Documents: Several FBI Offices Contributed to Anti-Catholic Memo


Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray is sworn in prior to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)


House Republicans have uncovered FBI documents which they claim establish a direct contradiction to recent congressional testimony given by FBI Director Christopher Wray. The documents suggest that several FBI field offices played a part in drafting a memo that targeted traditionalist Catholics as potential domestic terrorists.

In a letter dispatched to Wray, Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee divulged that the subpoenaed document revealed both the FBI Portland and FBI Los Angeles field offices’ involvement in the creation of this controversial memo.

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“This new information suggests that the FBI’s use of its law enforcement capabilities to intrude on Americans’ First Amendment rights is more widespread than initially suspected,” remarked Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mike Johnson (R-LA).

These recent revelations starkly contrast with Wray’s previous testimony wherein he declared the FBI’s anti-Catholic initiative was the work of “a single product by a single field office.”

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The crux of the controversy revolves around an internal memo from the FBI’s Richmond field office, titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.” This leaked document identified “radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]” as potential violent extremists and alluded to opportunities to mitigate such threats. In response to the leak, the FBI began removing the document from their systems and initiated a review.

Despite persistent efforts by the House Judiciary Committee to obtain related information, the FBI was initially reluctant to comply. However, on July 25, the FBI presented a version of the Richmond document with fewer redactions. This new version purportedly affirmed that investigations into Catholic entities in Los Angeles and Portland contributed to the Richmond office memo. The legislators thus questioned the rationale behind redacting this information in earlier versions and reinforced their demand for an unredacted document.

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Challenging the Republicans’ claims, the FBI responded, “Director Wray’s testimony on this matter has been accurate and consistent.” They maintained that while the document did reference information from various field office investigations, it remained a product of a singular office.

Emphasizing their stance, the FBI added, “We do not conduct investigations based solely on religious affiliations or practices, or any other First Amendment protected activity.” They clarified that the document was an intelligence product pertaining to potential threats in the Richmond Field Office’s jurisdiction.

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The Republican leaders are now pressing for further documentation, including communications related to the memo from the Richmond, Los Angeles, and Portland field offices, and intelligence stemming from the memo. They have set a deadline of August 23 for the agency’s response.


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