FBI director Christopher Wray testifies during a hearing about ‘worldwide threats to the homeland’ in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 17, 2020. John McDonnell/Pool via REUTERS

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee regarding domestic matters including Antifa, white supremacy and Russian attempts to interfere in the presidential election. When asked whether left- or right-wing extremists posed a larger threat, he instead focused on “lone wolves.” He added, “We don’t really think of threats in terms of left, right, at the FBI. We’re focused on the violence, not the ideology.”

In regard to the November election, Wray stated, “The intelligence community’s assessment is that Russia continues to try to influence our election, primarily through what we would call malign foreign influence.” He detailed the use of social media, state media and online journals as part of “an effort to sow divisiveness and discord.”

With respect to domestic matters, Wray stated that the bureau views Antifa as “more of an ideology than an organization” and detailed how “small groups or nodes” coalesce regionally from those who identify with the movement. He said anti-government and anti-authority groups were the most lethal this year. Lastly, he noted that white supremacists made up the largest portion of racially and ethnically motivated attacks that the FBI investigated and prosecuted.

Republican Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey disagreed with Wray’s characterization of Antifa. Crenshaw said, “This is an ideology that has trained its members, makes shield wall phalanxes to attack federal officers, formed an autonomous zone in an American city and besieged a federal courthouse in another. So, I mean, it just seems to be more than an ideology.” Van Drew discussed Antifa’s ability to organize, saying it seemed like more “than just a loosely knit group of people.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

FBI director raises alarm about white supremacy, Russia interference; Trump’s DHS chief skips hearing – New York Daily News – 9/17/2020
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned lawmakers on Thursday that Russian election interference and violent white supremacist groups rank among the top threats to U.S. national security — a message sharply at odds with President Trump’s views.

Dan Crenshaw Accuses FBI Director of ‘Downplaying’ Antifa Threat By Reducing It to ‘Ideology’ – National Review – 9/17/2020
“Earlier you confirmed Antifa does indeed exist, but you considered it more of an ideology than a group, correct?” Crenshaw asked Ray. The FBI director responded “Yes, an ideology or maybe a movement.” Crenshaw then said, “That seems to me to be down-playing it….This is an ideology that has trained its members, makes shield wall phalanxes to attack federal officers. It formed an autonomous zone in an American city and besieged a federal courthouse in another, so it just seems to be more than an ideology.”

‘Steady drumbeat of misinformation’: FBI chief warns of Russian interference in US elections – The Guardian – 9/17/2020
Christopher Wray, the FBI director, on Thursday warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections with a steady stream of misinformation aimed at undermining Democrat Joe Biden as well as sapping Americans’ confidence in the election process.

Dan Crenshaw Says Antifa Should Be Considered ‘More Than Just An Ideology’ – Daily Caller – 9/17/2020
Republicans and Democrats spent much of the hearing Thursday pressing Wray over whether Antifa, Black Lives Matter, QAnon or white supremacist groups pose the greatest domestic extremist threat. Antifa supporters, often identified by wearing masks and black bloc attire, have been mainstays at social justice protests across the U.S. this year.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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