The director of the FBI had strong words Wednesday for supporters of former President Donald Trump who have been using violent rhetoric in the wake of his agency's search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.
What You Need To Know
- FBI Director Christopher Wray condemned threats against federal law enforcement in the wake of his agency's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home
- Wray, who was appointed by Trump says threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department are "deplorable and dangerous"
- The FBI director's comments came hours before an "armed suspect" attempted to breach an FBI facility in Cincinnati on Thursday, the agency said; It's unclear whether there is any connection to the search of Trump's home
- Meanwhile, Republicans have ramped up their rhetoric about the search, threatening retaliation and retribution while also demanding information about the FBI's action
Christopher Wray, who was appointed as the agency's director in 2017 by Trump, called threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department "deplorable and dangerous."
"I'm always concerned about threats to law enforcement," Wray said. "Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you're upset with."
Wray made the remarks following a news conference during a long-planned visit to the agency's field office in Omaha, Nebraska, where he discussed the FBI's focus on cybersecurity.
The FBI director became the first senior Justice Department official to discuss the search of the former president's Palm Beach, Florida, resort, but offered no comment about the hourslong probe Monday by FBI agents.
"As I'm sure you can appreciate, that's not something I can talk about," Wray said.
Wray's comments came hours before an "armed suspect" attempted to breach an FBI facility in Cincinnati on Thursday, the agency said. It's unclear whether there is any connection to the search of Trump's home.
It has been easy to find the threats and a call to arms in those corners of the internet favored by right-wing extremists since Trump himself announced the search of his Florida home. Reactions included the ubiquitous "Lock and load" and calls for federal agents and even U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to be assassinated.
On Gab — a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites — one poster going by the name of Stephen said he was awaiting "the call" to mount an armed revolution.
"All it takes is one call. And millions will arm up and take back this country. It will be over in less than 2 weeks," the post said.
Another Gab poster implored others: "Lets get this started! This unelected, illegitimate regime crossed the line with their GESTAPO raid! It is long past time the lib socialist filth were cleansed from American society!"
The search of Trump's residence Monday is part of an investigation into whether Trump took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information since the National Archives and Records Administration said it had received from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of White House records, including documents containing classified information, earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Republicans have ramped up their rhetoric about the search, threatening retaliation and retribution while also demanding information about the FBI's action.
"It's shocking. It's disturbing from my perspective," said South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, adding: "The American people will benefit from having a lot of information presented as quickly as possible so that we understand and appreciate what's happening.”
But one expert, retired FBI Special Agent Kenneth Gray, told Spectrum News that any explanation for the public would not be standard.
However, "in a high-profile case like this where a lot of political capital is being raised over this issue, I would think that the DOJ or the FBI would release some type of statement about the event," said Gray, now a senior lecturer at the University of New Haven.
Gray told Spectrum News that the decision to make a search such as this would not be taken lightly and would have required multiple levels of approval.
Trump’s attorneys have so far declined to release details from the search warrant, but they could potentially release it if they wanted to.