FBI director Christopher Wray has accused supporters of Donald Trump who carried out the deadly attack on the US Capitol of domestic terrorism and has vowed to hold them accountable.
- Mr Wray said the riot had no place in America’s democracy and could not be tolerated
- At least 18 people associated with the far-right Proud Boys group have been charged
- Investigators have revealed rioters carried weapons including sledgehammers and tasers
“I was appalled that you, our country’s elected leaders, were victimised right here in these very halls,” Mr Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It was Mr Wray’s first testimony in Congress since the attack in January, a failed bid to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s November election victory.
The riots were carried out by supporters of then-president Mr Trump who, in a speech near the White House, exhorted them to march to the Capitol in protest.
“That siege was criminal behaviour, pure and simple,” Mr Wray said.
“It’s behaviour that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism.”
“It’s got no place in our democracy. And tolerating it would make a mockery of our nation’s rule of law,” he added.
Mr Wray said there was no evidence of far-left involvement in the riots, as some Trump supporters have claimed.(AP: Mandel Ngan
The Justice Department has charged more than 300 people on criminal counts ranging from conspiracy to attacking police and obstructing Congress on January 6.
The rioting led to five deaths.
At least 18 people associated with the far-right Proud Boys have been charged and nine people tied to the anti-government militia known as the Oath Keepers are facing charges they conspired, as far back as November, to storm the Capitol to prevent Mr Biden from becoming President.
Supporters of Mr Trump have repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims the rioters were actually fake Trump supporters who belong to the left-leaning antifa movement.
LoadingBut Mr Wray told politicians this narrative was false.
“We have not to date seen any evidence of any anarchist violence extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not looking and we’ll continue to look, but at the moment, we have not seen that.”
Questions over why FBI was not more prepared
The FBI has yet to arrest any suspects in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, or for pipe bombs that were discovered outside the headquarters of both the Republican and Democratic national committees.
The FBI has not disclosed the cause of Brian Sicknick’s death.(AP: Brendan Smialowski
The FBI has obtained a video that shows a suspect spraying bear spray on police officers, including Mr Sicknick, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
The suspect has yet to be identified by name, and it is still unclear if the bear spray contributed to Mr Sicknick’s death.
Mr Wray said he cannot disclose a cause of death, and the investigation into his death continues.
In a newly unsealed search warrant, investigators said rioters carried weapons inside the Capitol including tyre irons, sledgehammers, tasers, bear spray and, in at least one case, a handgun with an extended magazine.
Rioting at the US Capitol led to five deaths.(AP: Jacquelyn Martin
Federal investigators including the FBI have come under scrutiny since January 6 over why more was not done to protect the Capitol ahead of the attack.
On January 5, the FBI’s Virginia office distributed a raw, unverified intelligence report that warned violent extremists intended to disrupt Congress.
Mr Wray told politicians the intelligence was shared with other law enforcement agencies three different ways but acknowledged he personally did not see the report until a few days later.
As to why other top law enforcement officials did not see it, Mr Wray said: “I don’t have a good answer to that.”