Republican Sen. Rand Paul sharply questioned FBI director Christopher Wray Thursday over reported collusion with Facebook that left the senator “alarmed.”
“You may think it’s just jolly well to get all this stuff without a warrant that people volunteer to you, but many of us are alarmed that you’re getting this information that are private communications between people, because it is against the law,” Paul told Wray during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “It’s against the law for Facebook, or social media companies to give it to you. But it’s also against the law for you to receive it.”
Facebook allegedly eavesdropped on private communications of people who questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election and passed information to the FBI, according to whistleblowers who talked to the New York Post.
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee released a 1,000-page report on Nov. 4 detailing allegations of misconduct by the agency.
“Are you taking information that you’re getting not through the warrant process, and then going around and coming back and using that as a predicate for getting a warrant to actually get the information you’ve already been given?” Paul asked Wray, who admitted that the FBI got “tips” from companies and used them to eventually start “lawful processes.”
Wray told Paul that the FBI received tips about foreign accounts, citing Russia’s intelligence services as an example, along with threats of violence.
“The question is — is when we start to talk about political speech,” Paul said.
“What ‘The New York Post’ article said is, yes, you’re getting this,” Paul continued. “And then when they’re finally read in context — and this is from a whistleblower, which makes us suspect you’re not being forthcoming or honest with us — is that whistleblowers are saying you are receiving this information from Facebook and others, and that you are going around the Constitution then come back and try to get warrants for it. But then once you read it, there’s been no actionable intelligence on this. But this is an active program that you’ve got. You work for the government, you should admit to us whether or not you have a program going after our speech.”
Democratic Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the chairman of the committee, cut off Paul as he finished.
“We investigate violence, not speech,” Wray said.