Christopher Wray repeatedly declined to provide details related to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, with the FBI director on multiple occasions pointing to the nature of the investigation into the officer’s death following the storming of the Capitol building in January.
Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the bureau views the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol as “domestic terrorism,” and he assured senators that the FBI is working hard to investigate. The death of Sicknick after he responded to the Capitol riot remains a mystery.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said, “We all want to know what happened to Officer Brian Sicknick — a tragic death as a result of that Jan. 6 assault.” But he added that there had been conflicting reports about his cause of death, pressing Wray on whether investigators had determined the exact cause of death and asking if there was a homicide investigation.
“There is an ongoing investigation into his death. I have to be careful at this stage, because it’s ongoing, not to get out in front of it,” Wray said. “But I certainly understand and respect and appreciate the keen interest in what happened to him. After all, he was here protecting all of you, and as soon as there is information that we can appropriately share, we want to be able to do that.”
Wray added, “We’re not at a point where we can disclose or confirm a cause of death.”
The Capitol Police announced that Sicknick, a 42-year-old who joined the agency in 2008, died around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, one day after rioters broke into the Capitol as lawmakers counted electoral votes to affirm President Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump.
“Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries,” the Capitol Police said in a statement, adding that Sicknick’s death would be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police, and federal partners. Charges have yet to be filed.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz followed up later in the Tuesday hearing, saying, “There obviously is considerable interest and concern in the Senate and across the country as to the circumstances of Officer Sicknick’s death. … Is there any information that the FBI can share with the American people about what we know of the circumstances surrounding his tragic death?”
Wray largely dodged the question.
“At the moment, other than to say that the Capitol Police has, of course, categorized it, I think appropriately, as a line-of-duty death, there’s nothing really I can share right now,” Wray replied. “Certainly, I understand why it’s very much top of mind of people, and I think it speaks well of the members of Congress that they are so interested in somebody who has lost his life protecting all of you. So as soon as we’re in a position when the investigation has gotten to a stage where we can share information, we want to be able to do that.”
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter, was also shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer while allegedly attempting to climb through a window into the Speaker’s Lobby. Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said that “specialized teams” were investigating the deaths of Sicknick and Babbitt during a Jan. 26 press conference.
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