The FBI director kept quiet Thursday on whether federal authorities were investigating former President Donald Trump for his role inciting the attack on Congress on Jan. 6.
Pressed repeatedly by members of the House Judiciary Committee — who referenced Trump’s call for supporters to show up for a “wild” time on Jan. 6, and his speech that day urging supporters to “fight like hell” — FBI Director Christopher Wray declined to get into specifics.
“I’m not sure there’s a whole lot I can add on that subject,” Wray told Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) after the congresswoman read Trump’s statements and asked if the bureau had referred Trump’s “words and deeds” to the Justice Department.
Jackson Lee pushed for more: “I asked if you referred these actions or deeds of the president — you’re the investigatory agency — to the Department of Justice.”
But Wray wasn’t biting.
“I’m not aware of any investigation that specifically goes to that, but we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of investigations related to Jan. 6 involving lots and lots of different pieces of it, and I want to be careful not to speak with absolutes about a massive investigation,” he said.
Later, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) pressed on the same question, comparing the hundreds of federal prosecutions undertaken so far to going after Al Capone but instead charging “the people that do the bootlegging in the street.”
Cohen asked if the FBI had subpoenaed White House records for phone calls on the day of the riot, or of meetings Trump, Roger Stone and others may have taken with people involved in the attack.
“Well, again, congressman, somewhat along the lines of something I said earlier, because we have not one but now close to 500 pending criminal cases, all of which are in the hands of judges who feel very strongly about how much I discuss pending cases, I want to be careful about that,” Wray said.
He cited the conspiracy charges that the feds have brought against several dozen defendants in the Jan. 6 case. Cohen cut him off.
“I’m talking about Mr. Big, Number 1,” he said. “Have you gone after the people who incited the riot?”
“I don’t think it’d be appropriate for me to be discussing whether or not we are or aren’t investigating specific individuals,” Wray said. “I just don’t think that’s appropriate.”
“I’ll accept that and understand that, but I would urge you to do it,” Cohen replied.