May 1, 2023

FBI Director Wray Appears Before House Committee to Discuss Agency Budget Transcript

FBI Director Wray Appears Before House Committee to Discuss Agency Budget Transcript
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FBI Director Wray Appears Before House Committee to Discuss Agency Budget. Read the transcript here.

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Chairman Rogers (00:00):

… investigation. Director Wray has served in this role since August of 2017, overseeing an agency of over 35,000 people, including special agents, intelligence analysts, language specialists, scientists, and information technology specialists. The ’24 budget request for FBI salaries and expenses is 11.3 billion, with 6.7 billion of that amount, about 60%, designated as defense spending. That’s a 6% increase above the fiscal ’23 enacted level for salaries and expenses.

The FBI budget request includes 196 million in program increases and 409 million adjustments to base, representing the substantial increased cost of continuing the FBI’s current activities. The largest program increases requested are for FBI’s cyber investigative capabilities, an increase of 6.3 million, followed by an increase of 53 million for DNA lab support. With federal debt surpassing $31 trillion, it’s imperative that this committee ensure that every dollar provided to the agencies is spent efficiently and appropriately.

Director Wray, we welcome you to the subcommittee. Thank you for giving us this amount of time with you. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss with you today the major cost drivers and threats challenging the FBI, such as the crisis at our southern border and other challenges, such as the erosion of public trust in the bureau. Perhaps unfairly, faith in the FBI seems to be at an all-time low. Like it or not, many believe the FBI sometimes employs unnecessarily aggressive tactics, doesn’t hold itself to the same standards it holds the subjects of its investigations, or targets one side of the political spectrum more than the other. I do not doubt that 99% or more of your agents go to work each day to do exactly what the American public wants them to do, defend the US against terrorists and espionage, help get deadly fentanyl off our streets, rescue child victims, protect the elderly from vicious phone scams, and more. FBI agents risk their lives in pursuit of these efforts, and many sadly have given their lives in service to our nation. Americans need the FBI to remain focused on its mission and do all it can to stay above the political fray.

I hope to learn more about the FBI’s efforts to combat transnational organized crime and the introduction of synthetic opioids to the US market, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. I also want to hear about the FBI’s efforts to combat the wide range of illegal activities along our southern border. Mr. Wray, once again, we appreciate you being here to answer our questions and your hard work on behalf of the American people. Let me now recognize Ranking Member Kurt Wright for any remarks he may have.

Ranking Member Cartwright (03:56):

Thank you, Chairman Rogers, and I’d like to join you in welcoming our witness, FBI Director Wray, to the subcommittee again. As we all know, the FBI does just an enormous amount of work to help to protect the American people. To that end, FBI employs 37,000 people in 56 field offices, 350 resident agencies, specialized facilities and analytical centers across the country, as well as over 60 legal attache offices in 80 countries around the world. FBI works to investigate and disrupt crime, everything from violent gang networks, cyber criminals, white collar crime, human trafficking, and domestic and international terrorism.

Since Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression, its invasion of Ukraine last year, the FBI has also worked successfully to disrupt criminal, cyber, and hostile intelligence activities from Russia that endanger Ukraine, our partners, and American citizens. This has included investigating and supporting the indictments of individuals and corporate entities engaging in sanctions evasion, export control violations, and other crimes, as well as identifying hundreds of millions of dollars in yachts, airplanes, and luxury homes belonging to Russian oligarchs, leading to warrants for their seizure.

As chairman of this subcommittee in the last Congress, I’m proud of our work to provide additional resources for the FBI, including for its Ukraine-related work and for various other efforts to protect the American people. The Biden administration is requesting funding for further FBI enhancements in fiscal year 2024, including investments to combat violent crime and cyber crime and to enhance the FBI’s counterintelligence and counter-terrorism capabilities. At the same time, I must continue to express my very strong opposition to the House majority’s plan as included in legislation that barely passed the House last night and on partisan lines to implement drastic cuts in discretionary spending. These proposed cuts would translate to the equivalent for the FBI of losing 11,000 positions, or a third of its workforce, greatly damaging the FBI’s ability to protect our American people and keep our community safe. Director Wray, I look forward to discussing these issues and hearing more from you about the FBI’s fiscal year 2024 budget request, and I thank you for being here. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

Chairman Rogers (07:08):

… of our witness’s time, and we’ll follow up with you should we have additional questions. Director Wray, you’re recognized for an opening statement. Without objection, your written statement will be entered into the record. I would ask that you try to keep your statement to five minutes or so so we can have additional time for questions. You’re recognized, sir.

Director Wray (07:32):

Thank you. Good afternoon, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Cartwright, members of the subcommittee. There is no question that today’s threats are more sophisticated and move more quickly than ever before, and to stay ahead of them, we’ve requested important enhancements to our budget that will help us tackle the wide range of threats we face. I look forward to discussing those with you today.

Let me start, as you did, Mr. Chairman, with cyber. Today’s cyber threats are more pervasive, hit a wider variety of victims, and carry the potential for greater damage than ever before. You can take China. A key part of the Chinese government’s multi-pronged strategy to lie, to cheat, and to steal their way to surpassing us as the global superpower is cyber. The scale of the Chinese cyber threat is unparalleled. They’ve got a bigger hacking program than every other major nation combined and have stolen more of our personal and corporate data than all other nations, big or small, combined. To give you a sense of what we’re up against, if each one of the FBI’s cyber agents and intel analysts focused exclusively on the China threat, on nothing but China, Chinese hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1. But of course, China is not the only challenge in cyberspace, not even close. We’re investigating over 100 different ransomware variants, each variant with scores of victims, as well as a host of other novel threats posed by both cyber criminals and nation state actors, so in addition to China, countries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and it is getting more and more challenging to discern where the nation state threat ends and the cyber criminal threat begins.

Recently, we’ve seen cyber attacks targeting the critical infrastructure and services that ordinary Americans rely on every day. I’m talking about places like hospitals, schools, 911 call centers, and the FBI’s got investigations into destructive attacks like these all over the country, in communities large and small, which is why in this year’s budget request, you’ll see our need for 192 more cyber positions and a little over $63 million.

We will put those critical resources towards ensuring the FBI remains the world’s premier cyber investigative agency by taking the fight to our adversaries through joint sequenced operations and rapid information-sharing with the private sector, by building out our model cyber squads, each tackling multiple threats in more field offices, placing investigators, analysts, and other key professionals close to the victims that need us, and by providing our workforce with critical, cutting-edge training. Our opponents in this space are relentless, and we need your help to ensure that we’ve got the resources to keep responding in kind.

Now, switching gears, almost every week, I’m speaking with chiefs and sheriffs all over the country to discuss the threats that we’re fighting together, and I can tell you in those discussions, the number one issue is always the same, which is violent crime. Last year, working with our state and local partners through our hundreds of FBI-led violent crime task forces, we arrested more than 20,000 violent criminals. That’s an average of 55 bad guys taken off the streets per day every day.

As part of our FY 24 budget, we’re requesting an increase to build on our efforts to combat the rising violent crime affecting so many communities all over the country. A big part of that will also go towards our investigation of crimes against children and human trafficking. Every year, the FBI and our partners identify and locate thousands of victims of child exploitation and human trafficking, and the enhancement that we’ve requested will allow us to add even more personnel to that vital effort. Finally, I’ve described the threat of gangs and cartels moving fentanyl and other deadly substances across the border and into communities all over this country as a threat of epidemic proportion. We’re now pursuing investigations against transnational organized criminal groups in all 56 FBI field offices and have more than 300, close to 400 now, active investigations into cartel leadership. On top of that, we’re leveraging international partnerships through our legal attache offices to enhance investigations and gather and share intelligence, and we’re actively participating in six OCDETF Strike Forces just along the border. Although we are not the agency tasked with the physical security of our borders, we’re committed to doing our part to work with our partners to tackle these very real and very serious threats. As part of that, we’ve asked for $53 million, in part to keep pace with the sevenfold increase in DNA samples from individuals crossing the border that we’re testing on behalf of DHS. Over the past couple of years, we’ve provided critical DNA testing support to 223 investigations, including more than 100 sexual assaults and a dozen homicides based on matches from DNA samples collected at the border by Customs and Border Protection. We expect that volume to increase as border crossings increase, and we need your support to continue to process those samples, which so often provide the missing piece of the puzzle to solve serious violent crimes that might otherwise go unsolved if we’re not able to process those border crossing DNA samples.

I’ve barely scratched the surface. The breadth and depth of the threats the American people look to us to protect them from is staggering, and I am proud to be here today, representing the close to 38,000 men and women of the FBI who work tirelessly and selflessly to meet that challenge every day. Thank you for your support of our men and women in helping us carry out that mission, and I’m happy to answer any questions that you have.

Chairman Rogers (14:26):

Thank you, Director. We will now proceed under the five- minute rule with questions for the witness. I’ll begin by recognizing myself. The opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities in my home state of Kentucky, of course, and across the country. As you highlighted in your testimony, the FBI is doing extraordinary work disrupting opioid trafficking networks on the dark net. What are some of the most significant actions the FBI is currently taking to curb the deadly opioid epidemic plaguing the US, and are you keeping pace with emerging dealers and marketplaces?

Director Wray (15:15):

Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you and I have discussed, I think it’s sometimes hard to come up with a strong enough word to capture what a significant crisis this is. Epidemic is the word I keep coming back to, and I really think that’s accurate. This is an all hands on deck approach. The FBI is trying to do our part, along with all sorts of other agencies and partners even outside of government, but I’ll list several things that really try to tap into what we can uniquely bring to the table.

First, we have a prescription drug initiative, which taps into our healthcare fraud expertise, where we go after pill mills and a lot of the professionals who are fueling the crisis. In particular, in the Appalachian region, we have a significant effort there against providers who abuse their oaths and are a part of the problem.

Second, through our Safe Streets task forces all over the country, we target the gangs who are distributing fentanyl and other dangerous drugs all over the country.

Third, through our Transnational Organized Crime West programs, we target the cartels, the transnational criminal organizations, that are the supply, the source of supply. Fourth, as you referenced in your question, we have a significant initiative called J-CODE, which is FBI-led, but involves 12 … I think it’s about 12 agencies, which is focused on disrupting and dismantling dark net traffickers and marketplaces for fentanyl and other synthetic dangerous substances. We’ve had a number of major operations. Operation Dark HunTor, for example, was not that long ago, which took down what was at the time at least the largest illicit marketplace on the dark net.

But we’re also doing other things beyond just our investigative work. From an awareness-raising perspective, we’ve got something called Operation Protector, which is designed to reach out to schools, both middle schools, high schools, colleges, military service members, wellness centers, things like that to raise awareness about the problem. It follows on the heels of a similar effort that we did jointly with DEA called Chasing the Dragon, which is, again, we’re trying to see what we can do, what we can uniquely contribute to hit the problem at multiple levels on the continuum of this really multidisciplinary threat.

Chairman Rogers (17:49):

Which, if any, of the program increases that you request would be used to enhance or increase your transnational organized crime efforts, including the J-CODE initiative?

Director Wray (18:07):

Well, a number. So our violent crime piece would be relevant to that problem, to our efforts there. Some of our technology pieces would be relevant to that. Really, it’s across the board, because in some ways, the opioid crisis and the organized crime problem that goes with it ends up permeating almost every program that the FBI addresses these days.

Chairman Rogers (18:36):

By all accounts, the fact that the drug cartels occupy places all across our country, not to mention internationally. What are you doing to go after the cartels?

Director Wray (18:58):

So as I mentioned, we have about 380, I think it is, investigations specifically into cartel leadership. We are working with our Mexican law enforcement partners through vetted teams and things like that to go after some of those. There have been some key indictments announced recently. We are also trying to cut off sources of funding for the cartels and then also trying to hit their distribution network here in the US. Those are a few things that I would list.

Chairman Rogers (19:36):

The DEA director testified this morning before our subcommittee and dealt with some 28 people charged from the cartels, and the DEA has an ongoing effort, along with you and others. How is that partnership working?

Director Wray (20:02):

Well, I can tell you, Mr. Chairman, that we have a great partnership with DEA. In fact, having been in law enforcement, in and out throughout my career, when I look at the relationship between the FBI and the DEA these days compared to what it was like when I was a line prosecutor in Atlanta years and years ago, it’s night and day. I think a lot of that is just a recognition of how significant the threat is and how much more productive we can all be working together as a team. We do it on things like OCDETF Strike Forces, for example. So it’s been a very, I think, effective partnership, and I have a lot of respect for the men and women of the DEA, who are just fantastic partners.

Chairman Rogers (20:48):

What are some of the more troubling criminal enterprises on the dark net that your agents and analysts are working to defeat?

Director Wray (20:59):

Well, the thing about the dark net that is so challenging is that these marketplaces have become a place where people can come shop for really every kind of dangerous criminal product or service that’s out there. So I mean everything from certainly things like fentanyl, as we already talked about, but also all the way over to stolen credentials to log into somebody’s network, or you can hire hitmen. We’ve even had WMD-type products, if you will, being marketed on the dark net.

So it really is a soup to nuts place of just unbelievably dangerous criminal activity, and the key to taking something like that down is both the technical expertise, which is part of why we have the cyber piece that’s so significant in our budget request, but it’s also the international piece of it, because we’re most effective … In order to avoid a whack-a-mole effect when we take down one of these marketplaces, we have to work with our foreign partners.

So for example, we had a very good success against a market called Alpha Bay, where we worked closely with the Dutch, among others, and we timed it so that as we took down one market, we knew the bad guys were all going to flock to this other market. So we took down one. They fled to the other one. They basically fled right into the arms of the Dutch law enforcement, so we were able to take down two at one time, in effect. It’s oversimplified, but that’s the basic idea. We need so both the high-tech expertise and the cross-border cooperation with our foreign law enforcement partners.

Chairman Rogers (22:42):

My time has expired. However, I wanted to reemphasize with you the utter importance of taking down the cartels, by all accounts the main vehicle for bringing fentanyl and others to the table. So thank you for that work. Mr. Cartwright?

Ranking Member Cartwright (23:06):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Director Wray, I want to express my agreement with the chairman about the importance of working together and the importance of having an all of government approach to fighting the opioid crisis, the fentanyl coming into our country and poisoning our citizens, 107,000 dead last year from this crisis. Working together is what we need to do, and putting aside professional jealousies and envies, we have to do that.

Well, here in the House, just yesterday, we passed a bill utterly on party lines and just barely that would impose significant cuts in discretionary outlays for fiscal year 2024. That’s what we’re up to here on the appropriations committee, funding your agency. I’m going to ask you, and I’m going to ask you all at once a bunch of different questions.

To illustrate how a 22% cut … That’s what this would mean, a 22% cut across the board for non-defense discretionary programs, how a 22% cut would impact the FBI’s ability to fight violent crime, to fight the espionage and influence efforts of others, such as the PRC, to help fight the opioid epidemic, to enhance the FBI’s own cybersecurity, and to fight cyber threats facing our nation and to help fight transnational crime. What would a 22% cut in your budget do to those things?

Director Wray (24:52):

Well, so let me, I guess, take those in turn. So violent crime, we, as I said, arrested 20,000 violent criminals last year, dismantled, I think, 370 violent gangs since the beginning of last year. So a 22% reduction would mean hundreds more violent criminals out on the streets, dozens more violent gangs terrorizing communities. I should also say that our violent crime work is also very heavily focused on crimes against children, and we arrested something like 3,000 child predators and saved, I think, about 2,000 kids from abuse and exploitation last year. So a 22% reduction would be hundreds more predators on the loose and hundreds more kids left at their mercy.

You mentioned espionage. My principle focus, my priority has been since early during my time as director the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, which I think represents the greatest threat to our country. We’ve grown the number of investigations into the Chinese government and their actors by about 1,300%, and we have well over 2,000 active investigations into that threat as we speak. So a 22% reduction would be scores of threats from China left unaddressed, and I can assure you the Chinese government is not dialing back.

So you mentioned cyber. We are investigating 100 different types of ransomware. You could look at just China alone. As I said, their hacking program is bigger than that of every other major nation combined. So a 22% reduction would be cutting capacity against more and more attacks, which hit critical infrastructure, schools, hospitals, 911 call centers, our innovation, our economic security.

Cybersecurity, I guess the FBI’s own cybersecurity, we block something like 15 million unauthorized connections, in other words, external systems trying to get into our systems per week. We know cyber adversaries want to hack government systems, especially ones that have sensitive information like we do. So a 22% reduction would almost certainly mean significantly more of those efforts that would get through.

You mentioned opioids and fentanyl. In any given seizure … I can think of just a few off the top of my head in California, Phoenix, Albuquerque, just individual seizures, where we’ve seized more fentanyl in one seizure than would be enough to kill entire states, including the entire state of Pennsylvania. So a 22% reduction there would mean fewer seizures of fentanyl, more fentanyl on the streets, more overdose deaths, I assume.

You mentioned organized crime. I think I mentioned to the chairman, we have 380 investigations into cartel leadership, and these are sophisticated, very well-funded, dangerous adversaries that need a team effort and lots of resources to take them down. A 22% reduction would significantly weaken our ability to fight back against the cartel.

So each one of these things, in my view, we need more money for, not less, and we need to make sure that we’re not just doing right by the hardworking men and women of the FBI, who are career law enforcement professionals, who have devoted their lives to serving the public, and a 22% reduction would have drastic impact on them, their spouses, their kids. But it would also have impact on our state and local law enforcement partners, who I’m dealing with every week, who are … Most of them are down significantly in terms of their workforce and their headcount, and they’re depending on us more and more to fight violent crime and the scourge of drugs. So a 22% cut to us means 22% less than we can do to help them in the slew of ways we do that.

Then I guess ultimately, at the end of the road, you’re talking about the impact on the American people, the public in the neighborhoods that we’re protecting from Chinese spies, hackers, violent gangs, terrorists, predators, the cartels. So I guess that’s my answer to your question.

Ranking Member Cartwright (29:40):

Thank you, Director Wray. I will yield back at this point, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Rogers (29:45):

Judge Carter?

Judge Carter (29:48):

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Director Wray, for being here. My first round question is this. The FBI has drifted from its reputation as a non-partisan federal law enforcement agency. How can the FBI repair their reputation so all Americans see them as an organization committed to law and order, and what standards have you put in place to ensure that the FBI is not used as a weapon for political prosecution?

Director Wray (30:29):

So Judge, I appreciate the question. Obviously, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I accepted President Trump’s nomination to be FBI Director because I believe deeply in the men and women of the agency that I worked with for so many years earlier in my career and I think are the finest professionals in this space on the planet. My time as director has only reinforced that assessment. I have been to all 56 of our field offices twice. I’ve met with law enforcement from all 50 states. I’ve talked to business leaders. I’ve talked to judges. I’ve talked to community leaders, and the FBI that they tell me about, the FBI that they describe is one that is appreciated, trusted, respected, that they describe. These are exact phrases I hear from them all the time. It’s better than ever.

So I would stack our workforce up against any anywhere in the world, and you may be reassured a little bit to know that during the time that I’ve been director, the number of Americans all across the country applying to join us, to spend their careers working with us has actually gone up significantly. In 2019, it tripled the pace it had been, and you may be even more pleased to know that we’ve got more applicants from the state of Texas than from any state in the country.

Director Wray (32:00):

… Country, and it’s been, I think an 86% increase in Texans applying to join the FBI since I’ve been in this seat. I also know that the relationships that we have with our state and local law enforcement partners in Texas are superb. I’ve visited all of our offices there on multiple occasions, and each time I meet with our partners to try to make sure that we at the FBI are doing right by them, because that’s such an important part to me, of what I think our role is. As to the question of what I’m doing internally, the message that I have tried to communicate since day one at the FBI is that we’re going to not just do the right thing, but do it in the right way. That we’re going to follow the facts wherever they lead, no matter who likes it. And the reality, the unfortunate reality of the kind of work we do is that there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t like the outcome of what we do. That just comes with the territory.

Judge Carter (32:56):

I don’t have an argument with the right. I’m not going to go into names, but for the last 18 months, we’ve turned on the TV about the Russia story and everybody said, “Oh, Russia hacked us,” and this, that and the other. And then we find out it originated with a couple of FBI agents, okay? And all these things come out across the board and the question is, those people are out now doing TV appearances on television. They weren’t arrested by the FBI. I’m not sure they were investigated by the FBI. There are political appointees working for the FBI. I don’t fault you for that. I don’t know if you knew about that. That’s not my issue. My issue is your reputation is that there are political appointees in the FBI that have been interfering, or at least working towards a political agenda in the agency for quite some time, and we need to fix that.

Director Wray (34:08):

Well, I look forward to working with you. I will say that, just to be clear, there are no political appointees in the FBI. Everybody in the FBI is a career civil servant. Unless you count me, and I’m a nominee.

Judge Carter (34:25):

You’re career, too. As long as you behave.

Director Wray (34:27):

There are no political appointees. That’s different from most other agencies in the federal government. As to some of the individuals that you diplomatically referred to, these are our individuals. I’ve turned over the entire leadership team since I joined the FBI. I’ve put in place all kinds of new policies, procedures, trainings, systems enhancements, all to reinforce that sort of top line message that I was describing to you a minute ago, which is they we’re going to follow the facts wherever they need, no matter who likes it, and individual cases, individual investigations. We could engage on those, but my experience has been that a lot of times, because we’re somewhat hamstrung in our ability to talk about some of the things we do, we may not do ourselves any favors in our ability to explain what’s really going on. But I appreciate your concerns.

Judge Carter (35:27):

And I’ve dealt with the FBI, and I know you don’t comment on pending or impending cases. I’ve heard that many, many times. That’s not my issue. And it sounds like you did what I’m just asking about. That’s exactly what I want to hear, is you internally looked at this and you found people caring about politics more than law enforcement. I hope they have found someplace else to hang their hat besides the FBI. That’s the question I was answering. I think you answered it fairly well, and so I’ve got more to ask you later. Thank you.

Mike Rogers (36:04):

Mr. Ruppersberger.

Dutch Ruppersberger (36:06):

Thank you. Thank you for being here, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I’m going to focus on FISA, it’s an important tool that you have. Director Wray reauthorizing FISA is a top priority for this administration, and from my time as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, I fully understand the importance of this program and the need to make sure we will have the authority available to keep our country safe. At a March 8th, Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, DNI Director Haynes reaffirmed of that 702’s crucial role in mitigating national security, saying Section 702 permits intelligence gathering against foreign targets at a speed and rate reliability, the United States cannot replicate with any other authority. February of this year, a letter was sent from the administration to congressional leadership. Let me read some of those successes.

The letter reads, “Over the last 15 years, Section 702 has proven invaluable again and again in protecting American lives and US National Security. Section 702 has been used to identify and protect against national security threats to United States and its allies to include both conventional and cyber threats. Posed by people’s Republic of China, Russia, Iran, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 702 acquired information that has been used to identify multiple foreign ransomware attacks on US critical infrastructure. This intelligence is positioned the US government to respond and to mitigate these events and in some instances prevent significant attacks on the US networks. Section 702 acquired information related to the sanctioned foreign adversaries was used in US government efforts to stop components for weapons of mass destruction from reaching foreign actors.” Almost there. “Section 702 has identified threats to US troops and disrupted planned terrorist attacks, both at home and abroad, and contributed to the state’s successful operation against Anwar Sawari,” and those of us who have been around know who he is and what he was. “Section 702 has resulted in the identification and disruption of hostile foreign actors attempt to recruit spies in the United States for, or send their operatives to the United States. 702 information has identified key economic security risks, including strategic malign investment by foreign actors in certain US companies.” Here’s my question, and it’s in three parts. If the intelligence community, including the FBI loses access to 702, how would that impact our ability to counter the growing threat from China? Two, also, how 702 impacts the FBI ability to fight back against cyber attacks. Three, can you talk a little about 702 reforms have been implemented since the last reauthorization? And four, can you talk a little about the 702 reforms that FBI supports? That’s a lot, but that’s it.

Director Wray (39:18):

Well, thank you Congressman. Needless to say, I obviously strongly agree about what an indispensable tool 702 is. I’ll try to answer as quickly as I can. On China, in a world without 702, the FBI would have lost one of its most powerful tools to detect attempts by Chinese hackers to preposition on our cyber and critical infrastructure systems, and to root out those hackers before they can act, or to stop foreign cyber attacks while in progress. Almost every day through our 702 intelligence, we see evidence of China’s efforts to surveil and steal information about our military, about our advanced technologies, to hack our critical infrastructure, and even to run influence and intimidation campaigns against Americans and Chinese dissidents here. And so without 702, the intelligence community would be blinded in an ever evolving digital world, much of what I just said would apply to cyber more generally because of course, the Chinese, although they have the biggest hacking program in the world, are hardly the only cyber threat.

And so it’s a very important tool for us against the Russians, against the Iranians and other dangerous foreign adversaries. As to the reforms, I have put in place a whole slew of reforms, especially, especially on 702, especially over the last 18 months or so. Those include all sorts of new policies and procedures, new training, new systems changes, new oversights, new safeguards, new approvals, new double checks. I stood up a whole new office of internal audit. There was no such thing at the FBI before. We have an inspection division, which does great work, but we stood up an office of internal audit, brought back a retired agent who had gone on to be a partner at a Big Four accounting firm to help us stand that up. And we’re working with another Big Four accounting firm to help make sure that the audit program we’ve built out is best in class, and it is specifically, specifically focused on FISA compliance.

And the reason I bring those things up is that almost every report the members of this subcommittee would’ve seen about compliance violations and incidents that we’ve had in the past, even though some of those reports came out in the last, let’s say six months to a year, they all cover time periods that predate those reforms. And so, I’m confident that the reforms that we’ve put in place as we start getting more and more new information, more recent information will show that we’ve made significant progress. But I also want to be clear that this is not a one and done for me.

This is something I take very seriously, and that this is a long-term project that we’re going to be constantly improving, constantly looking for ways to tighten up and improve our compliance, because I think that’s part of being a high performing organization on a program that is so important, and I just cannot underscore enough the importance of 702 to the American people in terms of foreign threats. As somebody who in a past life, when I served in the Justice Department in the Bush administration, and was in FBI headquarters on 9/11 and spent time with the families of the 9/11 victims, and during my time as Assistant Attorney General, I never want to have to look at families and tell them there was something we could have done that was fully constitutional, that we chose not to do to help keep them safe.

Dutch Ruppersberger (43:13):

Thank you, Adam. I’m sorry about the overage. Mr. Chairman.

Mike Rogers (43:16):

Mr. Garcia?

Mike Garcia (43:17):

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Director Wray, again, good to see you. I want to first of all, thank you for your service and the service of the agents in your department. Very important mission you have. I want to talk about things that are important for me. National security is important for me. Taking care of our military base pay is important. They make $21,000 a year. I’m pushing to get them to minimum wage of $31,000 a year. Everywhere I go to a member, I talk about this because it’s important to me. I give floor speeches. I will be doing that again because it’s important to me. Every committee hearing I’m in, I talk about military base pay because it’s important to me. This is what we do when things are important to us, we make sure that we’re talking about them consistently and we’re chasing funding for those missions or whatever we consider to be important.

I’m concerned that the president, in a year where he is at the top line asked for about, I think a 12% increase across all federal agencies, only asked for a 0.3% increase for your budget. That to me, messages to Congress that he doesn’t value the mission of the FBI, frankly, especially relative to other federal agencies. I’m concerned also with regards to this FISA conversation that you haven’t mentioned FISA until my colleague from Maryland brought it up. We had Attorney General Garland in a hearing just a couple of weeks ago. He never mentioned FISA until I asked him about it. We’ve had discussions on the Intelligence Committee about how important it is, and I understand how important it is, but I don’t get the sense you said, we can’t underscore the importance enough of 702, but I actually think you need to underscore the importance of it a little bit more, okay?

You can’t go to 435 members or six different committees and just say it’s important. I can guarantee you, you won’t have the votes in December. This policy, this tool turns into a pumpkin in December. It’s been in place since 2008. We all understand the value and the importance of it, and I’ve seen the data that you’ve shown us in the tank and it’s extremely important. But unless you execute a capture plan, and I’ve communicated this to Director Haynes at at DNI and NSA, as well as your counterparts at CIA, and I communicated this to the Attorney General, this renewal isn’t just going to fall into your lap, and it’s not our job to be your business development guys on the policy side, it’s not the job of the Intel Committee to be your spokespersons on the policy side. We need you to do the following three things, and I’m going to lay this capture plan out for you, just like I did the other entities I just talked about.

You have to educate every member on Congress on why it’s important, the different flavors of FISA and the products that these products feed into. Okay? That’s pillar one. Pillar two is what I call repent and remedy. Okay? There needs to be a public acknowledgement that FISA has been abused, and in an either classified or unclassified environment, explain what protocols have changed, what policies have changed, how we’re holding people accountable. We’ve talked about some of these things in the appropriate spaces, but demonstrate to members of Congress that changes have been implemented such that the abuses that we’ve seen, that we acknowledge, that we admit to will not happen again. Okay? Very important that this second pillar is executed between now and December. And then the last pillar, which I think is just as important as the first two, is the accountability piece.

We need a pound of flesh, okay? We need to know that someone has been fired. My understanding is no one has been arrested for the sort of abuses… Not sort of, the abuses of FISA of any flavor in the past. No one has been fired or arrested because of these abuses. We’ve had investigations that have been going on for years and we haven’t seen any conclusion of those things. So I’m telling you that if all we do is try to educate members of Congress, everyone will recognize it’s important and no one will vote for the extension of it before December.

If you don’t also repent and show the remedy and the protocol changes that have taken place because of the abuses, and you don’t also demonstrate that people have been held accountable for it, I can almost assure you as someone who sits on CJS, Act-D, Intelligence, that you won’t have the votes as much as we try, we won’t be able to get to a majority to support the extension. So feel free to comment on it. Take it as counsel, but I’m telling you, if it’s important to you, you guys need to be proactively bringing this up in every single committee hearing, every single engagement with a member of Congress to include the Senate and show us that it’s important to you. Otherwise, we’re going to be in December telling you we don’t have the votes. You didn’t make it seem like it was important to you.

Director Wray (48:05):

Well, respectful of the time, I’ll just say that I look forward to working with you and the rest of the members, especially on the intelligence committees, and I appreciate you flagging the possibility that my not mentioning it in earlier exchanges could be misconstrued in some way. Obviously, I was trying to be responsive on questions about fentanyl, which is something I also know is very important to you, and organized crime, which I also know, like me is very important. And so it’s one of the challenges of time limits in these kinds of settings, but certainly point taken and look forward to working with you on these.

Mike Garcia (48:41):

Thank you, director. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mike Rogers (48:42):

Mr. Trone?

David Trone (48:45):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for having us here today, and director, thank you for your service. I really appreciate it. And it’s tough sometimes, but thank you very much. Well, Ranking Member Cartwright’s already spoke a good bit about the whole issue of cutting 22% back. And when we hear what the talking points out there, it’s really two things. Fentanyl, and then our country’s less safe. So on the fentanyl side, 108,000 deaths overdoses, 80% were fentanyl. Could you talk a little bit about Jalisco Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, and talk about how they have infiltrated the US a little bit? What you can say in an unclassified setting, the strength, and how it’s gone from end to end in our country, and then what would happen to you with those type of devastating cuts of 22%, and that ability, again, as Mr. Cartwright talked about the work with local and state law enforcement as your partners.

Director Wray (49:45):

So I appreciate the question. I guess a couple things. The first thing I would say, and the chairman and I had a conversation about this point, which is that as alarming as the 107,000, 108,000 overdose death number is, and should be to everyone in America. The untold story is that because of greater availability of Narcan and better first response, which is a good thing for America, that number is actually in some ways better than the problem really is, because there’s more overdose that are being adequately responded to and people are being resuscitated, and that’s a good thing. But if you’re trying to measure how serious the problem is, how big the threat is, in some ways, the overdose deaths, as shocking as 107,000 is in some ways doesn’t quite do it justice. The cartels, obviously, we just had a major indictment. The chairman referenced it related to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Jalisco Cartel is obviously very significant too. I mentioned that we have transnational organized crime task forces that are focused specifically on that threat. We work on the OSEV strike forces against the threat. I think part of the reason it’s so challenging, what you have essentially are precursors, very heavily coming from China, and there’s actors in China who seem all too willing, all too happy to send these chemicals to Mexico, where they’re then produced by the cartels, sent across the border and distributed by gangs here in the United States, all over the country.

And one of the challenges about something like fentanyl is that the cartels no longer require acres of farmland, or to wait for a harvest or something like that, right? These are things that can be done all year long in very small spaces that are harder to detect, easier to get across the border. And then, if you combine that with the potency, the lethality of the substance, and you combine that with the fact that it’s now finding its way into all sorts of other drugs, including prescriptions that are essentially adulterated, you start to get a sense of why this is such a almost epically and historically challenging subject.

David Trone (52:14):

To kind of sum it up. We’ve got this product that’s 30 times cheaper to make per kilo than heroin, 50 times more potent than heroin. And would you just give me a yes or a no answer? These budget cuts, will that mean we have many more dead Americans?

Director Wray (52:30):

I just don’t see how it could be otherwise. As I’ve said in response to an earlier question, we have seizures, especially from our offices that touch the border, but not exclusively, all the time, that in one seizure are seizing enough fentanyl that if distributed would’ve been enough to wipe out an entire state in terms of the dosage. So you just take away five or six seizures, and you’ve got significant impact.

David Trone (52:58):

And I think your point about the overdose tests have been prevented by Narcan is a really good point, because sometimes we’re looking at, things are trending even, and we’re trying to declare victory. But if it wasn’t for the Narcan, wow, we’d be underwater completely. Take for one second, I only have a minute left, but during this appropriations hearing has been on to talk about the budgetary needs, there’s been a lot of opportunities to score sound bites on the other side, on baseless theories attacking the FBI and our thousands of patriotic agents trying to protect us from all these threats. Talk about morale, the FBI on the unfounded political attacks. How does that affect your ability to recruit and retain?

Director Wray (53:40):

So of course, our people are human just like anybody else, and nobody likes to see the organization they’ve dedicated their careers to, their lives to, their families to, unfairly criticized. But I will tell you that our people are focused on the mission, on the work, on who they serve, and are recruiting, as I mentioned, in response to Judge Carter’s question has actually been going very well. It’s gone up very significantly since I’ve been in this role after the first couple years where it was sort of flat. Then 2019 it started, went up significantly. This year, applications are coming in faster than they did last year, and we’re at an all-time high in terms of the number of onboard agents. So in terms of law enforcement professionals, 30% to 40% of them that are former military, former law enforcement, 50% of them have advanced degrees. These are people with a lot of choices in this job market, and they’re registering their view of the FBI by trying to sign up and devote their lives to working with us.

Inside the organization, our attrition rate, by that I mean people retiring early is less than 1%, which is better than probably any public or private organization out there, and the number of people applying for extensions past mandatory retirement age is high. And it’s again in this pretty competitive job market. So, while I wish that we weren’t unfairly criticized, of course, but everybody at Quantico gets asked, “What is your why?” And nobody’s why is, “Well, I don’t want to get criticized.” Everybody’s why is, “I want to serve the American people.” And as long as we can keep doing that and working with the great people we get to work with will be okay.

David Trone (55:34):

Well, thank you for your resilience. I yield back.

Mike Rogers (55:37):

Mr. Clyde.

Andrew Clyde (55:39):

Thank you, chairman. Director, I guess this is our first meeting. I hear you’re from Georgia, my home state. Regarding the raid on Mar-a-Lago, last summer, the Justice Department filed an application for a search and seizure warrant of Mar-a-Lago citing probable cause that additional presidential records and records containing classified information remained in various parts of the residence. The FBI executed this search and raided Mar-a-Lago and has been investigating President Trump for alleged improper handling of classified information and presidential records ever since. Director Wray, are you familiar with the Presidential Records Act?

Director Wray (56:19):

I mean, only in the most general sense. I’m not a subject matter expert, nor am I currently practicing as a lawyer.

Andrew Clyde (56:27):

Only in the most general of sense. Okay. The Presidential Records Act, 44 USC 2201 is the controlling statute for presidential records, and I have a copy of it right here, if you’d like to see it. Was the Presidential Records Act referenced in the request for a warrant?

Director Wray (56:47):

I would just refer you to the warrant.

Andrew Clyde (56:51):

I’m asking you a question.

Director Wray (56:53):

I don’t have the warrant in front of me, so I can’t sitting here right now tell you exactly which statutes were referenced in the warrant from August.

Andrew Clyde (57:00):

I mean, this is one of the most historic raids and warrants ever done in this country. Never, ever done before. And you don’t know what the warrant says.

Director Wray (57:09):

I didn’t decide to know what the warrant says. I don’t have the specific details in front of me of exactly which statutory code references are in the warrant.

Andrew Clyde (57:19):

Are there any criminal penalties attached to the Presidential Records Act?

Director Wray (57:25):

Well, again, I think that’s a legal question, but my general recollection is not directly, but I’m not certain of that.

Andrew Clyde (57:33):

You’re correct. There are no criminal penalties attached to the Presidential Records Act. Under the Presidential Records Act, the President is allowed to have all his records from his time as president. Is that correct?

Director Wray (57:46):

Well, again, now you’re asking me for a legal opinion about the scope of the Presidential Records Act, and I would refer you to the special counsel conducting the investigation on that.

Andrew Clyde (57:54):

According to statute, presidential records are defined as any document created or received by the president or his staff for your information, it does not exclude classified documents either, and that’s right from the US code right here. So President Trump had complete authority to unilaterally declassified documents, correct?

Director Wray (58:20):

Again, now you’re asking me for a legal question and now you’re asking me for a legal question in relation to an ongoing investigation being led by special counsel. So I certainly understand why you’re asking the question. I respect that, but it’s not something that I can answer.

Andrew Clyde (58:34):


Director Wray (58:35):


Andrew Clyde (58:36):

It’s my understanding the President has that authority, the Vice President and a Senator does not. Is that correct?

Director Wray (58:43):

Same answer.

Andrew Clyde (58:44):

All right. According to the Presidential Records Act, personal records are excluded from the Act’s preservation requirements. Are you familiar with the 2001 sock drawer case, in which plaintiff petitioned the court to consider whether tapes found located in President Clinton’s sock drawer, many containing conversations with foreign leaders and therefore classified were to be considered personal records or official records? Are you familiar with that case at all? I mean, you’ve been in the Department of Justice for a very long time.

Director Wray (59:16):

I’m not. I can’t recall a case involving a sock drawer. I know there was a case involving the former national security advisor that who had served in the Clinton administration involving some classified documents, but I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring.

Andrew Clyde (59:33):

This is dealing with President Clinton himself.

Director Wray (59:36):

Yeah, that at least sitting here right now, I don’t immediately recognize it. Maybe if I saw something, it would come back to me.

Andrew Clyde (59:41):

Okay. Judge Amy Jackson’s opinion in that case, citing 44 USC 2203 Bravo. Judge Jackson ruled that in the court’s view, under the statutory scheme established by the Presidential Records Act, the decision to segregate personal materials from presidential records is made by the president during the president’s term and in his sole discretion. Considering Judge Jackson’s ruling, why do you believe the White House Counsel, Jonathan Su with President Biden’s approval waived President Trump’s executive privilege, when according to the Presidential Records Act, only President Trump had the authority to determine presidential versus personal records?

Director Wray (01:00:22):

So respectfully, there’s a couple things that go to your question. One is, again, you’re asking for a legal opinion, and I’m very careful as FBI director to stay in my lane, and the legal question should be referred to the Justice Department. But second, it sounds like in this particular instance, you’re asking me about what somebody else was thinking when they did or didn’t waive the privilege, and I can’t speak for them.

Andrew Clyde (01:00:47):

All right. What did it cost for the FBI to pursue this case and execute this raid?

Director Wray (01:00:52):

I don’t have a cost figure for you.

Andrew Clyde (01:00:54):

Can you provide that for me?

Director Wray (01:00:56):

I can see if there’s information we can provide you. I’ll certainly have my staff follow up with you. I don’t know if there’s information we can provide, but I’ll look into it.

Andrew Clyde (01:01:03):

All right. Thank you. And I yield back.

Mike Rogers (01:01:05):

Mr. Ellzey.

Jake Ellzey (01:01:08):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Director Wray, thank you for being here. I like to thank your family for carrying the strain for what you do as well. The families of folks like you, the DEA administrator folks in the military. The families bear the burden just as much as the member does. And in your role for the last six years as the director of FBI, you are the target of many, many threats overseas, and here at home as well, from organized crime to drug cartels, to foreign militaries. I thank you for your sacrifice and your service in that regard.

Sometimes I open these questions up because the FBI topic sometimes becomes very popular, and I’ll open these questions up to my constituents, see if they have a question for the director when I might be having a chance to talk to him. So I’ve got one right here, and I really like it. The FBI has properly earned our respect over the years as an honest practitioner of the rule of law. Do you perceive the degree to which many Americans feel that the FBI sometimes casts a negative eye on people and groups for political reasons?

Director Wray (01:02:08):

I think the men and women of the FBI are dedicated, principled, objective public servants and patriots. We are a 38,000 person organization. We’ve been around for 115 or so years and like any organization, we’ve had people that have made mistakes and we’ve taken action where we can, with the tools that we have to deal with those mistakes. I think your constituents question in some ways goes to a broader phenomenon that I see in today’s world, which is that all too often in today’s world, people’s standard for whether they think something was fair or objective or independent boils down to whether or not they like the outcome or not, whether their side won or lost.

That could be a Supreme Court decision. It could be any number of trials around this country. But if we get to a place where people decide that something was corrupt or lacking integrity because we don’t like the outcome, then we’re in a bad place. And especially when more and more those kinds of feelings then turn into violence, then we got a real problem. That’s why we see so many threats against law enforcement, unfortunately all over the country. So I hope that we at the FBI, by trying to make sure that we’re doing the right thing in the right way can earn the trust of your constituents.

Jake Ellzey (01:03:41):

Thank you. That’s a great answer. Let’s get something substantive. Title 42 is a rule dealing with the removal of illegal immigrants where an infectious disease is present. It’s enforced by the Border Patrol, stops illegal immigrants from entering the United States on the grounds of a public health emergency. President Biden wants to repeal Title 42, and he wants to do so by May 23rd.

Jake Ellzey (01:04:01):

… Now the FBI handles the collection of DNA from federal criminal cases and is already backlogged as it is. So if Title 42 is lifted, how does that affect the volume of DNA that y’all have to process? That can’t be good.

Director Wray (01:04:16):

Well, I don’t have the figures right in front of me, but I can assure you … although I’m looking, but I can assure you that the sheer number of these DNA samples that we’re processing that CBP collects at the border that we’re then testing in order to potentially solve any number of violent crimes, we’re talking about sexual assaults, homicides. So this is important work, and often the DNA is the secret sauce. It’s the critical piece that solves the crime. And the number has been going up significantly, which is why we’ve made the request that we did. I think this year it’s up dramatically from last year. And if Title 42 goes the way, your question, I think anticipates and the way we’re anticipating, I think the number’s going to go through the roof, hence the budget request enhancement that we’ve made.

Jake Ellzey (01:05:10):

Okay, when we’re talking about the border, I’m not going to ask you anything that’s not under your purview, but when we talk about the threats that we’re facing overseas, the Chinese often come up, asymmetric warfare is a part of what they are accomplishing here. The cartels don’t see us as customers, they see us as the enemy, and they’re killing us at a rate not seen since World War II. 287 overdoses a day, 200 coming from fentanyl. 305 Americans lost their lives every day in World War II. So as we talk about China and their threat asymmetrically in the time I have left, the Chinese police stations, we closed down a facility in Houston, and the Chinese police stations are coming up significantly and a lot. Are y’all working very hard to shut those down where you can find them?

Director Wray (01:06:02):

Well, you mentioned two things, and they’re both reflections of the Chinese government’s, in my view, contempt for the rule of law and international norms. In Houston, we worked with Secretary Pompeo at the time and closed the Houston Consulate, which was being misused by the Chinese government for all sorts of activities that we’re just not going to tolerate in this country. Then secondly, there are the so-called police stations that have been set up in a number of countries without proper coordination that are in many instances at least illegal.

And I called this out in testimony early last fall or mid last fall, we recently were able to conduct law enforcement actions and one in New York was shut down. We’ve announced some arrests, I think just last week, I think it was, that included among other things, obstruction of justice charges. And it’s frankly outrageous that the Chinese government would think that it could set up shop here on our soil and conduct uncoordinated, unsanctioned, illegal law enforcement operations. And unfortunately, it fits in with a pattern of the Chinese government trying to basically run willy-nilly disregard for the rule of law and threaten, harass, stalk, surveil dissidents, many cases Chinese Americans here in the United States. And it’s not just happening in the United States, unfortunately, which is why the FBI is working closely with some of our counterparts in other countries where the Chinese government has shown a similar contempt for, again, international norms and the rule of law.

Jake Ellzey (01:07:45):

Thank you, Mr. Ray. Mr. Chairman, I’ve gone over, I apologize. I’ll yield back.

Chairman Rogers (01:07:48):

Mr. Cline.

Mr. Cline (01:07:51):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you director for being here. Let’s talk about that contempt for the rule of law. Americans are willing to accept outcomes that they don’t agree with. In contrast to your answer to Mr. Ellzey, what they are not willing to accept, what I am not willing to accept, what the American people are not willing to tolerate and what I am not willing to tolerate are when outcomes are influenced by actions of your agents. They’re outraged. And so am I. So let’s talk about FISA. In FISA section 702 at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Worldwide Threats hearing in March, you noted that warrantless searches of Americans communications and Section 702 data are down 93% year over year. FBI officials told the New York Times that the number is around 204,000 searches per year compared to as many as 3.4 million in 2021. So let me ask you, did our national security threats drop 93% or had the FBI been conducting millions of unnecessary warrantless searches of Americans’ private communications?

Director Wray (01:08:53):

Well, so first I would disagree with you that what was described in the report were warrantless searches of Americans’ communications. 702 is a tool that is fully consistent with the Fourth Amendment, and the report in question does not find that the queries were in violation of the Fourth Amendment-

Mr. Cline (01:09:20):

Okay, well, we’ll talk about that.

Director Wray (01:09:21):

Or anything else. But as to the other part of your question, the biggest chunk of the number of query terms, and again, each of these query terms are not individual people, but for instance, for one person, multiple email addresses or something like that, helped them to identify victims of cyber attacks in particular that year. An awful lot of the cyber attacks were coming from the Russians, but in some cases it would be the Chinese. And I think the safeguards, the procedures that we’ve built in have all led to a more surgical use of the authorities that we have, not necessarily eliminating queries that themselves were violative of any rules, but it does mean that the effect of all of the changes that we’ve put in place, I think has brought, again, a more surgical approach to how our people run queries. And I think it’s important for people to understand that these queries are running queries through information that is already lawfully collected. It’s a not unlike, everybody can relate to this, if you have your email inbox-

Mr. Cline (01:10:36):

That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

Director Wray (01:10:37):

And you run a query to find out all emails from Congressman Cline, for example.

Mr. Cline (01:10:43):

Okay, former NSA General Counsel Gerstel has been telling the press that the FBI can only do this if there’s some foreign connection involved in the investigation, not just for some routine domestic crime. But when asked for clarification, the FBI released a statement saying, “That generally there must be some nexus to a foreign power or from some factual connection to international terrorism, espionage or foreign computer intrusions for the FBI to run these searches for evidence of a crime.” But the FBI’s querying guidance that you released this week doesn’t include this requirement.

The guidance says that queries in investigations related to crimes within nexus to a foreign power or target of FISA collection or crimes that have a factual connection to international terrorism espionage or foreign computer intrusions are examples of situations that will tend to qualify. But nowhere does it say that such connections are required for these queries. Can you confirm that the FBI does not require analysts to have evidence of an nexus to a foreign power, foreign crime before Section 702 data for American’s communications?

Director Wray (01:11:41):

I think I would have to get … Sorry, microphone. I think in order to give you a comprehensive answer to that question, I would have to have our subject matter experts and lawyers follow back up with you, because precision here is very important, and I haven’t have the guidance in front of me, but I want to make sure that we give you the complete answer to your questions. I’m happy to follow up with you.

Mr. Cline (01:12:03):

Well, don’t you think that they should, and shouldn’t Congress codify that nexus requirement for these searches in order to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights?

Director Wray (01:12:13):

I’m not going to get into individual legislative fixes here. I’m going to work with the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the rest of the intelligence community and the Justice Department and with the Congress on potential adjustments, if any to 702.

Mr. Cline (01:12:28):

I’m also on judiciary, so I look forward to that. I yield back.

Director Wray (01:12:30):

Thank you.

Chairman Rogers (01:12:32):

Mr. Alderholt.

Mr. Alderholt (01:12:32):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, good to have you here today, Mr. Director. I appreciate the FBI’s efforts in addressing illicit activity in the US and the increased emphasis on the adversary’s intelligence threat against the United States, namely China. That said, the Department of Justice and the FBI continue to fall short in mitigating our adversary’s intelligence threat.

In 2019, for example, the FBI estimated that the United States incurs annual losses ranging from $225 to $600 billion annually in illicit activities by China. To put that in perspective, according to the President’s budget, all across all agencies, the US invested 142 billion in research and development. So if you look at those numbers, in 2019, China stole at least twice the amount of money we spent on federal research and development. So in looking at your FY ’24 budget request increase, the counter intelligent budget is increased by 4.5 million. But at the same time, the Bureau had requested 14.1 million for zero emission vehicles. And while I applaud your incredible efforts in addressing the Chinese threat, I guess really what many of us are having a hard time is reconciling these priorities when China steals our entire research and development budget annually. So understanding this is an unclassified environment that we’re in this afternoon, can you share your priorities to address these Chinese espionage threats?

Director Wray (01:14:42):

So I guess I want to start off by being crystal clear that as I’ve said consistently for years now, that in my view there is no country that presents a more significant threat to our innovation, our ideas, our economic security, our national security than the Chinese government, and that’s why we’ve grown the number of investigations into threats from China about 1300%. And it wasn’t that long ago when I checked and we were opening a new investigation related to the Chinese government about every 12 hours. So our folks were working hard on the threat, and that is for me, at the top of the list I’m talking about with my people every single day. The budget request, there’s a little bit of apple to orange there. We have hundreds of millions of dollars in counterintelligence initiatives, and of course the lion’s share of those are focused on China.

And as far as the increase, the enhancement, the 4.5 million number that you referenced comes on the heels of last year, which we’re very grateful to this subcommittee for, an increase of 34 million and 88 position. So it’s part of a multi-year growth by us. The zero emissions vehicle thing is simply the FBI following an executive order that’s been applied to every federal agency, so we had to have that in our budget. But you can be confident that any resources that the Congress sees willing to send our way to fight the Chinese government threat, we will put to good use. Our folks, when I say they’re opening an investigation, at least they were last time I checked about every 12 hours, it sure as heck ain’t because they don’t have something else to do with their time.

Mr. Alderholt (01:16:33):


Director Wray (01:16:34):

As we’ve discussed here with all the other threats we’re facing. So we are working very hard with it, but the reality is if there’s one thing the Chinese government can bring to the table, it’s scale. And then if there’s a second thing that can bring to the table, it’s centralized control. So you put scale and centralized control together, and it’s a significant challenge for everybody in the intelligence community. For us, the key to fighting back is partnerships, is partnerships with the other agencies in the intelligence community, with our foreign partners, our allies with the business community, because a awful lot of what the Chinese are trying to steal is in the hands of the business community, with academia. They’re trying to steal our research, so working with universities. And so the way for us to meet them on the playing field, if you will, is through partnerships. And that’s been a big part of our focus because we’re not single-handedly going to be able to investigate our way out of this particular threat.

As I mentioned in my opening statement on the cyber side, the Chinese government, even if all of our cyber personnel did nothing but China, and of course there’s a lot else in the cyber world besides just China, the Chinese government hackers would outnumber us 50 to one. So it’s a significant asymmetric, I think, to use the word that was used before, issue. But we are growing, and I wouldn’t read too much into the difference between the 4.5 versus the 14.1. The 14.1 is simply us implementing an executive order that we, like every agency are required to.

Mr. Alderholt (01:18:14):

Well, certainly I know your commitment, but I do want to stress the importance of really doing everything we can to protect our investments. And I’ll yield back.

Chairman Rogers (01:18:26):

Mr. Director, we want to be mindful of the demands that face you on time with us, but we have members who would like to ask a few more questions if you are able. And I will open and yield myself time to talk about something you mentioned in your opening statement, and Mr. Ellzey came through with as well. And that’s the DNA collections. And in 2020, DHS mandated an expansion of DNA collections to all non-US persons detained under the authority of the United States, including individuals detained for removal proceedings, migrants seeking entry to the US for asylum purposes or individuals apprehended after crossing into the US. DHS, I’m told forwards the collected DNA samples to the FBI, which processes them, stores the resulting profiles in the combined DNA index system. How many samples is the FBI currently receiving for DHS per month, and how is that expected to change upon the ending of Title 42?

Director Wray (01:19:55):

So thank you, Mr. Chairman. These were the numbers I was looking for in response to Congressman Ellzey’s question, but I’ve now managed to find them. We during just the first quarter of fiscal year ’23, received more than 130,000 samples collected by DHS at the border, but we expect that once Title 42 is rescinded, the number will jump by around 30,000 additional samples per month. So that gives you a sense of the fairly blistering pace that our folks are having to engage in to test all these samples. And again, time is of the essence, because in many cases, these are leading to and solving sexual assaults, homicides, and other serious crimes.

Chairman Rogers (01:20:46):

Does the budget request fully cover the estimated funding needs, assuming Title 42 ends this year? And what will be the impact of the ending of Title 42 on your crime lab capacity?

Director Wray (01:21:03):

Well, we’ve put forward a budget request that will help us meet the need that we’re trying to project. It is obviously a bit of an educated guess as to the pace, but we put forward a budget request that is designed to meet that, but I can assure the subcommittee and you, Mr. Chairman that whatever resources the subcommittee sees fit to send our way on this issue will be put to good use. Because in addition to processing the DNA samples caused by this collection at the border, of course, our folks are solving crimes left and right from samples that are submitted by state and local law enforcement all over the country, by federal investigations all over the country. So there’s always a certain amount of backlog in its own right. And so we are concerned, to the last part of your question, that the effect of Title 42 being rescinded will be a dramatic increase in the number of samples that we’ll have to test, hence the enhancement request.

Chairman Rogers (01:22:11):

How many facilities do you have for processing samples, and what’s the current backlog?

Director Wray (01:22:19):

In order to give you that information, I’d have to have my staff follow up with you on that, but I can certainly have them do that.

Chairman Rogers (01:22:25):

Please do. Is this situation impacting your ability to timely analyze crime scene samples, and how is processing of those samples prioritized?

Director Wray (01:22:41):

I would have to ask our lab director to give you how we handle the prioritization. I think it may be a little bit complicated to explain that adequately. It is certainly impacting the pace at which we can get through the samples, there’s just no question about it. And the number’s been growing and we anticipate that growth to kind of go like this once Title 42 is rescinded.

Chairman Rogers (01:23:11):

Are there any other agencies that could help handle that workload?

Director Wray (01:23:18):

I think we’re the main answer to the problem. We’re the main place in which the samples are tested. There are other labs, of course, around the country that do DNA testing some, but I think the lion’s share of the work falls on our laboratory division.

Chairman Rogers (01:23:40):

Skipping back again to the cartels. What is the answer to the question about the ability to track down, analyze, plot, and diagram response to the huge profound problem that we face with fentanyl?

Director Wray (01:24:09):

Well, it’s a multidisciplinary problem requiring multidisciplinary solution. I think it requires not just the intelligence community working together, the law enforcement community, federal, state and local working together, but also law enforcement in Mexico working with us. We have very good relationships at the working level with our law enforcement counterparts, but let’s be clear, I think there’s more the Mexican government can and should do to help us with this problem, and we hope that they will.

And obviously the flow of precursors from China to Mexico. Every time there’s one that gets listed as a controlled substance, there’s another one that pops up in its stead, and so that’s a part of the problem. And then of course, we’ve got the whole distribution network here in the US. We’re routinely taking down, dismantling gangs, violent gangs, often neighborhood gangs that are distributing this stuff, peddling this dangerous stuff to communities all across the country. Then at the end of all of that, then you have the awareness raising peace to try to help deal with the demand side of it as well, hence my use of the word epidemic. It’s grown to such a scale that it really does require a whole lot of different tools, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomacy, financial health, social services, education. It’s the whole waterfront because that’s just how gigantic the problem is.

Chairman Rogers (01:25:54):

It’s going to take an all government attack?

Director Wray (01:25:57):

More than government, even. It’s really a whole of society response.

Chairman Rogers (01:26:02):

But on the cartels specifically, are you satisfied that we have an all government attack on the problem?

Director Wray (01:26:12):

I think the federal government I think is working well across agencies to try to go after the problem, but the cartels are sophisticated adversaries that are well-funded from all their illegal activity and have their own share of advantages where they’re located. And so more needs to be done to go after them, but we are constantly coming up with new strategies, ways to try to cut off their funding, to penetrate their organizations, to get information about them, to develop cooperators and sources, to collect intelligence on their activities, to figure out how to maximize impact against them. And we’ve had some successes, some important successes, and some key extraditions that have occurred that show that they do have to have a credible fear or threat from US courts and US prisons. And there’s nothing that makes me smile more broadly than seeing a cartel leader in an orange jumpsuit.

Chairman Rogers (01:27:25):

Amen. Thank you for your service, Mr. Director. Mr. Cartwright.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:27:31):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I echo everything the chairman just said about an all government approach. We have to engage in all that war on this heinous problem that’s infecting our nation, and I thank you for your efforts in taking on that war. In fact, in my own congressional district in 2020, under your tenure, the FBI assisted in the arrest and prosecution of a man who was caught selling fentanyl that resulted in a fatal overdose in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We understand that, and it’s something that goes all over the country. Well, Director Ray, you got a question earlier about political appointees and political agendas at the FBI. Just to make it very crystal clear, how many political appointees are there at the FBI?

Director Wray (01:28:35):


Ranking Member Cartwright (01:28:36):

That would be you?

Director Wray (01:28:37):

Yes. I don’t think of myself as a political appointee, but I guess technically I am the one political appointee since I was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:28:46):

In fact, what was the name of the president who nominated you to be the Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Criminal Division in 2003?

Director Wray (01:28:58):

President George W. Bush.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:29:00):

And what president nominated you to be the director of the FBI?

Director Wray (01:29:04):

President Donald Trump.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:29:05):

Okay. Well, one thing that you didn’t get to in your testimony, you gave us a very fulsome written statement before that couldn’t possibly be read in five minutes, but one thing you didn’t get to in great detail was the Hive ransomware. You mentioned there’s all kinds of varieties of ransomware, but in January, 2023, the DOJ and the FBI announced the success of an FBI investigation against Hive ransomware. Tell us about that.

Director Wray (01:29:42):

So the Hive ransomware take down was a very significant operation for a number of reasons. First, I should say, the Hive ransomware hit victims all over the country, and to some extent all over the world, and many of the victims were in particular in the healthcare sector, which to me is a particularly pernicious type of ransomware because you’re talking about putting not just hospitals or other types of healthcare facilities’ finances at risk, but you’re talking about putting patient care at risk with ransomware attacks. But the reason the Hive take down was so important is that we were able to essentially hack the hackers and get into their infrastructure. And while they didn’t realize it, every time there was a new decryption key available in their infrastructure, we could essentially take it and then make it available to the victims, which then meant that the ransomware victims to the tune of, I think something like 1300 victims. These are all organizations, hospitals, medical clinics, specialty clinics-

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:30:51):

Didn’t have to pay the ransom?

Director Wray (01:30:52):

They didn’t have to pay the ransom. In some cases, they had already paid the ransom and we were able to unlock it, but other cases, we were able to get the keys so they didn’t have to pay it, and I think ended up saving these healthcare institutions something like $130 million. And some of these are-

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:31:07):

$130 million?

Director Wray (01:31:07):

Some of these are small clinics too. We had one I can remember where we had a FBI case agent and computer scientists raced out. The clinic was so small that the doctor was also the guy that ran the IT for the clinic there. And so we were able to help them.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:31:26):

This is a very scary problem for American businesses and hospitals and all sorts of entities that rely on computers. We all rely on computers. So the FBI was able to step in and interrupt them being held for ransom, saved 130 million in ransoms being paid, but the problem is not enough businesses report being stuck up for ransom because of ransomware. Something like 70, 75% of businesses don’t report it. Why is that and what can we do about that?

Director Wray (01:32:08):

Well, I guess the good news is that more and more businesses are reporting because they’re starting to realize why it makes sense for them to do that, but it is true that Hive helped expose that an awful lot of victims were not reporting. And I think in some cases it’s that the organization that’s been targeted, whether it’s a hospital, a business, what have you, is worried about reputational harm or something like that, or because they’re worried they’re going to be in trouble for paying the ransom. And what we say is, “Look, while we discourage paying the ransom, we understand it’s a hard decision and what’s most important is that you contact us as soon as you get hit.” And I like to use the analogy, we’ve all seen on the movies different kind of ransom, like a kidnapping. You’ve all seen those scenes where the parents and the kids have been kidnapped and they’re trying to figure out whether to pay the ransom, and they’re on the phone with the kidnapper, and you got the FBI agent there with the headset on and so forth.

This is the cyber equivalent of that. We want the company, the hospital, the school, whatever it is that’s been hit, whether they’re going to pay the ransom or not, to contact the local FBI field office because there are things we can do. In Congressman Clyde’s home state of Georgia and my home state as well, with Colonial Pipeline, because Colonial did the right thing and reached out to us early, we were able to work with Colonial and essentially claw back a big chunk of the ransom before it got to the bad guys and get it back to Colonial. And we can’t do that in every case, but that’s the kind of thing that we can do if we’re contacted early. And of course, the irony is that a couple weeks after we did that with Colonial, and again, they really were stand up and were smart about how they handled it.

There was another company that had quietly paid the ransom somewhere, and that essentially called us up and said, “Hey, we understand you can maybe get our money back?” That’s really not how it works, and we’d like to be able to help that other company, but once they’ve paid, time is of the essence and it’s paid in cryptocurrency and it scatters quickly. So if we’re going to follow the money and disrupt the attack, we need to be contacted quickly.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:34:25):

My time is up, but the moral of the story is contact the FBI?

Director Wray (01:34:29):

Yes, sir.

Ranking Member Cartwright (01:34:30):

I yield back. Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Rogers (01:34:32):

Judge Carter.

Judge Carter (01:34:34):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you. You’re doing a good job and I appreciate that. One quick question, then I want to get off to something else. The zero emissions vehicles, I asked same thing of the drug folks this morning. How does that align with services of the FBI? If those things run out of fuel, electric fuel in about after 300 miles. Does that help or does that hurt?

Director Wray (01:35:13):

Well, of course, the whole country is to some extent moving in a direction towards more of these types of vehicles. The reason it’s in our budget is quite simply because there’s an executive order and we’re trying to follow the executive order. But I can assure you that my priority for our people is to make sure that the mission comes first, and so they’re going to use whatever vehicles allow them to accomplish the mission. Over time, if we have to transition into different kinds of vehicles, we’re going to of course, follow the law and follow the executive order. But our priority is mission first, protecting the American people first, whether that’s on the border, whether that’s against the Chinese, whether it’s any number of the other threats we’ve talked about here.

Judge Carter (01:35:57):

I wouldn’t expect otherwise.

Judge Carter (01:36:00):

I think they just didn’t think through that executive order when it comes to law enforcement. At the first of your conversation here, you talked about arrests and indictments and so forth. Not all indictments would end in an arrest because you indict people that are not even in the country, all over the world. But on the arrests that you make, how many of those arrests are in jail, roughly? And how many of those arrests are out on bond? Because we have a real issue of the debate about cash bond right now in the country.

Director Wray (01:36:46):

So I don’t have the statistics for you here. I can tell you that on the problem that you’re alluding to is something, which is violent offenders ending up back out on the streets on bond is something that I hear about from chiefs and sheriffs constantly all over the country. And the only thing more frustrating to the hardworking men and women of law enforcement than arresting somebody who should have been behind bars in the first place, is having to arrest the same guy over and over again.

And on the federal side, happily, were less subject to some of the things that we’ve seen going on in communities around the country in terms of the impact on bail and bond and certain prosecution practices. So for the most part, under federal standards, federal magistrate judges we’re able to detain violent criminals relatively reliably. Again, I don’t have the statistics for you, but the problem you’re alluding to is a real one. It tends to be more in the state system. And I think that’s part of why our budget request on violent crime becomes so important, because what I hear from chiefs and sheriffs all the time is that they need, precisely because of the problem you’re bringing up, they need more of these cases taken federal because they feel like they can count on the bad guys staying locked up if they’re taken federal.

Judge Carter (01:38:21):

Good answer. Thank you.

Chairman Rogers (01:38:25):

Mr. Ruppersberger?

Dutch Ruppersberger (01:38:28):

I want to focus on violent crime and fentanyl and the serious problems that it has caused. Some of us were former prosecutors locally, and when you come from local government, you’re dealing with the issues. And then if you get involved and you’re not as large as jurisdiction, if you don’t go to the FBI, you can’t follow through with the investigation because you don’t have the money. And I think in the last maybe five years and under your leadership, the teamwork approach has really made a difference. And that that’s really important that we have the teamwork and the trust.

And it also, I think, deals with a lot of problems we’ve had in the past, especially with respect to drugs, but look at fentanyl, what’s going on, is it a corruption issue? And I think all, you always have to be aware of that. And if you’re going to have a strike force and then federal, state, and local, you need to be able to trust the people that you’re working with. But how can FBI be a force multiplier? Do we need more strike force type of investigations because they seem to really work well in the end as long as the leadership at the top understands that the people on the strike force respect each other.

A lot of feds get a lot of good intelligence, but they can’t act on it. But if it goes up the chain where the FBI has the money and state government to an extent too. So how do you focus as the head of the FBI, which I think you’re doing a good job, by the way, and your men and women that are there also. Do you think we need more strike force? Do you think it would help us better? And again, you have jurisdiction now internationally too. And how would you compare your mission internationally versus your mission internationally?

Director Wray (01:40:26):

So I appreciate the kind words, and I strongly, strongly believe that partnership is the way to go, really with all these threats. And the strategy that I rolled out for our workforce fairly early on was making partnership with our law enforcement partners, with our intelligence community partners, with the business community, et cetera, is to me the key. We’re trying to put our two, the FBI’s two together with somebody else’s two. It could be a local police department or sheriff’s office, it could be a foreign partner, whoever it is, putting our two plus their two and have it equal five or six or seven. It’s the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. And that’s what the task forces represent. On violent crime, we have, I think, something like 300 unique FBI-led task forces with like 3,000 members or something just on the violent crime side of things.

Dutch Ruppersberger (01:41:22):

Would that include gangs and-

Director Wray (01:41:23):

Absolutely. Gangs. In some cases, you’ve also got ones focusing on child predators and that kind of violent crime. We have the organized crime task forces that focus on the cartels. And there are a couple things that come out of that I think are critical ingredients. And so the short answer is yes, we need more and more of that. But one is, have everybody on one team, one fight, it’s using intelligence to figure out where you can make the inevitably limited resources, even when we’re all put together, make them count, make them maximize impact.

So what you see on violent crime as you go around the country is in almost every community, there’s going to be something, some tail that wags the dog, if you will, in terms of driving the violent crime rate and the homicide rate. It could be a particular neighborhood where you’ve got two gangs fighting with each other. It could be a particular corridor. Some cases it’s like four or five blocks in some community. It could be a particular set of gang members who keep getting up back out on the streets. But if you figure out what’s that two or three things in that community that are disproportionately driving, especially the homicide rate, and then team up and tackle that in a disciplined strategic way, you can have an impact on the statistic that we really care about, which is the actual violent crime rate, especially the homicide rate and drive it down.

And you can use federal tools like RICO, like VICAR, things like that where you can really dismantle the enterprise. So as happy as I am about the 55 guys a day that our folks were arresting last year, in some ways the more important number is the 370 or something gangs that we dismantled because now you’re talking about an entire gangs. Now you’re not just cutting off the tops of the blades of grass, now you’re getting down into the roots of the problem and ripping it out. And so that’s what I think is ultimately the key. And we’re very humbled by the task force officers that all of these chiefs and sheriffs all over the country are entrusting to our task forces. That to me, speaks volumes about what they think of the FBI and I want to make sure that they see the value from it and that we’re worthy of their trust.

Dutch Ruppersberger (01:44:03):

Okay. Thank you. I yield back.

Chairman Rogers (01:44:05):

Mr. Clyde?

Andrew Clyde (01:44:08):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Director, in your written statement here, you say that NICS, which is under the direction of the FBI, national, your 2024 request includes an additional 27 positions and $8.4 million. Now a NICS check is valid for 30 days, right?

Director Wray (01:44:37):

You mean in terms of the…

Andrew Clyde (01:44:39):

The background check.

Director Wray (01:44:40):

Well, we have to turn them around more quickly than that,

Andrew Clyde (01:44:45):


Director Wray (01:44:45):

Right, right.

Andrew Clyde (01:44:45):

Once you turn it around, it’s good for 30 days.

Director Wray (01:44:48):

Yeah, I think that’s right, but I can’t remember the exact number.

Andrew Clyde (01:44:51):

Okay. It is. And you’re asking for 27 additional positions, I assume, because you see the need for NICS checks going up?

Director Wray (01:45:03):

The answer, yes, is a short answer.

Andrew Clyde (01:45:05):


Director Wray (01:45:05):

And the reason for that in large part is because we’ve seen the number of the volume of background checks coming in from FFLs going up, and then on top of that, the bipartisan community, the BSCA that was passed, increases the number of checks that we have to do.

Andrew Clyde (01:45:27):

I get that.

Director Wray (01:45:28):

Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew Clyde (01:45:28):

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a background check be valid for longer than 30 days? If you had it longer than 30 days, wouldn’t that require fewer background checks and therefore you wouldn’t have to expand the NICS section? I mean, 30 days is a pretty short period of time.

Director Wray (01:45:50):

I think it’s something I would certainly have to take a look at the impact that that would have.

Andrew Clyde (01:45:53):

Okay. I mean, if you look at a concealed carry permit, it’s good for five years, and the concealed carry permit negates the need for a background check. I just look at the disparity of 30 days in five years and go, there’s got to be some middle ground here where we can help you out with NICS and not spend more money that we don’t have. Just a thought for you.

Director Wray (01:46:16):

Well, it’s an idea I’ll certainly take on and take a look at and we’ll follow back up with you.

Andrew Clyde (01:46:20):

Okay, thank you. I have a question for you regarding the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. Did the FBI find any illegally possessed or illegally possessed NFA restricted firearms in the rooms occupied by Mr. Paddock during the timeframe of the tragic Las Vegas shooting? I mean, you were the director at the time.

Director Wray (01:46:47):

Oh, yeah. And I went out… In fact, I went to the crime scene, met with the people on the crime scene who were working hard, exploiting the scene, and I went up into the hotel room that he was in and met with the team up there to see kind of the angles that he was shooting from and that kind of thing. As to the legality of the different weapons and ammunition that he had, as I sit here right now, I don’t remember the answer, but we can certainly follow back up with you.

Andrew Clyde (01:47:19):

Okay, great. Because everything I’ve seen, including the Las Vegas police report, showed no National Firearms Act weapons listed whatsoever. But yet in the FBI report it says Stephen Paddock illegally possessed prohibited firearms in violation of 27 USC section 5841, and he used the prohibited firearms in the mass shooting incident. So I’m just kind of questioning the disparity there. Not seeing them on any inventory and yet seeing the FBI actually… You know, the FBI report itself stating that they were there and they were used.

Director Wray (01:47:54):

Yeah. Well, I seem to vaguely recall, but this is now dating me back a ways. I seem to vaguely recall that there was some purchase that ran afoul of one of the various criminal provisions that apply to firearms in this country. Because I remember something related to one of the FFLs, but I’d have to go back and figure out what it is they’re referring to in the report.

Andrew Clyde (01:48:22):

Okay. Would you mind following up with us on that?

Director Wray (01:48:25):


Andrew Clyde (01:48:25):

Okay, great. And I guess that’s all the questions I’ve got for you. I yield back.

Chairman Rogers (01:48:32):

Mr. Trone?

David Trone (01:48:32):

Thanks, Chairman. Mr. Director, I want to talk some more about fentanyl in the US and what I’m trying to really get at is can we really stop the fentanyl from coming into the US? When we think about it, with China, you said over and over no cooperation whatsoever. They’re sending over the precursors in the Mexican ports in the west side. If China does get disrupted, if somehow they found the desire to help us, would it not be just as easy to go to India and so many other chemical manufacture… There’s so many chemical companies in the world, that my understanding is that those precursors coming from China can be replaced from somewhere else. Is that your understanding?

Director Wray (01:49:21):

Well, it’s certainly the case that most of the precursors that we’re seeing are coming from China and there are other places that supply them.

David Trone (01:49:30):

It’s not a complicated formula.

Director Wray (01:49:32):

You’ll understand why I’m more sanguine about our ability to work with the Indian government than the Chinese government.

David Trone (01:49:39):

Got it. Got to be pretty hard is up the precursors. There’s lots of chemicals out there. And problem is you mentioned you can make it in a easy chemical to make fentanyl in a small space. No agriculture product needed. Really cheap to make. Five to seven tons will supply the country for the whole year, the death rate we have. That’s all it is, five to seven tons. 73 million cars across that border, 200,000 cars every single day on that border. It’s a needle in a haystack. It is a job that’s pretty close to impossible.

So I guess in thinking about it again, those cartels, they’re roughly one-third of the gross domestic product in Mexico. The GDP of Mexico is $1.2 trillion. The cartels control through all the other things, tobacco, gasoline, autos, retail, and the illicit piece, roughly $300 billion of the GDP in Mexico. So it’s kind of a reason why Obrador chose hugs, not guns. Are we on the same page?

Director Wray (01:50:45):

I agree with what’s your-

David Trone (01:50:46):


Director Wray (01:50:46):

I understand what you’re saying, yeah.

David Trone (01:50:47):

Scary thought. He’s got one-third of my country’s controlled by armed cartels that are armed as well as he is. As well as he is in many cases. And will use any method of extortion, bribery, and violence savagery beyond what anybody would think would be possible. So that’s the mentality we’re up against. And the profits are so huge. Do we really think that we are going to be able to stop this at the border or are we better off to start saying, “Yeah, let’s do all we can. Let’s not give up the fight.” I mean we’re all in, but we got to focus on the demand side, how we work on research, on the brain, dopamine, how we work on education, how we work on treatment, and all the prevention pieces on the demand side. Because we don’t slow the demand down, my belief is we’re not going to be able to stop the supply. Interrupt it, yes. But stop it, no. Your thoughts?

Director Wray (01:51:47):

Well, as I think said to the chairman, I think it’s the whole continuum. Certainly you can’t only deal with the demand side, nor can you only deal with the supply side. I do think there is a lot more work to be done on both. I’ve been down, you’ve mentioned the border. I’ve been to multiple locations on the border, talked with the CVP folks, seen firsthand what they’re dealing with. They got a heck of a challenge on their hands. But we have to, I think, aggressively take on the cartels. We have to aggressively take on the distribution networks.

We have to work with the Mexican government and we have to do things like work on the demand side. We have to do all the above. And whether we can eliminate it once and for all, that may be a tall order, but we can significantly degrade its effectiveness. I look at some of the work that we did when I was assistant attorney general, for example, with the Columbian government on cocaine. And while that had its fits and starts too, we were able to have some important successes over a number of years working with the Columbian government at the time. So I think there is a hope for more progress, and more progress is needed.

David Trone (01:53:12):

But with a government that’s so infiltrated from the top to the bottom and so corrupted and so much power in the cartels of the entire country, I’m with you, keep at it, but it’s a pretty tall order. And we ought to think about more and more on the demand side. And that’s what we got to get the budget to think about how we can help folks that have an addiction. I yield back.

Chairman Rogers (01:53:35):

Mr. Ellzey?

Jake Ellzey (01:53:37):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Director, thanks again for being here today. To the 38,000 folks that work for you, and I think you brought up a good point, a few of them can poison the well, and that has happened in the past. But the vast majority of those 38,000 are people who volunteer, serve in your agency defending our nation and have a servant’s heart, and for that, I’m very grateful. And those who aren’t, get rid of them as quick as you can because they hurt the reputation of everybody else’s.

Job ene of any government, municipal, state, or local is to protect their citizens. And our government is responsible for the American citizens. So looking at the border, the cartels control everything in Mexico and everything that comes through our border is controlled by a number of cartels. The illegal immigration, in the millions. The human trafficking, which is pure evil modern day slavery for the sex trade. And finally, the drugs that infiltrate our country. They come from other places too, but from Mexico, the cartels control everything.

And as I’m listening to my colleague Mr. Trone talk about the government of Mexico, it almost sounds like a failed narco state. Just last year, 70,000 Americans died from fentanyl. Didn’t overdose. They were poisoned. And that’s what the DEA administrator today said, “This is poison, not an overdose. They see us as the enemy.” Put another way, if two 737s crashed every day in this country, we would shut down that airline. That’s how many people are dying every day from Fentanyl.

And as a military man, I look at what’s going on on our southern border, if the failed, if the government of Mexico has indeed failed and has become a narco state, and I’m not a saying that it has, but it almost looks like it. And we’re losing more time numbers of Americans age 18 to 45, the people who should be getting married, who should be finding jobs, serving in our military to defend us against threats overseas, and that pool is shrinking every day with these wartime numbers that we’re losing. Would an authorization of use of military force aid you in your effort to stop this poison that’s killing Americans every day?

Director Wray (01:55:46):

Well, I think an authorization to use military force is probably a better question for some of the agencies that would be designed to implement it. But I do believe that the cartels pose a tremendous threat to Americans. And the fentanyl trafficking that’s coming across the border is not just a border problem, it’s a threat to e everyone in the country really. I mean, at least every community in the country. And more needs to be done to try to dismantle those cartels. And so I think we should be considering whatever tools may be out there. You will, I think, be hard to find an FBI director who wouldn’t welcome more tools in the toolbox.

Jake Ellzey (01:56:39):

The cartels do see us as an enemy. They have shown that. They’re killing us. We’re not a customer. They’re killing Americans with their product. And it’s being used with… It is being done with chemicals from China. Everything China does is a military operation, complete control at the top in asymmetric ways. They don’t want to fight us on the battlefield. They don’t want us to fight us at this on the seas. But if they can diminish our military by killing our young people, they’re going to do it. There’s not 100,000 other people, other countries dealing with this problem like the United States is.

That’s because we’re their primary threat and we agree that China is our primary threat. So everything they do is controlled at the top. So if it’s being controlled, then they are allowing those chemicals to come to our nation and we need to recognize that, we need to talk about that more often because this is being done on purpose. They don’t have to fight us on the battlefield if they can defeat us here at home. Young men and women going to school, not trying to take… get overdosed or thinking they’re taking something else because this poison looks like other things to include candy. That’s pure evil.

So what the cartels are doing and what the Chinese are doing is pure evil. And I’ll give up the rest of my time here, but it’s time that we stood up a lot stronger, helped you do your job. And the threat of authorization of use of military force with some of my SEAL buddies, ODA buddies, some F-18s, I think would bring the Mexican government to the table to do more to support you and your mission to stop what is going on. And it might make people start to shrivel up a little bit down in Mexico and stop doing what they’re doing. So thank you very much for your time today, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

Chairman Rogers (01:58:17):

Mr. Cline, do you have questions briefly?

Mr. Cline (01:58:19):

I do briefly, Mr. Chairman, thank you. Just want to wrap up a couple of questions on FISA. Back in 2021, the DOJ inspector general conducted an audit of the FBI’s due diligence or lack thereof when requesting permission to wiretap or otherwise spy on Americans through FISA courts. That report detailed widespread non-compliance with Woods procedures, which you know are an internal FBI process to minimize factual inaccuracies in FISA applications by requiring the FBI to maintain supporting documentation for each factual assertion in the application. Out of over 7,000 FISA applications approved between January of 2015 and March of 2020, there were 183 FISA applications for which the Woods file was missing in whole or in part, correct?

Director Wray (01:59:05):

It’s been a while since I reviewed the report, but I know there were a number where they were missing. I think we were ultimately, as I recall, able to find all of the documents supporting those Woods applications. But the problem was they were not all in the same file the way they should have been.

Mr. Cline (01:59:21):

Okay. So the report made eight recommendations for the FBI and two for the National Security Division, correct?

Director Wray (01:59:27):

I don’t remember the number. There were definitely some recommendations. I don’t remember the number of them.

Mr. Cline (01:59:31):

Can you give us an update on the status of those recommendations?

Director Wray (01:59:34):

I believe we’ve implemented all the recommendations. I know we agreed to implement all of the recommendations that the IG had. I will say that while we’re on the subject to FISA, it is important to know that the report that you’re talking about, the Woods file issue, that goes not to anything to do with 702. That has to do with so-called Title I FISA. So these are two sort of completely distinct parts of FISA and different processes.

Mr. Cline (02:00:01):

Right. But to confirm, you’ve located all of the missing Woods files identified in the IGS report?

Director Wray (02:00:05):

It’s been a while since I looked at it, but my recollection the last time I did look at it, was that we had been able to find all of the relevant documents, but they had not, again, they had not been kept in the way they should have. That’s not acceptable in my view. And it’s been addressed.

Mr. Cline (02:00:26):

Okay. Moving on. In March, you said the FBI has previously bought American’s personal geolocation data derived from mobile ads without getting a warrant, but that you don’t do that anymore and have no plans to resume. And another CJS hearing back in March, Inspector General Horowitz told me that after the Supreme Court’s decision in Carpenter, the FBI should not be obtaining this geolocation data without a warrant. Can you confirm that that’s not happening and would you support legislation codifying that prohibition on the government’s purchasing geolocation data or other similarly sensitive data and communications?

Director Wray (02:00:59):

Well, let me take it in two parts because it’s a two-part question. I think as to the first part, I can confirm that at least it’s my understanding and I’ve asked lots of questions, we do not currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising. And we previously, as I testified before, we previously did that for a limited national security purpose in the past. That is no longer true. It’s not been true for a while now. As far as the legislative piece of it, as with any legislative idea, I can’t propose or oppose legislation. But I’m happy to take a look and give you operational input on how something like that would affect us.

Mr. Cline (02:01:48):

Thank you. Did the FBI purchase or use a commercial license to access phone geolocation data without a warrant after the Carpenter decision?

Director Wray (02:01:57):

The specifics of the national security program that I was describing are classified. And so probably the best thing to do there if you have specific questions about it, is to get the right subject matter experts so that you can get the broader legal analysis and the details in an appropriate setting.

Mr. Cline (02:02:21):

Thank you. Has the FBI purchased any other data from a commercial vendor that could reveal private information about individuals? Is it doing so? And if not, can you reassure us that it won’t happen in the future?

Director Wray (02:02:35):

Can you just, I’m sorry, just restate the… repeat the question?

Mr. Cline (02:02:38):

Sure. So has the FBI purchased any other data from a commercial vendor that could reveal other than internet advertising-based, that would reveal private information about an individual American citizen without a warrant?

Director Wray (02:02:58):

You’re talking about other than location data, is what you’re talking about, sort of more broadly is what you…

Mr. Cline (02:03:03):


Director Wray (02:03:05):

In order to be sure that I’m giving you an accurate answer, let me follow back up with you on that, because I really want to… That’s a broad enough category, I really want to be careful on how I answer that.

Mr. Cline (02:03:16):

I appreciate that. I yield back the remainder of the time.

Chairman Rogers (02:03:20):

Mr. Director, you’ve been overly generous with your time and your answers and your commentary. We thank you so much for giving us this large amount of time, of your time. We will stay in touch of course. But thank you for your service to the country. You’ve given a lifetime of service and a brilliant career, and we thank you for that profoundly. This concludes today’s hearing. Without objection, all members will have seven days to submit additional written questions for the witness or additional materials for the record. And with that, the hearing is adjourned.

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