group or organization? Is that your testimony today that Antifa is not a group or organization?” Turner asked.
“We consider Antifa to be more of a movement,” Wray said.
“So, Director Wray, you’re confirming that there is no organization or entity named Antifa that perpetrates violence against the United States government by attacking United States government federal buildings or violence against people of the United States government?” Turner asked.
“There are certainly local and regional nodes – individuals who self-identify with Antifa who commit violent attacks citing that as their motivation, and we have a number of predicate investigations into such individuals,” Wray said.
“Director Wray, does Antifa as an organization have organized training for self-professed members of Antifa? Yes or no, Director Wray.” Turner said.
“Again, we have seen individual instances in small regional nodes of people coming together to train, and in some cases – ” Wray answered, as Turner interrupted.
“Excellent. So you’re saying that there is organized training for self-professed members of Antifa?” Turned asked.
“There’s not a – I guess the distinction I’m trying to draw, and maybe that’s why we’re sort of talking past each other – is that there’s not some big national structure that is responsible for the violence,” a visibly uncomfortable Wray replied.
“Does Antifa, either on a local or a national level have coordinated and organized financing or financial support?” Turner asked.
“I think the financing issue is something we continue to investigate, but there’s nothing that I can share at this time with the Committee on that,” Wray said.
“So, is there or is there not?” Turner asked, continuing to press Wray.
“As I said, that’s something we’re continuing to investigate,” Wray replied.
“Well, they have obviously been deployed throughout the United States,” Turner said. “We have seen them burning federal buildings – self-professed members of Antifa – do they, or do they not have organized financial support on a local or national level?”
“That is something we continue to investigate,” Wray replied again.
“So you still don’t know? You don’t know the answer to the question?” Turned asked.
“I have nothing that I can share at this time,” Wray said.
“So does Antifa have an organized or coordinated targeting of organizations or individuals for the perpetration of violence?” Turner asked.
“At the local level, and in some cases the regional level, we have seen organized activity – people working together,” Wray said.
“So Fox News reported yesterday that in the Twin Cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, they had individuals that were self-identified Antifa who had come into the cities, who were not from the cities. They’re not local, Director.” Turner said.
“Well, my definition of local doesn’t mean just people who live in the same city,” Wray replied.
“Oh, so if you travel across the country to perpetrate violence, you become local where you perpetrate the violence?” a befuddled Turner asked in response.
“Well, when I say local or regional, I’m including people from the surrounding area, and that may or may not include people from other parts of the same state, for example,” Wray said.
“Director, people have seen with their own eyes reports across the country [about Antifa violence], and your testimony does not comport to what the American public are actually seeing, and it weakens their confidence [in the FBI],” Turner finished.
The exchange highlighted the stark contrast between the FBI’s response to violent left-wing Antifa members who have been largely ignored by the federal law enforcement group, and right wing supporters of former president Donald Trump who trespassed at the Capitol on January 6, who have been mercilessly hunted down by the FBI, and treated as members of an organized terrorist conspiracy.
Minneapolis has been the subject of mass Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots over the past year, and during the trial of Derek Chauvin, an ex-Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
Riots have intensified in recent days, after Daunte Wright was killed by police in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, and as the verdict in the Chauvin trial draws nearer.
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