FBI has not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud, Director Wray tells senators

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Threats to the Homeland” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2020.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that the bureau has not seen evidence of widespread voting fraud, an assertion that undercuts President Donald Trump’s recent warnings about the integrity of the election.

“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 told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Wray’s remarks come a day after Trump again claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting is susceptible to massive fraud, perhaps by foreign adversaries. The president refused Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transition of power if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the November election, citing concerns about “the ballots.”

Wray told lawmakers the FBI has seen voter fraud at the local level “from time to time” but disputed the possibility of fraud at the national level.

“To change a federal election outcome by mounting that kind of fraud at scale would be a major challenge for an adversary,” Wray said.

At a White House briefing on Thursday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s concerns surrounding election security: “As Attorney General Barr has said, we’ve never had an election where we’ve done mass mail-out voting like this before.”

Wray also had advice for Americans in dealing with a flood of disinformation on social media.

“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,” Wray said.

Last Thursday, Wray warned the committee that Russia is actively interfering in the upcoming U.S. presidential election by spreading misinformation about Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump later criticized Wray for his remarks.

Wray on Thursday maintained the FBI will continue to monitor election-related threats and threat actors. “We’re in uncharted new territory,” Wray said.

Trump appointed Wray to lead the FBI in 2017, after the president fired former Director James Comey.

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