What is the FBI?

The FBI's current director, Christopher Wray, was sworn in on August 2, 2017

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the lead investigative branch under the Department of Justice.

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Known by its acronym as the FBI, it is “an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities,” according to the bureau’s website.

“The FBI has the authority and responsibility to investigate specific crimes assigned to it and to provide other law enforcement agencies with cooperative services, such as fingerprint identification, laboratory examinations, and training,” states a description on the agency’s site. “The FBI also gathers, shares, and analyzes intelligence, both to support its own investigations and those of its partners and to better understand and combat the security threats facing the United States.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray on January 9, 2018 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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The current director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, was sworn in on August 2, 2017.

The bureau was founded in 1908 as a small group of special investigators formed by the head of the Department of Justice at the time, Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte. The FBI now has 56 field offices and 350 other, smaller offices, called “resident agencies.” There are also more than 60 international legal attaches, according to its website.

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The FBI conducts investigations into the following areas, among others:

  • Organized crime.
  • Drugs and violent crimes.
  • Domestic terrorism.
  • International terrorism.
  • Public corruption.
  • Foreign counterintelligence.
  • Cybercrime.
  • Civil rights.
  • White-collar crime.

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Prominent investigations handled by the agency include its probe into the Trump presidential campaign's ties with Russia. Another case that grabbed headlines for months was the sweeping college admissions scandal, which was dubbed "Varsity Blues" and implicated more than 50 parents, many of whom were business executives or celebrities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.