FBI Director Chris Wray says he’s ‘not aware of any investigation’ against Trump related to the insurrection

FBI Director Chris Wray said Thursday that he is “not aware of any investigation” against former President Donald Trump in connection with the January 6 insurrection.

“I’m not aware of any investigation that specifically goes to that, but we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of investigations related to January 6, involving lots and lots of different pieces of it,” Wray told the House Judiciary Committee in response to a question from Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had repeated various statements made by Trump prior to the attack on the US Capitol, asking the FBI director if “Trump’s actions, words, deeds, on that day” were seen as a contributing factor to the violence.

It was part of an aggressive line of questioning from Democrats on the committee who have been trying to pin the attack on the former President, while suggesting the FBI hasn’t taken seriously the threat of White supremacy that has been highlighted as more arrests are announced.

Chairman Jerry Nadler set the tone for the hearing in his opening remarks, focusing on what the FBI knew about the threat ahead of the January 6 attack, which resulted in the death of five people, more than 100 law enforcement officers injured and millions of dollars in damages to the Capitol building.

“That attack is very much still with us, Director Wray. The threat is ongoing and we need your help to do the work of reckoning on with it,” the New York Democrat said. “For a start, we need to understand what the bureau knew in the run up to the attack, when it knew it, and what prevented it from disrupting the work of the terrorists who planned it, because we know the attack was not a spontaneous event.”

More than five months after hundreds of pro-Trump supporters gathered in Washington, DC, for a “Save America” rally that was littered with rhetoric from Trump and his allies to stop the Electoral College count, nearly 500 people have been charged in connection to the insurrection. As the federal government continues to announce arrests, Wray said he expects more serious charges.

Among those charged have been members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and other far-right extremist organizations. More than a dozen Oath Keepers have conspiracy charges against them in connection to the riot.

Wray testified that the FBI “does not and should not police ideology” nor do they “investigate groups or individuals based on the exercise of First Amendment protected activity alone.”

“But when we encounter violence and threats to public safety, the FBI will not hesitate to take appropriate action,” he said.

Wray said that his “utmost concern” is the increase in violence across the country, adding that the FBI has initiated more hate crime investigations this fiscal year than in the past five years.

But Nadler took aim at the bureau, saying the FBI has for “far too long downplayed” the threat of White supremacy. The FBI, he said, has “lumped together a wide range of activities under the term racially motivated violent extremism, as if there were any equivalence whatsoever between Black and brown activists marching for justice and the right-wing extremists who attack the Capitol Police and try to hang Mike Pence.”

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, who has been an activist since the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014, said she knows first-hand that the FBI utilizes investigative materials like surveillance aircrafts to monitor protests related to racial justice.

“The Bureau has a White supremacy problem within its ranks. The choice to not pursue White supremacist violence like what we saw on January 6 is not because the Bureau does not have the resources or the statutory discretion to do so,” Bush said. “It is a blatant dismissal of White supremacy as a threat. It is racist, it’s unethical, it’s unconscionable.”

Wray was unable to respond to Bush as the allotted five minutes given to each member of Congress to ask questions had expired.

Democratic Reps. Veronica Escobar of Texas and Mondaire Jones of New York separately pressed Wray about their concerns of possible threats to democracy, like Trump’s theory he’s been sharing with aides — first reported by the New York Times — that he’ll be reinstated in August, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn appearing to support a Myanmar-style coup in the US in remarks captured on video. For months, QAnon and Trump-supporting online forums have celebrated the deadly military coup in Myanmar and suggested the same should happen in the United States so Trump could be reinstated as president. The former Trump national security adviser has claimed he wasn’t endorsing such a coup.

“In my role I think I have to be careful to speak through our work and when the FBI director speaks, I speak through our investigations, and our intelligence products. And so I just, I don’t think I should be starting to start chiming in on other people’s public chatter or rhetoric, no matter what it is,” Wray responded to Jones’ inquiry. He gave a similar response to Escobar.

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The pandemic changed the way we ate and shopped — not always for the better

The pandemic changed the way we ate and shopped — not always for the better

FILE – In this May 23, 2011 file photo, consumer Sonia Romero shops for tomatoes at a Superior Grocers store in Los Angeles. As food costs continue rising, many grocery shoppers are seeking new ways to cut costs. After you’ve tried every store brand and linked, scanned and clipped every coupon in sight, what about buying in bulk? (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(CNN) — Covid-19 affected our lives in so many ways, including how we ate and shopped. The changes were not always for the better, according to a series of reports presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition.

Increase in junk food intake

An analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some of us increased our consumption of unhealthy snacks and desserts, including chips, cookies and ice cream, while also guzzling more sugary drinks such as sweetened coffee and teas, regular sodas, fruit drinks, and sports or energy drinks.

Over a third (36%) of the nearly 4,000 Americans who were surveyed in June 2020 reported sometimes consuming more unhealthy snacks and desserts than before the pandemic, while 22% said they sometimes drank sugary drinks.

However, 16% said they ate snacks and sweets often or always, while 10% said the same of sugary beverages. People who reported consuming the most unhealthy foods and drinks were more likely to identify as Hispanic or Black and be younger than age 65, obese, female, and of lower income and education levels.

The same survey also asked about food availability and safety. Nearly 6 in 10 people — predominately lower-income, unemployed, Black or Hispanic adults — said they were worried about not being able to obtain food at nearby stores or were concerned they might catch Covid-19 from food. Early fears that Covid-19 could be spread via food packaging were quickly discounted by scientists.

These findings “highlight the importance of strategies and communications that reduce fears and prevent unintended negative behaviors,” such as food hoarding and panic buying, said dietitian Brianna Dumas, a fellow in the CDC’s Research Participation Program, in an abstract.

In addition, public health officials should stress “consumer awareness of food access options during emergencies, including promotion of hunger safety net programs, especially among disproportionately affected groups,” Dumas said.

A drop in healthy foods

Another study analyzed the diets of more than 2,000 Americans before and during the pandemic and found a decrease in the consumption of healthy foods, including vegetables and whole grains, during the past year.

“This decrease was the most pronounced among women, black and Latino study participants, and participants who gained at least five pounds or more since 2018,” said Caroline Um, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Cancer Society, in a statement.

Um plans to follow study participants to understand how their diets might continue to change. Other studies will investigate which factors, such as mental health or financial stressors, might be involved in the change in eating behaviors.

Kids gained weight

Nearly 30% of 433 parents surveyed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University said their child had gained an average of 9.6 pounds in the months between May and September of 2020.

Parents of children between 5 and 18 years old were questioned before the pandemic and again in May and September of 2020 about their concerns regarding their child’s weight.

Families who said their child gained weight during that time period were concerned about that trend and attempted to monitor and restrict their child’s eating habits in both May and September. However, in families where children did not gain weight, parents were initially concerned and monitored their child’s food intake in May, but had stopped doing so by September.

Further research is needed to investigate and target the “different behavioral, societal, environmental, and psychosocial factors” that might contribute to weight gain among children and adolescents, wrote Melanie Bean, an associate professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Healthy Lifestyles Center at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, in an abstract.

Teasing people about their weight

Another study presented at the conference looked at the impact on children when family members teased them or made other critical comments about their weight. Researchers from Tufts University found that exposure to negative family comments about weight “as little as 3 times per month was significantly associated with moderate to high levels of weight bias internalization,” according to the study.

Prior research has shown that when children and adults experience weight stigma and internalize it, that itself can predict weight gain.

“A common perception is that a little shame or stigma might motivate people to lose weight, but that is not what we see in research,” Rebecca Puhl, deputy director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, told CNN in a prior interview.

“In fact, when people experience weight stigma, this actually contributes to unhealthy eating behaviors, lower physical activity and weight gain,” Puhl said. “Our studies show that when parents shift the conversation to healthy behaviors, that tends to be much more effective.

“The focus isn’t on the number on the weight scale, but on the whole family eating fruits and vegetables, replacing soda with water, getting daily physical activity,” she added.

Online grocery shopping

A study done in the early days of the pandemic — March and April of 2020 — found that a third of the nearly 18,000 households surveyed said they were shopping online for groceries, and, of those, 60% said they planned to continue to do so after the pandemic passed.

Their top reasons? Over 80% said it was to “avoid public germs and Covid-19,” while 44% wanted to “take advantage of the convenience,” according to Shu Wen Ng, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Higher food prices in areas with higher restrictions

Researchers from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy analyzed retail prices for food and other consumer goods in 133 counties in the United States and compared them to the levels of Covid-19 restrictions imposed by local governments.
Results showed that a higher level of government restrictions during the pandemic was associated with higher food prices, but did not affect the cost of other consumer goods.