FBI Director Dodges Question on Why Jan. 5 Pipe Bomber Has Yet to Be Caught

The director of the FBI sidestepped a question on why the agency has yet to catch the person who planted pipe bombs near the Democratic and Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington D.C. the night before the January 6 riots, despite the investigation being ongoing for over two years.

In an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier on Tuesday, Christopher Wray said a team was "focussed exclusively" on the investigation, and said he had "total confidence" they will find a culprit.

While investigators have linked the timing and location of the planting of the explosives to the January 6 attack, they have not publicly connected any of the hundreds of people they have arrested to date to the attempted pipe bombings.

According to the FBI, a single suspect placed two pipe bombs in the vicinity of both the major parties' headquarters—near the U.S. Capitol—between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. ET on January 5, 2021.

FBI director Christopher Wray
FBI Director Christopher Wray arrives to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the January 6th insurrection, in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2021. On Tuesday night, he dodged a question on why the person who planted pipe bombs in the capital the night before has yet to be caught. MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

CCTV footage obtained by investigators shows a person wearing a face mask, a gray hooded sweatshirt, gloves, and gray Nike Air Max shoes. The suspect is seen transporting the pipe bombs to their intended locations using a backpack.

During the interview, Wray was asked a question posed by journalist Ford Fischer on Twitter who noted that the pipe bombs "diverted law enforcement attention and resources on January 6."

"With hundreds of other January 6 defendants arrested over two years, how has the bomber still not been caught, and does the FBI director still feel [confident] that they will someday be brought to justice?" he wrote.

As of Tuesday, 985 people have been arrested across the U.S. for alleged crimes related to the Capitol riots, according to the Department of Justice's latest tally.

Many involved in the attack have been identifiable through footage from the event, choosing not to wear a face mask or posting about their involvement through social media.

But why investigators have yet to apprehend the gloved and masked attempted bomber was a question Wray chose not to answer.

"Well I will say that I have enormous confidence in the team, the dedicated team that is focussed exclusively on that investigation. We have devoted loads and loads of effort into that specific investigation," Wray said.

"We've done investigative publicity—calling for the public's help—so our folks are working very, very hard on that investigation," he added. "Those FBI agents, analysts, and professional staff, I have total confidence in them."

The FBI said in January that identifying the perpetrator of the attempted bombing "remains a priority" for investigators at multiple agencies, who at that point had conducted over 1,000 interviews, collected 39,000 video files, and assessed nearly 500 tips from the public.

"Despite the unprecedented volume of data review involved in this case, the FBI and our partners continue to work relentlessly to bring the perpetrator of these dangerous attempted attacks to justice," David Sundberg, assistant director overseeing the FBI field office in Washington D.C., said at the time.

In January, the FBI raised the reward for information that would lead to an arrest to $500,000, up from an initial $100,000.

When asked to comment, an FBI spokesperson told Newsweek: "The investigation is continuing. We have nothing to add to Director Wray's comments at this time."

In the same Fox News interview, Wray said that the FBI believes it "most likely" that the COVID-19 virus originated from a government-controlled lab in China, suggesting it was potentially the result of a "lab incident."

Update 03/01/23, 10:59 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from an FBI spokesperson.