(The Center Square) – FBI Director Christopher Wray faced questions from Republicans lawmakers Wednesday over the federal law enforcement agency’s alleged bias against conservatives and Republicans.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, kicked off the hearing by blasting the FBI, laying out several instances of alleged bias, including the FBI’s role in cautioning social media companies to censor certain COVID-19 viewpoints as well as the Hunter Biden laptop story weeks before the presidential election.
“American speech is censored, parents are called terrorists, Catholics are called radicals, and I haven’t even talked about the spying that took place of a presidential campaign or the raiding of a former president’s home,” Jordan said at the hearing. “But maybe what’s more frightening is what happens if you come forward and tell Congress … you will be retaliated against.”
Jordan also pointed to U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty’s ruling from earlier this month demanding the White House and FBI stop pressuring social media companies to censor conservative speech, citing the First Amendment. Jordan cited this paragraph from the ruling to back his point:
“Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits in establishing that the government has used its power to silence the opposition. Opposition to COVID-19 vaccines, opposition to COVID-19 mask and lockdowns, opposition to the lab leak theory of COVID-19, opposition to the validity of the 2020 election, opposition to President Biden’s policies, statements that the Hunter Biden laptop was true, and opposition to policies of the government officials in power. All were suppressed. It is quite telling that each example or category of suppressed speech was conservative in nature.”
Wray pushed back against allegations of bias and defended the agency’s work.
“The idea that I am biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me given my own personal background,” said Wray, who is reportedly a registered Republican.
Democrats jumped to Wray’s defense as well.
“We don’t have a two-tiered system of justice,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. “We have one Department of Justice that goes after criminals regardless of party ideology.
“It is not the fault of the FBI that Donald Trump surrounded himself with criminals,” he added.
Critics have blasted the FBI for an array of alleged missteps, in particular the agency’s role in monitoring the campaign of former President Donald Trump and alleged rampant abuse of secret FISA warrants.
Former Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice John Durham testified earlier this year that the FBI had no real basis for its probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Durham said “the FBI was too willing to accept and use politically funded and uncorroborated opposition research like the Steele Dossier.” That dossier became the foundation for the FBI’s investigation and monitoring of Trump’s campaign but was almost certainly a political document funded by the Clinton campaign.
The agency’s handling of the Jan. 6 protests in favor of Trump have raised eyebrows among critics as well who point out Black Lives Matter riots around the country were largely ignored while Jan. 6 rioters were tracked down.
A Government Accountability Office report published in February said the FBI and Capitol Police were aware of threats before Jan. 6 but did not do enough to address them.
One whistleblower, Steve Friend, a former FBI special agent who served five years on an FBI SWAT team and five years before that in local law enforcement in Georgia, testified before Congress in May alleging that the FBI manipulated Jan. 6 data to make domestic terrorism appear more widespread.
Friend said that the FBI’s National Security Branch “has refocused counterterrorism from legitimate foreign actors to political opponents within our borders.”
In response to those allegations, an FBI spokesperson told The Center Square that the agency “has not and will not retaliate against individuals who make protected whistleblower disclosures.”
“While the crimes at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, occurred in Washington, D.C., the reality is many of the people who committed violent acts and other crimes that day traveled to the nation’s capital from multiple jurisdictions across the country,” the FBI said. “The FBI investigates individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and other criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security. We do not conduct investigations based on a person’s views. We are committed to upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment activity.”