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FBI Dir. Wray: New China investigation opened every 10 to 12 hours

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)
June 23, 2021

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the bureau opens up a new case related to China every 10 to 12 hours.

Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Wray said, “Every 10 to 12 hours we’re opening a new China counter-intelligence investigation.”

Wray has repeatedly made the claim that the FBI is opening new China-related investigations every approximately 10 hours. In June of last year, Wray said the bureau has over 2,000 ongoing investigations related to China.

In his prepared remarks before the Senate committee, Wray said, “In the last year alone, we have seen – and have publicly called out – China, North Korea, and Russia for using cyber operations to target U.S. COVID-19 vaccines and research.”

Wray also said, “We have seen China working to obtain controlled defense technology and developing the ability to use cyber means to complement any future real-world conflict.”

Wray said the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) in particular has worked to investigate foreign influence operations, including those related to U.S. election interference.

“Utilizing lessons learned since 2018, the FITF widened its aperture to
confront malign foreign operations of China, Iran, and other global adversaries. To address this expanding focus and wider set of adversaries and influence efforts, we have also added resources to maintain permanent ‘surge’ capability on election and foreign influence threats.”

In March, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) under director Avril Haines released a report by the National Intelligence Council, detailing efforts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. The report assessed that Russia interfered in the 2020 U.S. election to harm then-candidate Joe Biden, but gave a less clear assessment of how China was involved in the 2020 U.S. election.

While a previous U.S. intelligence community report assessed China was seeking to harm President Donald Trump’s reelection chances, the March 2021 report said, “We assess that China did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election. The (National Intelligence Officer) for Cyber assesses, however, that China did take some steps to try to undermine former President Trump’s reelection.”

On Wednesday, Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), asked Wray if the FBI needs more resources to combat foreign influence efforts through its FITF.

“We’re busier than we ever have been,” Wray said. “And I can assure you that if the Congress sees fit to send us more resources on this I’m quite confident they will be put to good use.”