Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with FBI Director Wray

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”  The hearing is the third oversight hearing of the FBI by the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2021, continuing Chair Durbin’s work to restore the tradition of regular agency oversight hearings.

Key Quotes:

“Today, we continue our work to restore the Committee’s traditional oversight role, which I have tried to work on since I became Chair.  Director Wray, your testimony today marks the fourth time you have appeared before this Committee since January 2021.”

“I am deeply troubled that the FBI is facing baseless claims that you have been weaponized for political purposes and dangerous calls to defund the agency.  This irresponsible charge has real consequences.  Just last month, a man from Tennessee pled guilty to a December 2022 plot to attack the Knoxville FBI office and kill the agents involved in the investigation of his co-defendant’s participating in the January 6 insurrection.”

“This Committee plays a critical role in holding the FBI accountable to the American people, but I urge my colleagues to exercise this oversight in a responsible and respectful manner.”

“One of the central concerns that I would like to raise is the troubling increase in hate crimes, including antisemitic, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic attacks, in the wake of the Middle Eastern conflict.  The FBI must continue to respond swiftly to these threats.”

“I strongly support the FBI’s critical work in combating all of these threats, but there is a need for continued improvement, especially ensuring that more hate crimes are actually reported to law enforcement.”

“As I have said many times in this Committee: Political violence in all forms is unacceptable.  An attack on any individual based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, or disability is not consistent with the values of America.  Every community deserves to feel safe, and the FBI plays an important role in guaranteeing that sense of security.  The threat of violent extremism is heightened by the proliferation of guns in America.”

“Director Wray, I want to thank you for hosting me yesterday at FBI headquarters for a demonstration of the FBI’s use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  There is no question that Section 702 is a critical tool for collecting foreign intelligence and protecting America.  I appreciate the reforms you have put in place to address what the FISA Court called the ‘widespread and persistent’ violations of 702 rules.  I still remain concerned about protecting the communications of innocent Americans from warrantless surveillance.  I look forward to continuing to work with you to reauthorize 702 with the significant reforms we need to protect the privacy of innocent Americans.” 

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.