Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D.C.
July 12, 2023

Director Wray's Opening Statement to the House Judiciary Committee

Remarks as prepared.

Good morning, Chairman Jordan, Ranking Member Nadler, and members of the committee.

In the time I have before we get to your questions, I want to talk about the sheer breadth and impact of the work the FBI’s 38,000 employees are doing each and every day because the work the men and women of the FBI do to protect the American people goes way beyond the one or two investigations that seem to capture all the headlines.

Take violent crime: Last year alone, working shoulder to shoulder with our partners in state and local law enforcement, the FBI arrested more than 20,000 violent criminals and child predators—an average of almost 60 bad guys taken off the streets per day, every day.

Or our work going after the cartels exploiting our southern border to traffic fentanyl and other dangerous drugs into communities nationwide. The FBI’s running well over 300 investigations targeting the leadership of those cartels, and working with our partners, we’ve already seized hundreds of kilograms of fentanyl this year alone, stopping deadly drugs from reaching their intended destinations in states all over the country and saving countless American lives.

Or the thousands of active investigations we now have into the Chinese government’s efforts to steal our most precious secrets, rob our businesses of their ideas and innovation, and repress freedom of speech right here in the United States.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

The men and women of the FBI work tirelessly every day to protect the American people from a staggering array of threats, and we don’t do that work alone.

The FBI now leads more than 750 task forces nationwide made up of more than 6,000 state and local task force officers, or “TFOs,” from more than 1,800 different state and local agencies.

Each of those TFOs represents an officer, a deputy, or an investigator that a local police chief, sheriff, or state superintendent was willing to send our way—not because they didn’t have enough work to do at their own department, but because they saw the tremendous value that our FBI-led task forces bring.

We are honored and humbled by their trust in us, and grateful for their partnership, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. To truly appreciate the impact the FBI and our partners are having, you’ve got to look at the cases.

Just last month, for instance, the FBI charged 31 members of two drug-trafficking organizations responsible for distributing dangerous drugs like fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine throughout the area around Marion, Ohio. In that one investigation, run out of the FBI’s two-man office in Mansfield, we worked with partners from multiple local police departments and sheriff’s offices to take kilograms of fentanyl off of Marion streets—enough lethal doses to kill the entire population of Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati combined. It’s a great example of how, even with a small personnel footprint, the FBI works big cases hand-in-hand with our state and local partners to have an outsized impact in our communities.

And that’s just one investigation led by one small office in Ohio.

The FBI’s got thousands of employees working scores of investigations all over the country to protect the American people. Those men and women, who choose to dedicate their careers—their lives, really—to this kind of work and to fulfilling the FBI mission, are inspiring.

At a time when so many other law enforcement agencies have had a difficult time with recruiting and retention, the Bureau continues to attract applicants in near-record numbers. After the first couple of years of my tenure, the number of Americans applying to be special agents tripled the pace from when I started—reaching the highest levels in about a decade.

At the same time, our special-agent attrition has remained in the low single digits and would be the envy of almost any employer, and even with the bigger numbers, the folks we’re adding continue to be top-notch.

The percentage of both veterans and special agent hires with prior law enforcement experience has remained as steady as ever, between 25% and 30%.

Add to that—in a job market where applicants have loads of other opportunities—the percentage of those new agent trainees who also have advanced degrees is up, and now approaches nearly 50% of each class.

But the thing that unites them all is a commitment to public service—a willingness to put others before themselves.

That’s true from the bottom of the organization to the top.

Since becoming Director, I’ve worked hard to assemble and cultivate a leadership team that embodies those values and characteristics. It’s a team that I purposefully chose because they walked the walk in the field. Just taking our top eight leaders as an example, they all came up through the Bureau as line agents. They’ve worked in 21 different field offices and have a combined 130 years of field experience.

They include a West Point grad; veterans of the Army, Air Force, and Marines; as well as a former police officer and state trooper, and not a single one is a political appointee—not one.

Today’s FBI leaders reflect the best of this organization, an organization that’s made up of 38,000 men and women who are patriots, professionals, and dedicated public servants.

That is the real FBI.

I’ve now visited each of our 56 field offices, twice, I speak constantly with local chiefs and sheriffs—from all 50 states—who work closely with us every day with judges, coast-to-coast, who see and hear our work up-close with business leaders, who turn to us for help with cyberattacks and economic espionage with victims and their families, people we protect from gang violence and predators.

And the FBI they tell me about consistently, almost resoundingly, is the FBI that I see: an FBI that’s respected, appreciated, and trusted—that’s there for them when they need us most.

That’s the FBI that inspires me and that I’m proud to be here today to represent.