Tennessee Rep. Diana Harshbarger had lots of uncomfortable questions for Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Christopher Wray concerning border security, terrorists, China, and the Jan. 6 riot detainees.
The congresswoman’s questioning came as Mayorkas, Wray, and the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday morning concerning global threats facing the United States.
Harshbarger started off with a couple of questions for Mayorkas. “Sir, we know what happened in Afghanistan with the Taliban being in control, with the assumption that al Qaeda can now operate as they did leading up to 9/11. These are some ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Do you know how many terrorists have been apprehended at our southern border sir?” she asked.
Mayorkas stuttered as he replied, “I do know our known or suspected terrorists, how many and I would be pleased to provide that in a classified context.”
(Video Credit: C-SPAN)
“That would be awesome,” Harshbarger commented.
Then she stated, “Honestly, do we think there was a ripe opportunity for more terrorists, al Qaeda, the Taliban, whomever… to come across the southern border since it’s wide open? That’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no.'”
Mayorkas answered, “No.”
“Is the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy being implemented and enforced?” she asked Mayorkas.
“It is. It is being implemented. We are developing an implementation plan as we are required to and I would like to mention, congresswoman, that that requires a bilateral agreement…,” he responded, being sure to select his words carefully.
Harshbarger interrupted his meandering to make her point, “The Supreme Court sir said that it needed to be implemented, so if you could give us proof of that. Do you think if we continued to build the wall that would stop 280,000 people from coming across the border illegally sir? Yes or no?”
Mayorkas stated, “I do not believe with the continuation of the construction of the wall…”
“I sense you don’t want to build the wall. Are we still paying the contractors not to build the wall, sir?” she said cutting him off once again.
He waffled by replying, “Congresswoman, we are meeting our contractual obligations as we are required to.”
Then Harshbarger turned to Wray in her line of questioning.
She asked Director Wray to update the committee on the protesters being detained since Jan. 6.
“What I can tell you is that we have now made a little over 600 arrests. The status of each of those cases varies. We’ve had some cases that have been resolved by guilty pleas already but a number of them are still pending and that’s probably all I could contribute in this kind of setting.”
The congresswoman then asked Wray another question about the charges against the detainees.
“Well, the 600, give or take, are all people who have been charged. Obviously, we have other ongoing investigations and there may be more charges there. And then the ones who have been charged, I think you could expect to see in some instances, superseding indictments that would add additional charges.”
Harshbarger asked if he could provide information that would help the people being held.
“I’m not sure whether that’s a classified issue. I think it varies from person to person. I’d have to see what information was appropriate. But if there’s information we can provide, we’re happy to share it with you. But I am mindful of the fact that with those 600 cases, that is quite a number of federal judges with very strong opinions about what we say about pending federal cases and I learned a long time ago as both a prosecutor and defense attorney to respect the views of the judges who are responsible for these cases,” Wray stated.
“Do you agree China’s one of the biggest threats to our national security, sir?” Harshbarger asked Wray.
“I believe that China, and by that, I mean the People’s Republic of China government, the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people, that there’s no country that represents a more significant counterintelligence threat or a more significant threat to our innovation, our economic security and our ideas. And that’s why, as you heard me say in my opening statement, we’re opening a new China counterintelligence investigation about every 12 hours. And I can assure this committee that’s not because our agents are looking around for something to do. It’s because there’s a need. And that’s why we had about 2,000 plus open investigations of that sort leading back to different parts of the Chinese government or people acting on behalf of the Chinese government even as we speak,” he asserted.
“I believe that too and I agree with Rep. Correa… these illegal drugs fentanyl, the meth that’s coming across the border… we need to hold these people accountable, and are we doing that? And, you know, all agents I talked to this morning that went to the border, the Rio Grande Valley, said, ‘Let us do our job.’ Are we letting them do their job?” the Tennessee representative asked Mayorkas.
“We are congresswoman. We most certainly are congresswoman. And we are developing new strategies all the time to meet the threat of the TCOs, the transnational criminal organizations,” Mayorkas declared.
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