Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan confronted FBI Director Christopher Wray at the House Weaponization Committee hearing on Wednesday about targeting Catholic Americans.
A redacted memo from the Richmond FBI field office, published in late January, targeted Catholics rejecting the reforms from the Second Vatican Council. The piece accused the traditional Catholics, who attend the pre-1970 Latin Mass, as being susceptible to “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” The agency had intended to put informants in the churches to investigate these alleged traits.
“By the way, the copy you gave us, when can we get a copy that doesn’t have all these redactions on it so we can actually see what the American taxpayers were paying for to see their rights, their First Amendment religious liberty rights, attacked?” Jordan asked, before reading a portion of the document intending to place the informants in the churches.
Wray claimed the memo is “appalling” and that he would not defend it. He then argued the agency does not “operate” any agency resources to target religious organizations.
“You think priests should be informants inside the church, director?” Jordan asked.
“We do not recruit, open, operate confidential human sources to infiltrate, target, report on religious organizations,” Wray began.
“That’s not what this said, it sounds like you were trying to do it in Richmond, Virginia,” Jordan hit back.
Wray denied the information in the report, saying there was “no investigative action” inside traditional Catholic institutions. Jordan asked the director what the motivation was for targeting and potentially investigation into traditional Catholics, to which Wray said the agency is waiting for an internal review. (RELATED: GOP Rep Rips FBI Over ‘Utter Disregard’ For Catholics’ ‘Fundamental Constitutional Freedoms’)
“Well I don’t need an internal review, I can read the document,” Jordan said. “I assume you can do the same. Because it says right there on the same page, ‘Richmond assesses extremist interest in radical, traditional Catholics likely to increase over the next 12 to 24 months in the run up to the next presidential election. Same paragraph, ‘the events of which extreme and radical traditional Catholics might have common cause include legislation, judicial decisions in such areas such as abortion rights, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protections.'”
“It’s political motivation, that’s what it is,” Jordan continued. “In the run up to the next election and they talk about the border, affirmative action and abortion rights? It’s total politics.”
Jordan then asked what Wray will do to ensure this does not occur again. Wray claimed the agency has “put in a number of fixes.”