Director Wray’s Opening Remarks to Senate Judiciary Committee

Director Wray’s Opening Remarks to Senate Judiciary Committee


Do you solemnly swear the testimony you’re
about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Yes. Thank you. Sorry about that. So, thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member
Feinstein, members of the Committee, for the chance to appear before you today. I had originally intended to start with a
few comments from my statement for the record, which talks about some of the extraordinary
work being done by the men and women of the FBI and some of the threats we face. But I want to do something a little different
and talk about an issue that’s particularly near and dear to me and that I think, frankly,
doesn’t get the attention it deserves, before I turn to the many important questions of
the Committee. As you say, Senator Feinstein, I’ve been on
the job just under two years and one of the toughest things about this job is the loss
of a law enforcement officer. And certainly at the FBI, we’ve experienced
our share of loss, but the success of the FBI also depends greatly on the support of
our dedicated state and local law enforcement partners who patrol our neighborhoods, protect
our streets all across America. And I see that much more clearly now after
having visited all 56 of the FBI’s field offices and having spoken directly with local law
enforcement heads from every one of your states. Our state and local partners serve on the
FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces all across the country. They’re force multipliers in our fight against
drug trafficking and taking down gangs, in saving kids who’ve been kidnapped, and in
countless other efforts that help keep Americans safe. They also give the FBI a much clearer understanding
of the threats across the different communities in your states and ideas about how we can
better combat them together. Every time I attend an FBI graduation for
new agents or new analysts at Quantico, a significant number of those graduates are
former state and local officers, and I have the privilege of shaking their hands, presenting
them with their credentials, and welcoming them to the FBI family. So a line of duty death is personal to the
FBI and it’s personal to me as Director. And I have a feeling it’s personal to a number
of you. Since I became Director, shortly thereafter,
I asked my team to let me know every time an officer is shot and killed in the line
of duty in this country. And every time it happens, I ask for a picture
of the officer and I read about his or her family and about how long they served. And then I pick up the phone and I call the
chief or the sheriff or the commissioner and on behalf of the entire FBI extend my support
and our condolences. And I will tell you, I’ve made an awful lot
of those calls to heartbroken police departments. Way, way too many. Just last month, for example, I was overseas
meeting with foreign counterparts, and I found myself making five of those calls in nine
days back to the United States. That’s five lost protectors of communities,
five grieving families and colleagues, all in a matter of days. One of the calls I made was to the Sacramento
Police Department, the home, Senator Feinstein, of you and, of course, Senator Harris. Just a few weeks ago, on June 19th, Officer
Tara O’Sullivan was killed while responding to a domestic disturbance. She was 26 years old and she’d only been on
the job for about six months. Another call I made, literally only about
a day later, was to the home state of Senator Cornyn and Senator Cruz. Corporal Jose Espericueta from the Mission
Police Department was killed while trying to catch a guy who had threatened his family
with a gun and then fled on foot. Corporal Espericueta was 44 years old and
had a wife and two kids. So, these calls never get any easier. In just under two years as Director, I’ve
already had to make condolence calls like that to more than half of the states represented
on this Committee. And I’ve had to speak to some chiefs and sheriffs
more than once. I’ll never forget, for example, last September,
when I called the Brookhaven, Mississippi, Police Department after two of their men were
killed. Put that in context, they had an entire police
force of 38 people. Unfortunately, we’ve already had two more
officers shot and killed in the line of duty just this month. One was an officer killed in Arkansas this
past Thursday. So I’ve mentioned only a few specific, tragic
incidents, but I cannot stress enough that this is a problem that affects cities and
towns, big and small, all over the country. It can happen anywhere, it can happen any
time. And the level of violence against law enforcement
in this country doesn’t get a whole lot of national coverage, and I worry often that
Americans don’t realize the extent of the problem. That’s maybe understandable because they don’t
see what I see in my job – the devastating loss in each one of these instances to the
loved ones left behind, and the loss to the FBI and to our communities of partners who,
as I say, are so critical to our mission. Finally, I want folks to remember that the
dangers of this work go beyond just encounters with potentially deadly criminals. Think of the line of duty deaths and illnesses
that we’re seeing now from our 9/11 first responders. I know that as Director, I’ve spoken to not
one, not two, but three of our own agents who died as a result of their work in response
to those attacks. And there are countless other kinds of examples. So, I know our country faces a daunting list
of challenges and I’m confident we’re going to be discussing any number of them together
at this hearing, but I do want to make sure folks around this country are not forgetting
the good work of the people who are putting everything on the line. It takes an incredibly special person to be
willing to put his or her life on the line for a complete stranger. And to get up every morning, day after day
after day, to do that, I think, is extraordinary. So I think we owe it to them and to their
fallen comrades to do whatever we can to make their work safer. We need to promote understanding and respect
for their roles, and all of us as Americans owe them a profound debt of gratitude. So, I appreciate the Committee extending me
the privilege and the honor as FBI Director to honor their sacrifice in this job. So I’d be happy to answer the Committee’s
questions.

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