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Grassley presses FBI director on 'left wing groups' during Jan. 6 attack hearing

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Columbus Junction Mayor Mark Huston greets Sen. Chuck Grassley at a July 7 town hall.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said he thought FBI Director Christopher Wray was "pretty forthcoming" during Wray's testimony Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee about intelligence leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but said he wished Democrats wouldn't focus just on that one attack and consider attacks by "a lot of left wing groups" as well.

"He did answer in a very general way," Grassley said of Wray to a group of Iowa reporters on his weekly press call Wednesday. "But we need real statistics, and then if I get that, I'm gonna be satisfied with what he said yesterday."

Those statistics he was looking for, Grassley added, weren't just on the militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the white supremacist groups Wray noted in his testimony. Wray said those were the two main groups that breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and who wanted to overturn the election and keep President Donald Trump in power.

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Grassley used his opening remarks Tuesday on other left-wing, antifascist groups such as those that vandalized a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon last summer.

"I did try to bring focus to my opening statement that Democrats seem to want to focus on just January the 6th and just right-wing activism," Grassley said Wednesday. "And I pointed out how we had several hundred policemen injured, we had looting and even, in one case, murder, stealing, burning of small buildings more or less by domestic terrorism."

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic chairman of the committee, used his own opening statement Tuesday to refute Grassley's characterization.

"We need to be abundantly clear that white supremacists and other far-right extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States today," Durbin said.

Grassley noted he asked Wray to clarify whether the FBI would treat right-wing and left-wing attacks the same, and Wray indicated that they did.

"He more or less answered the question that they don't look at a crime or an activity as being ideological or left or right -- if it violates the law, they're going to pursue it," Grassley said.

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On the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill working its way through the Senate on Wednesday, Grassley noted he was glad to see some provisions Republicans don't like, such as a minimum wage hike to $15 over five years, taken out. But he still said the bill was a "$2 trillion wish list of Democrat political priorities" he wanted to gut.

"We could support up to a third, maybe not quite a third" of the bill, Grassley said, lamenting that the other COVID relief bills passed out of Congress had been bipartisan.

Grassley also noted he was not planning on announcing whether he'd run for an eighth term in office until "September, October or November" of this year.

"There's not really any point of making these campaigns -- if I decide to have a campaign -- longer than a year," Grassley said. "If I decide to run, I'll decide then."

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