House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, revealed on Wednesday that different FBI field offices were involved in crafting a controversial memo outlining a plan to focus on Catholic Americans.
At first, the understanding was that the memo was limited to the Richmond Field Office in Virginia. However, a partly censored version of the memo, acquired by the committee last month, reveals that the Richmond field office had a “liaison contract” with the Portland Field Office and also integrated information from the Los Angeles Field Office.
In a letter addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray, both Jordan and Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA), who heads the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, raised inquiries regarding the omission of this information from earlier versions of the document submitted to the committee.
The correspondence states, “The newly produced version of the document explicitly states that FBI Richmond ‘coordinated with’ FBI Portland in preparing the assessment. Thus, it appears that both FBI Portland and FBI Los Angeles field offices were involved in or contributed to the creation of the FBI’s assessment of traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists.”
After the initial disclosure of the memo, Wray informed the committee during his testimony in March that he was deeply shocked upon discovering the memo’s presence. He mentioned that the FBI swiftly undertook steps to withdraw and erase it from their systems.
Wray stated, “I will note, it was a product by one field office, which, of course, we have scores and scores of these products. And when we found out about it, we took action.”
The document titled “Exploring Potential Mitigation Avenues Arising from the Intersection of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists and Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Beliefs” baselessly asserted a link between “radical-traditionalist Catholics” and “violent extremists driven by racial or ethnic motives.”
Remember the FBI Richmond Field Office memo targeting Catholics as terrorists?— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) August 9, 2023
Director Wray testified that it was only “a single field office,” doing so.
Well, a newly subpoenaed document shows otherwise.
It looks like FBI Portland & FBI Los Angeles were also involved.
The said memo states, “FBI Richmond assesses the increasingly observed interest of 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.”
Despite Wray’s previous assertion under oath that the memo originated from “a lone field office,” the recent report appears to challenge his sworn statement, potentially implying that Wray may have committed perjury during his congressional testimony.
In their communication, Jordan and Johnson offered Wray the opportunity to amend his testimony to provide a more comprehensive clarification of the FBI’s evaluation. They also requested a recorded interview with the Chief Division Counsel who approved the Richmond document.
The FBI issued a statement to defend Wray and reaffirm his initial claim. As per the FBI’s statement, Director Wray’s testimony on this matter has been honest and consistent. While the document did incorporate information from investigations carried out by other field offices on relevant subjects, it does not change the fact that the document was created by a solitary office.