“We have one standard, which is, I don’t care whether you’re upset about an election, upset about our criminal justice system, whatever it is you’re upset about, there is a right way and a wrong way to express what you’re upset about in this country, and violence, violence against law enforcement, destruction of property, is not it,” he said during an address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Republicans have pointed out that Jan. 6 protesters involved in the riot are facing harsh prison sentences while the rioters who destroyed federal property in Portland, Seattle and other places faced few, if any, charges.
In one case, for example, the man who set fire to a Minneapolis pawnshop during the 2020 riots was not charged with murder, even though the fire killed a man, because federal prosecutors asked the judge to show him leniency. Montez Terriel Lee was only charged with arson.
Wray, however, claimed hundreds of arrests were made in both cases by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, before admitting that he does see the Capitol protests and summer 2020 riots differently.
“In the Jan. 6 instance, it happened in broad daylight and has been photographed extensively — people’s faces eminently visible — and involved the unmistakable breach and entry into the Congress when they were in the middle of conducting one of their most sacred responsibilities,” he explained.
That’s different “from a lot of what we saw over the summer,” Wray continued, which happened “under cover of darkness, with people’s faces concealed, often attacking buildings that might not be federal property – in some cases the courthouse, but not while people were in operation.
“And so the federal hook, the federal jurisdiction, is sometimes a little different, and the ability to prove it is more challenging,” he added.