Sen. Paul to FBI Director Wray: ‘So Far, We’re 0 for 2 With Getting You to Answer’

Peyton Holliday | November 22, 2022 | 4:04pm EST
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FBI Director Christopher Wray, left, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)  (Getty Images)
FBI Director Christopher Wray, left, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- FBI Director Christopher Wray strongly rejected Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) question on whether the law enforcement agency is investigating people for their political comments on social media, asserting, "We investigate violence, not speech."

Paul was not satisfied with Wray’s answers up to that point, however, and asked the director to provide clear-cut information on the FBI's monitoring of political speech on social media as well as whether the FBI is using data from Big Tech to track people or obtain warrants, among other issues raised by the senator.

At the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Nov. 15, Sen. Paul asked the FBI chief, “Director Wray, is Facebook or any other social media company supplying private messages or data on American users that is not compelled by the government or the FBI?”

Wray responded, “Not compelled? In other words, not in response to the legal process.”

Senator Paul clarified, “No warrant, no subpoena. They're just supplying you information on their users?”

Wray responded, “I don't believe so, but -- but I can't sit here and be sure of that as I -- as I sit here.”

As the questioning continued Wray stated, “I think it's a more complicated answer than I can give here.”

Paul continued, “So -- so far, we're zero for two with getting you to answer this, but you're pledging you will actually answer the question because you have to realize the frustration. We'll write you a letter and your team of lawyers will write back a 15-page letter that says nothing, and you won't answer the question. These are very specific.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“This is whether you're obeying the law, whether we can have confidence,” said Paul.  “I want to have confidence in the FBI.”

Wray responded, “We are obeying the law.”

Paul, “Well, you're saying that, but you won't tell us the answer.”

Wray replied, “That's not what I said.”

Paul then said, “No, you aren't telling me the answer. And the answer is, are you collecting data not compelled by a warrant that would not be in compliance with the law? But you won't answer that you're not collecting that data.”

 “I said two things,” Wray responded. “One, we're following the law, and second, that we would have somebody follow up with you with more detailed specific –.”

Paul then said, “Those are two specific questions. Are you getting data from them [Big Tech] that's not compelled? And then are you piercing the anonymous nature of that technically? Are you receiving private messages from social media companies through the use of confidential human sources? From Facebook, social media companies? You have people working over there who you're paying or who are volunteering to give you information, even though it would be against the law for Facebook to do this?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  (Screenshot, C-SPAN)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Screenshot, C-SPAN)

Paul continued, “But now you're saying, well, we'll get around the law by using confidential human sources.”

Wray, “You mean, just to be clear, I'm following the question, you mean in effect recruiting a human source inside the company?”

Paul answered, “Exactly.”

Wray then said, “ Yeah. No, I don't believe so. I think what we have had are situations where we have confidential human sources, not employees of those companies, but who report to us on their own communications of, if the two of us had a communication and Secretary Mayorkas was a human source, he could report to us about what he is saying to me.”

Paul again pressed Wray, “Once again, I'd like the answer to be more specific from your team, not that I don't believe so, but you are not using human confidential resources within Facebook. So we get back to the idea of whether or not you're getting information for them outside the warrant process. Because the question, the next question is, which you probably won't answer either is, are you taking information that you're getting not through the warrant process and then going around and coming back and using that as a predicate for getting a warrant to actually get the information you've already been given?”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wray, “I'm not sure I'm completely following the –.”

After some further back and forth, Paul said, “The question is, is when we start to talk about political speech. And that is the question, are you receiving things that could be interpreted, and we'd want to know, and if we're -- you're not going to admit to us, whether it's political speech, someone who questions the election, you know, someone who is -- is mad about something that -- that is going on, but is not saying they're directly going to commit violence.”

“They're mad about things.,” said the senator. “What the New York Post article said is, yes, you're [the FBI] getting this. And then when they're finally read in context -- and this is from a whistleblower, which makes us suspect you're not being forthcoming or honest with us -- is that whistleblowers are saying you are receiving this information from Facebook and others and that you are going around the Constitution.”

“And to come back and try to get warrants for it, but then once you read it, there's been no actionable intelligence on this,” said Paul. “But this is an active program that you've got. You work for the government. You should admit to us whether or not you have a program going after our speech.”

To which Wray finished by stating, “We investigate violence, not speech.”

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