Wray testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid. During the hearing, Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins (R) questioned Wray on the extent of the FBI’s involvement in the January 6 riot.
“Did the FBI have confidential human sources embedded within the January 6 protesters on January 6 2021?” the Louisiana congressman asked. Confidential human sources are not FBI agents; they are typically insiders in a group or well-connected individuals who have agreed to feed information to the FBI through handlers.
The FBI director said he has to be “very careful” about “when we do and do not and where we have and have not used confidential human sources.”
“To the extent that there’s a suggestion for example that the FBI’s confidential human sources or FBI employees in some way instigated or orchestrated Jan 6, that’s categorically false,” Wray said.
Higgins pressed Wray on if any FBI confidential human sources were dressed as supporters of former President Donald Trump and positioned in the U.S. Capitol “prior to the doors being open[ed].”
Wray began his response reiterating his previous answer when Higgins exploded: “It should be a no! Can you not tell the American people, no, we did not have confidential human sources dressed as Trump supporters positioned inside the Capitol on January 6?”
Wray responded as Higgins time for questioning expired, saying, “You should not read anything into my decision to not to share information related to confidential human sources.”
FBI Director Wray: The suggestion, for example, that the FBI’s confidential human sources or FBI employees in someway instigated or orchestrated Jan. 6th, that’s categorically false. pic.twitter.com/hlW6B9D0Mw
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) November 15, 2022
Prior to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, the FBI had as many as eight sources embedded within the Proud Boys, a right-wing paramilitary group that was represented in the Capitol riot. Five members of the group are scheduled to stand trial next month for their actions leading up to and on January 6. The defendants have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly planning and coordinating the Capitol riot.
The revelation about the FBI informants in the Proud Boys organization came in a series of legal filings made over the past week by the defendants’ attorneys. The defense attorneys argued that prosecutors had improperly withheld information on the informants, and that the information appeared to be favorable to the defense, according to The New York Times.
The new revelation raises questions about what the FBI knew in the weeks and days leading up to the January 6 riot, and why the bureau wasn’t able to prevent the event using information given to it by the Proud Boys informants.
The FBI official leading the investigation into the January 6 riot, Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office, is set to retire at the end of the month. The FBI announced D’Antuono planned departure in an internal memo last week.
Before taking his post in Washington, D.C., D’Antuono worked in the FBI field office in Detroit. As the special agent in charge, D’Antuono oversaw the bureau’s investigation into a group of militia men and busted a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The Whitmer plot received national attention when it first broke into the news in October 2020, just weeks away from the presidential election between then-President Trump and then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The plot was immediately characterized in the media as one of the most important domestic terror cases in decades.
Questionable conduct by FBI agents and informants, which came to light in the ensuing trials, marred the bureau’s image and the plot’s investigation. Of the six men charged by the Department of Justice in the plot, two cut plea deals before heading to trial, two were acquitted at trial, and two were found guilty of conspiracy in a second trial after the first jury hung on the charges.