Ohio Republicans question FBI director in hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Ohio Republican lawmakers had pointed questions for the director of the FBI in a hearing that marked the first time in more than a year the director testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

What You Need To Know

  • FBI director testified before House Judiciary Committee for first time in more than a year
  • Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan is the top Republican on the committee
  • Republicans focused on individual liberties being challenged
  • Democrats asked mostly about the U.S. Capitol attack in January

Rep. Jim Jordan (R, OH-4), the top Republican on the committee, used his opening statement to accuse Director Christopher Wray of not doing enough to protect Americans’ liberties.

“Every right we enjoy under the First Amendment has been assaulted, every single one,” Jordan said. “Freedom is under attack, and director, a lot of Americans think you’re part of the problem.”

Jordan and most of his Republican colleagues used the hearing to question Wray about everything from the southern border, to recent cyber attacks, to the origins of COVID-19.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R, OH-1) asked about the drug fentanyl coming through the U.S. — Mexico border.

“The chaos at our southern border, doesn’t this play right into the drug cartels?” Chabot asked. “The current policies down there on the southern border — isn’t more of that drug coming and killing far too many Americans? Don’t we really need to control that southern border?”

In an interview with Spectrum News last week, Jordan previewed why these topics would be the focus of Republicans.

“I think in many ways that Americans are wondering, what is the FBI doing to make sure Americans’ liberties aren’t attacked?” Jordan said. “And what are they doing that’s consistent with their mandate to protect the country from terrorists and from criminals?”

But Wray argued the bureau is only addressing violence and threats to public safety.

“The FBI does not and should not police ideology,” he testified. “And we do not investigate groups or individuals based on the exercise of First Amendment protected activity alone.”

Democrats used much of the hearing to ask about intelligence failures surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. They even played a montage video of the worst moments of that day to refute Republicans who have said it wasn’t an insurrection.

No Ohio Democrats serve on the Judiciary Committee.

Wray was very limited in what he could answer throughout the hearing because of ongoing investigations and FBI confidentiality.

He did testify that he’s concerned about the rise in violence across the country and he asked Congress to join in condemning it in a bipartisan way.

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