Donald Trump slams FBI chief Chris Wray for saying antifa is 'NOT an organization' and that Russia has 'very active' campaign to hit Joe Biden

 Donald Trump launched a public attack on his FBI director Chris Wray Thursday after the law enforcement chief called antifa 'a movement' and not 'an organization' and told Congress Russia was trying to interfere in the election to hurt Joe Biden.

Wray delivered testimony to Congress putting him at odds with Trump on both violence in the homeland and threats from abroad, prompting a two-tweet rebuke sent from Air Force One.

Trump claimed China is a 'far greater threat than Russia,' which Wray did not, suggested they will send forged ballots, and then claimed the FBI 'protected' antifa.

He also linked Wray - his own appointee - to two of his favorite targets: James Comey and Robert Mueller, the current director's predecessors calling the bureau 'Comey/Mueller inspired.' 

The outburst came after the FBI Director warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 elections with an active campaign to 'denigrate' Trump's rival.

In stark testimony less than two months before Election Day, Wray said Russia was pumping out a steady steam of misinformation aimed at Biden as well as sapping Americans' confidence in the election process.

The threat, Wray said, is ongoing. 'The intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections,' he said – nearly four years after an ominous intelligence community warning about Russian measures in 2016.

Moscow is also attempting to undercut what it sees as an anti-Russian U.S. establishment, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation head told the Democratic-led House of Representatives' Homeland Security committee.

He said his biggest concern is a 'steady drumbeat of misinformation' that he said he feared could undermine confidence in the result of the 2020 election.

FBI Director Chris Wray said Russia and its proxies seek to sow 'divisiveness and discord' and 'primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden'

FBI Director Chris Wray said Russia and its proxies seek to sow 'divisiveness and discord' and 'primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden'

FBI Chief Wray says Russia continues influencing US elections
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Wray was also pressed repeatedly by Republicans on antifa, which Trump has repeatedly claimed is an organization behind violence. 

Wray did not dispute that antifa activists were a serious concern, saying that antifa was a 'real thing' and that the FBI had undertaken 'any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists,' including into individuals who identify with antifa.

But, he said, 'It's not a group or an organization. It's a movement or an ideology.'

That characterization contradicts the depiction from Trump, who in June singled out antifa - short for 'anti-fascists' and an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militant groups - as responsible for the violence that followed George Floyd's death.

The testimony comes four years after U.S. intelligence warned Vladimir Putin's intelligence agencies were interfering in the elections

The testimony comes four years after U.S. intelligence warned Vladimir Putin's intelligence agencies were interfering in the elections

Trump tweeted then that the U.S. would be designating antifa as a terrorist organization, even though such designations are historically reserved for foreign groups and antifa lacks the hierarchical structure of formal organizations.  

Wray's testimony follows an Aug. 7 warning by the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center that Russia, China and Iran were all trying to interfere in the Nov. 3 election.

Wray said Russia and its proxies seek to sow 'divisiveness and discord' and 'primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.' 

Wray was confirmed to fill his post after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who played a key role in authorizing probes of the Trump 2016 campaign as well as the Hillary Clinton email probe. 

Wray's testimony made clear that Russia's actions were not a thing of the past – ever after the Obama administration imposed sanctions in 2017, and the Trump administration and Congress continued to apply economic pressure. 

'We certainly have seen very active efforts by the Russians to influence our elections in 2020,' Wray testified.

Multiple reviews by U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia acted to boost now-President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and undermine his rival Hillary Clinton. 

Trump has long bristled at that finding, which Russia denies. The president, meanwhile, has leveled scathing attacks on the U.S. election system, including mail-in balloting in particular. He also has launched blistering attacks on Joe Biden's mental health – a line of attack that the Homeland Security Department has warned in memos Russia also is promoting.

Trump himself has repeatedly and without evidence questioned the increased use of mail-in ballots, a long established method of voting in the United States which are expected to see a surge in use due to the coronavirus. 

On Thursday Trump said on Twitter that without evidence that they could make it impossible to know the election's true outcome.   

The hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee - established after the Sept. 11 attacks to confront the threat of international terrorism - focused almost entirely on domestic matters, including violence by white supremacists as well as anti-government extremists. 

The topics underscored the shift of attention by law enforcement at a time of intense divisions and polarization inside the country. 

FBI Chief Wray says ANTIFA is more of an ideology than organization
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Not an organization: Chris Wray, Donald Trump's FBI director, said that antifa is a movement or ideology - putting him directly at odds with the president

Not an organization: Chris Wray, Donald Trump's FBI director, said that antifa is a movement or ideology - putting him directly at odds with the president

Antifa: Self-declared anti-fascist activist Michael Reinoehl, who was shot and killed by US Marshals in Washington State on September 3, 2020, was photographed in  protests in Oregon. He was being investigated over the shooting death of a Trump supporter when he was killed

Antifa: Self-declared anti-fascist activist Michael Reinoehl, who was shot and killed by US Marshals in Washington State on September 3, 2020, was photographed in  protests in Oregon. He was being investigated over the shooting death of a Trump supporter when he was killed

Pictured: self-proclaimed 'antifa' activist Michael Reinoehl

Pictured: self-proclaimed 'antifa' activist Michael Reinoehl

But one area where foreign threats were addressed was in the presidential election and Russia's attempts to interfere in the campaign.

Wray sought to make clear the scope of the threats the country faces while resisting lawmakers' attempts to steer him into politically charged statements. When asked whether extremists on the left or the right posed the bigger threat, he pivoted instead to an answer about how solo actors, or so-called 'lone wolves,' with easy access to weapons were a primary concern.

'We don't really think of threats in terms of left, right, at the FBI. We're focused on the violence, not the ideology,' he said later.

The FBI director said racially motivated violent extremists, such as white supremacists, have been responsible for the most lethal attacks in the U.S. in recent years. 

But this year the most lethal violence has come from anti-government activists, such as anarchists and militia-types, Wray said.

Wray also affirmed the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference in the November election, which he said was taking the form of foreign influence campaigns aimed at sowing discord and swaying public opinion as well as efforts to denigrate Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

He said that the U.S. had not yet seen targeting of election infrastructure like in 2016, but efforts to sow doubt about the election's integrity are a serious concern, he said.


Not at one: Donald Trump is now at odds with his FBI director over whether antifa is an organization

Not at one: Donald Trump is now at odds with his FBI director over whether antifa is an organization

'What concerns me the most is the steady drumbeat of misinformation and sort of amplification of smaller cyber intrusions,' Wray said. 'I worry that they will contribute over time to a lack of confidence of American voters and citizens in the validity of their vote.'

'I think that would be a perception,' Wray added, 'not a reality. I think Americans can and should have confidence in our election system and certainly in our democracy. But I worry that people will take on a feeling of futility because of all of the noise and confusion that's generated.'

Trump has resisted the idea of Russian interference aimed at benefiting his campaign and has been eager, along with other administration officials, to talk about intelligence officials' assessment that China prefers that Trump lose to Biden.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf had been scheduled to appear at the House hearing on worldwide threats but did not testify because of his nomination to be secretary, according to the agency.

The agency said in a statement ahead of the hearing that it would be 'contrary to standard practice' to have him testify while his nomination was pending before the Senate.

Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement that he was prepared to appear in place of Wolf but that was rejected by the Democratic-controlled committee.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, began the hearing by noting there is no law prohibiting the testimony of someone facing a confirmation hearing and that Wolf has given multiple media interviews since the president announced his nomination.

The Department of Homeland Security ignored a committee subpoena issued Friday for Wolf's appearance, which the Mississippi Democrat said should 'appall' any member of the committee.

Donald Trump slams FBI chief Chris Wray for saying antifa is 'NOT an organization' and that Russia has 'very active' campaign to hit Joe Biden Donald Trump slams FBI chief Chris Wray for saying antifa is 'NOT an organization' and that Russia has 'very active' campaign to hit Joe Biden Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:12 Rating: 5

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