WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday repeatedly shot down claims by Republican allies of former President Donald Trump and others that antifa activists participated in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
“We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th,” Wray said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing to address concerns about the intelligence leading up to the riot and the domestic terrorism threat more broadly. “That doesn’t mean we’re not looking, and we’ll continue to look, but at the moment we have not seen that.”
Wray explained that those who participated in the breach of the Capitol fell into two main groups of violent extremists — those associated with militia groups, such as Oath Keepers, and those who advocate white supremacy.
Wray’s comments came after Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the committee, spent much of his opening remarks focused not on the right-wing extremists who attacked the Capitol in January, but on left-wing extremists, such as the anti-fascist, or antifa, movement. Grassley referred to how far-left protesters vandalized a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, in the summer and the state Democratic Party headquarters during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“We must examine the issue of domestic terrorism broadly, very broadly, to include all forms of political extremism, domestic terrorism, wherever it falls on the political spectrum,” Grassley said. “No serious oversight activity and no other policy decisions can be made without doing both.”
Trump and many of his allies have repeatedly claimed that antifa activists were responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. At a hearing last week, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., read from an article that falsely blamed the violence at the Capitol on antifa, “fake Trump protesters” and “provocateurs.” A recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that 58 percent of Republicans believe the Capitol riot to have been “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in his opening statement that violence across the political spectrum, including the vandalism at the federal courthouse in Portland, “should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“But it is not equivalent to a violent attempt to overturn the results of elections, nor is it equivalent to mass shootings targeting minority communities,” he said. “This false equivalency is an insult to the brave police officers who were injured or lost their lives on Jan. 6, as well as dozens of others who’ve been murdered in white supremacist attacks.”