Wray made the comments at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, responding to a line of inquiry by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who questioned the FBI director about the ways federal law enforcement officials have been applying to track people who engaged in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
“I’m anxious to see those who committed unlawful violent acts on January 6th brought to justice,” Lee announced. “I also believe that with this circumstance, like every other circumstance, we have to make sure that the civil liberties of the American people are protected, that we watch over them.”
Lee explained that he has heard many accounts of people who were present in Washington, “but never got anywhere near the Capitol or any violence on January 6th, who have inexplicably been contacted by the FBI, by agents who apparently were aware of their presence in Washington, DC, that day with no other explanation, perhaps other than the use of geolocation data.”
“Were you geolocating people through the FBI based on where they were on January 6th?” Lee asked.
Wray responded by stating that “there may be some instances in which location has been an investigative tool, but I can’t speak to any specific situation.”
Lee urged Wray on the legal basis for the FBI to use geolocation data, specifying whether (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) FISA courts were involved, which the FBI director denied.
“All of our investigative work in response to the capital has been under the legal authorities that we have in consultation with the department and the prosecutors at that point,” Wray stated.
The Utah senator proceeded to press Wray on the matter, asking if there were “instances in which you’re interviewing people based solely on information derived from a telecommunications provider, providing geolocation information, indicating that they were on or near the national monument mall on January 6th?”
Citing a “massive nationwide investigation involving thousands and thousands of interviews,” Wray refused to confirm whether any of the probes were asserted on geolocation data.
Lee appeared reluctant to accept Wray’s reply and expressed concern about the FBI’s investigative methods.
“Literally over the last 10 years, the entire 10 years I’ve served as a member of this committee and as a member of the United States Senate, I’ve been told fairly consistent answers under different FBI directors and different presidential administrations run by different parties. But the most consistent theme in those answers has been, ‘Just trust us. Don’t worry.'" Lee said.