Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz confronted FBI Director Christopher Wray about a leak of alleged FBI material by the conservative activist group, Project Veritas, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.
Cruz tried to make the case that the FBI has a repeated pattern of targeting conservatives and “patriotic Americans.” He pointed to a copy of FBI training material obtained by Project Veritas that allegedly listed the Betsy Ross, Gadsden, and Gonzales Battle flags as themes “indicative of militia violent extremism.”
“Director Wray, what are you all doing?” Cruz asked. “This makes no sense. Do you agree with this FBI guidance that the Betsy Ross flag and the Gadsden flag and the Gonzales Battle flag are signs of militia violent extremism?”
“Senator, I am not familiar with the document behind you and I’m not in the practice of trying to comment on a document that I haven’t recognized. But, I will tell you that when we put out intelligence products, including ones that reference symbols which we do across a wide variety of contexts, we usually make great pains to put caveats and warnings in the document that make clear that a symbol alone is not considered evidence of violent extremism.”
The senator said the document does not include symbols connected to Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
“Instead, you identify patriotic Americans as suspects,” Cruz said.
The senator said this has become a pattern by the FBI, pointing to the National School Board Association requesting U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland use the Gun-Free School Zones Act and the USA PATRIOT Act to stop threats and violence that could be “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” The organization later apologized for the letter. (RELATED: ‘You Need To Follow The Law’: Ted Cruz Grills DOJ Official On The Handling Of Pro-Abortion Attacks)
“How many moms and dads who have spoken up at school boards have the FBI interviewed or investigated since the memo for the attorney general?” Cruz asked.
“I’m not aware of any,” Wray said. “Second, let me address the issue—”
“You’re not aware of any? Like the House of Representatives has written and they have asked you about it,” Cruz interjected.
“Let me say to you and to this committee the same thing I said to every FBI field office after I read the memo, which was that the FBI is not going to be in the business of investigating speech, to policing speech at school board meetings or anywhere else,” Wray answered. “And that we’re not about to start now, that threats of violence, that’s a different matter altogether and there we will work with our state and local partners as we always have.”
After Cruz repeated his question, Wray said there have been “small assessments and investigations” of people making threats. The senator said the House sent Wray oversight letters detailing dozens of investigations directed at parents attending school board meetings to oppose mask mandates and critical race theory.
The senator pointed to the case of four men conspiring to kidnap Republican Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which he called a “total debacle.” Two men were acquitted and the others received mistrials. He asked about the number of FBI agents reprimanded over the case, to which Wray would not comment on.