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FBI targeted Catholics as ‘domestic extremists’ nationwide, House GOP reveals

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)
August 11, 2023

An un-redacted memo released Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee indicates the Biden administration’s FBI probe into “radical, traditional Catholic” groups was more extensive than previously acknowledged by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Testifying before Congress in July, Wray claimed the FBI’s investigation into Catholic groups was constrained to a “single field office.”

According to The Daily Caller, Wray’s testimony came following a memo released by FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphin that claimed Catholics who did not accept the Second Vatican Council could have an inclination toward “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” The FBI later retracted the memo.

In a letter to Wray, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government Chairman Mike Johnson (R-La.) said that only July 25, the FBI submitted an updated document that showed “the FBI’s actions were not just limited to ‘a single field office.'”

The Republican lawmakers claimed the FBI’s updated document revealed interactions with a “liaison contact with indirect access” in Portland, as well as an undercover agent in California. The lawmakers explained that “most concerning of all” was the apparent revelation that FBI Richmond “coordinated with” FBI Portland in preparation of the assessment of various Catholic groups.

“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,” Jordan and Johnson wrote.

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The two GOP lawmakers told Wray the additional evidence “raises the question” why the information was previously redacted by the FBI when requested by the Judiciary Committee. Jordan and Johnson added that the revelation “reinforces” the Judiciary Committee’s “need for all FBI material responsive to the April 10 subpoena.”

Jordan and Johnson also requested documents pertaining to any communication between the Richmond and Portland field offices.

The Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed the FBI’s memo with regard to the investigation into Catholics as “potential domestic terrorists” in April in response to the department’s refusal to present the committee with the requested documents.

In light of the updated evidence, Jordan and Johnson expressed the Judiciary Committee’s request to obtain additional information, as well as allow Wray to amend his previous testimony.

“We look forward to receiving a briefing on the FBI’s internal review of this matter and to interviewing the Special Agent in Charge of the Richmond field office,” the two representatives said. “We again reiterate our outstanding requests, including our request to conduct a transcribed interview with the Chief Division Counsel who approved the Richmond document.”