FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that there is no evidence of significant mail voter fraud, directly contradicting President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr.
Wray was testifying before the Republican-led committee on threats to national security Thursday morning when he appeared to throw cold water on Trump’s oft-repeated claims — several of which have been flagged as misinformation by Twitter — that large numbers of mail-in ballots this election will amount to “fraud and abuse that will be an embarrassment to our country.”
Barr has also made false claims and dire warnings about the potential for fraud with mail-in ballots, including a significantly exaggerated story about ballot fraud in Texas that was fact-checked by ABC News.
Here’s what you need to know:
Asked About Mail-In Ballot Fraud, Wray Said the FBI ‘Has Not Seen Historically’ Any Kind of Coordinated Fraud Effort
FBI Director Wray: "We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise." pic.twitter.com/AuJz851rvt
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 24, 2020
Democratic Senator Gary Peters asked Wray about the “drumbeat of misinformation” American voters are facing this election, noting that many states have already began voting and that more than 2 million ballots are being mailed to absentee voters.
“My question to you is simple,” Peters said. “Is voting by mail secure?”
Wray did not give Peters a yes or no answer, but was clear that the FBI was no aware of any widespread election fraud by mail-in ballots.
“We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” Wray said. “We have seen voter fraud at a local level from time to time.”
Wray added that a national election fraud effort via mail-in ballots would be “a major challenge for an adversary.”
If the FBI did uncover a national election fraud effort involving mail-in ballots, “it’s something we would investigate seriously, aggressively,” he concluded.
Donald Trump Jr. has joined his father’s effort to sow mistrust in the November election results, most recently in a post Wednesday that was flagged by Twitter and fact-checked.
The Radical Left is laying the groundwork to steal the 2020 Election from our president.
We need you to join ARMY FOR TRUMP’s election security operation!
— Team Trump (Text VOTE to 88022) (@TeamTrump) September 21, 2020
“The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal the election from my father, Donald Trump,” Trump Jr. said in the video. “Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election. We cannot let that happen.”
Trump Jr. also urged supporters to create an “army for Trump” and show up at poll sites during early voting and on Election Day.
The White House did not immediately respond to Heavy’s request for comment.
Wray Also Warned Voters About Misinformation on Social Media, Urging Them to be ‘Critical Thinkers’
FBI Director Christopher Wray: "I would encourage people to be critical thinkers, and to get their news from a variety of sources and make up their own mind and be a skeptical, discerning electorate — which is what I think is the best defense against malign foreign influence" pic.twitter.com/EGHKdmqUgi
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 24, 2020
Peters also asked Wray if he had any advice for voters concerned about malign foreign actors looking to influence the election via misinformation.
Wray encouraged voters to get their news “from a variety of sources,” but to trust their local election websites above all and to steer clear of social media.
“It’s a challenge,” Wray said. “I would say when it comes to information about their voter itself, where to vote, when to vote, hours of polling places, information about the results and things like that, it’s important that Americans get that information from their officials, state and local election websites, instead of relying on something that might be on social media.”
“As far as getting news that may shift or influence their views more broadly, I would encourage people to be critical thinkers and get their news from a variety of sources and make up their own minds, and be a skeptical, discerning electorate.”
Last week while testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray said that Russia was continuing its efforts to influence the U.S. election — particularly to steer voters away from Joe Biden, CNBC reported.
“We certainly have seen very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more the malign foreign influence side of things like social media, use of proxies, state media, online journals,” Wray said.
The FBI director also said that Russians were concentrating on “denigrating” Biden, whom they view as “kind of an anti-Russian establishment.”