House Republicans have obtained evidence that proves FBI Director Christopher Wray lied during his sworn testimony before Congress regarding an anti-Catholic memo.
FBI documents have now been obtained that prove several field offices contributed to a memo that targeted traditionalist Catholics.
The memo labeled traditionalist Catholics as “potential terrorists.”
The new evidence conflicts with recent sworn testimony from Wray, according to Republican leadership on the House Judiciary Committee.
In a letter sent to Wray on Wednesday, the Committee reveals that the document they subpoenaed from the agency details how “both FBI Portland and FBI Los Angeles field offices were involved in or contributed to the creation of FBI’s assessment of traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists.”
“This new information suggests that the FBI’s use of its law enforcement capabilities to intrude on American’s First Amendment rights is more widespread than initially suspected,” Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and co-chair Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) wrote in the letter.
The information contradicts Wray’s congressional testimony that the FBI’s anti-Catholic initiative was “a single product by a single field office.”
Wray argued that the anti-Catholic document was produced by a rogue agent and didn’t reflect the agenda of the federal agency.
As Slay News reported at the time, the FBI Richmond internal memo, titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” was leaked in January and drew instant criticism from Republicans.
It identified “radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]” as potential “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” and said that “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) in radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology almost certainly presents opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development.”
Following the leak of the memo, the FBI claimed that “headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document.”
Jordan and Johnson wrote Wednesday that, for months, the Committee sought information relating to that memo.
However, the FBI failed to voluntarily comply with their request.
On July 25, the FBI produced a version of the Richmond document with fewer redactions than the two previous versions it provided, the lawmakers said.
Republicans say the new version with fewer redactions makes it clear that investigations into Catholic organizations in Los Angeles and Portland fed into the Richmond office memo.
“Most concerning of all the newly produced version of the document explicitly states that FBI Richmond ‘[c]oordinated with’ FBI Portland in preparing the assessment,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Thus, it appears that both FBI Portland and FBI Los Angeles field offices were involved in or contributed to the creation of FBI’s assessment of traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists,” they said.
“This revelation raises the question of why you redacted this information in previous versions of the document you produced to the Committee, and it reinforces the Committee’s need for all FBI material responsive to the April 10 subpoena, including the production of FBI’s Richmond document without redaction,” the lawmakers said.
In a Wednesday statement, the FBI disputed the Republicans’ assertions that Wray’s testimony contradicted their findings in the new version of the document they subpoenaed:
“Director Wray’s testimony on this matter has been accurate and consistent.
“While the document referred to information from other field office investigations of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremist (RMVE) subjects, that does not change the fact the product was produced by a single office.”
“The FBI investigates violence, threats of violence, and violations of federal law,” the agency said.
“We do not conduct investigations based solely on religious affiliations or practices, or any other First Amendment protected activity.”
“To be clear, the document was a domain perspective which is an intelligence product designed to address potential threats in a particular area—in this case, the Richmond Field Office’s area of responsibility,” the FBI added.
“Because the product failed to meet FBI standards, it was quickly removed from all FBI systems and a review was launched to determine how it was produced in the first place.”
House Republicans are now asking for even more documentation on communications with the Richmond, Los Angeles and Portland field offices on the memo, all intelligence gathered based on the memo, among other things.
They gave the FBI until August 23 to respond.