During hearing for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China poses the nation’s most severe threat.
Answering Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham’s question about counterintelligence operations the FBI conducts targeting potential Chinese espionage Wray said, “Mr. Chairman, I would say that there is no country that poses a more severe counterintelligence threat to this country right now than China.”
Wray said that he did not give his answer lightly.
“China is fighting a generational fight here,” he noted.
Wray added that he was not talking about the Chinese people as a whole or Chinese-Americans.
“It is about a country that in a variety of ways through the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, using not just government officials, but private sector entities, non-traditional collectors, etcetera to steal their way up the economic ladder at our expense. We have, as we speak, probably about a thousand plus investigations all across the country involving attempted theft of U.S. intellectual property whether it is economic espionage or counterproliferation, almost all lead back to China,” he said.
“It is a threat that is deep and diverse and wide and vexing whether it is in terms of the kind of actors that are used, the techniques that are used, the kind of targets that are used. So we are working extremely hard with all of our partners to combat it, but make no mistake this is a high, high priority for all of us,” Wray concluded.
Wray noted that Russia was the nation’s second most serious counterintelligence threat.
Graham asked whether Russia was still trying to interfere with U.S. elections.
“The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections through foreign influence in particular,” Wray answered.
“Is it fair to say that everything we’ve done against Russia has not deterred them enough? All the sanctions, all the talk, they’re still at it?” Graham followed-up with an additional question.
“My view is that until they stop, they have not been deterred enough,” Wray answered.
“And they are still doing it?” Graham asked.
“Yes,” Wray answered.
Because of perceived bias from the FBI during the 2016 election, Graham asked Wray whether DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz would be fair when looking at the FISA warrant process.
“I will say Mr. Chairman, in all my experience with Inspector General Horowitz that while he can be pretty hard-hitting, he’s independent, he’s objective, he’s fair, he’s professional, he’s thorough, and I have no reason to doubt the integrity or the quality of the investigation he has underway,” Wray said.
Graham asked whether Horowitz or others were doing a “deep dive” to look at what happened with the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and their use of FISA warrants.
Wray dodged answering whether Horowitz was involved.
“I think I will let Inspector General Horowitz speak for himself about the scope of his investigation, but as you know, the Attorney General is doing a review, has commissioned people to do a review, and I think that it is part of his job, it is part of mine, to get some of those questions answered,” Wray said.