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FBI director suggests ‘serious charges’ coming in probe of Capitol attack

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the US Capitol Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo)

FBI Director Chris Wray says that “serious charges” are still coming in the criminal probe of the US Capitol riot by former president Donald Trump’s supporters.

"This is a very ongoing investigation and there's a lot more to come," Wray said during an oversight hearing held by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Thursday. "I would expect to see more charges — some of them maybe more serious charges."

Wray made the remarks while testifying that the FBI considered the attack an act of "domestic terrorism."

FBI Director Christopher Wray is sworn in to testify before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, June 10, 2021. (Reuters photo)

He said that although he understands why Democratic lawmakers have described the deadly incident an "insurrection," he still thought it would not be appropriate for him to use that word due to the effect it could have on pending criminal cases.

"In my role as FBI director, because that's a term that has legal meaning, I really have to be careful about using words like that," Wray said.

Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in the hope of preventing lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden's victory, thus overturning the outcome of the 2020 presidential election but to no avail.

The former president has been blamed for inciting his supporters, including members of Proud Boys, to storm the building and was impeached as a result. The incident left five people dead, including a police officer, and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives.

Appointed by Trump in 2017, Wray was repeatedly grilled by Democratic lawmakers over what they said were intelligence failures that left law enforcement ill-prepared for the riot.

"The FBI's inaction in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 is simply baffling," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said.

"It is hard to tell whether FBI headquarters merely missed the evidence — which had been flagged by your field offices and was available online for all the world to see — or whether the Bureau saw the intelligence, underestimated the threat, and simply failed to act."

So far, 500 people have been charged with taking part in the riot but "almost none" of them had been under FBI investigation previously, Wray said on Thursday.

When asked whether the FBI was investigating Trump or his associate Roger Stone, Wray said he could neither confirm nor deny any probe.

"I'm talking about Mr. Big, Number One," said Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen, referring to Trump. "Have you gone after the people who incited the riot?"

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