FBI Director Christopher Wray said the U.S. has seen a rapid increase in political violence and domestic extremism during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, adding such events are now “almost a 365-day phenomenon” across the country.
Wray told lawmakers Thursday the bureau had opened a number of investigations related to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, saying there had been a “general intensification of violence” from both sides of the issue after Politico published a draft opinion prior to the ruling.
“I think this is part of a larger phenomenon that we are experiencing in this country right now,” Wray told Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). “I understand that passions run high, especially on an issue like abortion, but there’s just way too many people that seem to think that that justifies engaging in violence and destruction of property and threats of violence.”
“I feel like everyday I’m getting briefed on someone throwing a Molotov cocktail at someone over some issue,” Wray continued. “It’s crazy.”
Axios notes that just hours after Wray’s testimony, the FBI charged a man Thursday with arson for setting fire to a Planned Parenthood building in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Wray stressed that the agency wouldn’t limit law enforcement to any side of the political spectrum on Thursday.
“From our perspective, I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on, I don’t care who you’re upset with or what you’re upset about, on abortion or anything else, you don’t get to use violence or threats of violence to act on it,” Wray said. “And we’re going to go after that conduct aggressively. I feel very strongly about that and I’ve communicated that very strongly to all of our field offices and our workforce.”
Wray made similar comments last year, saying the FBI’s domestic terrorism caseload had “exploded” in just over a year and a half. A large portion of that work was related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The FBI director was also asked Thursday about the threat of attacks from overseas linked to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from places like Afghanistan.
“We are,” Wray said. “Especially now that we’re out, I’m worried about the potential loss of sources and (intelligence) collection over there.”