(The Daily Signal) — FBI Director Christopher Wray may have lied under oath concerning the FBI Richmond office’s Jan. 23 memo citing the Southern Poverty Law Center in urging investigation of “radical traditional Catholic hate groups,” Rep. Jim Jordan suggested in a letter sent Wednesday. After publication of this story, the FBI told The Daily Signal that Wray’s testimony had been “accurate and consistent.”
On July 12, Wray testified to the House Judiciary Committee that the memo represented “a single product by a single field office, which, as soon as I found out about it, I was aghast and ordered it withdrawn and removed from FBI systems.”
Yet on July 25, 2023, the FBI produced a version of the Richmond document with fewer redactions than an earlier version the FBI had produced. “This new version shows that the FBI’s actions were not just limited to ‘a single field office,’ as you testified to the Committee,” Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in his letter to Wray.
“The document cited reporting from an ‘FBI Portland liaison contact with indirect access’ who informed on a ‘deceased [Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremist (RMVE)] subject’ who had ‘sought out a mainline Roman Catholic community’ and then ‘gravitated to [Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX)],’” Jordan, an Ohio Republican, explained. “In addition, the document noted how an FBI undercover employee with ‘direct access’ reported on a subject who ‘attended the SSPX-affiliated [redacted] Church in [redacted] California, for over a year prior to his relocation.’ The document states that FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office initiated an investigation on the ‘RMVE subject.’”
The less-redacted version of the memo also “explicitly states that FBI Richmond ‘[c]oordinated 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 FBI’s assessment of traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists,” Jordan added.
“First, they went after moms and dads at school board meetings. Now, they’re going after traditional Catholics. When’s it going to stop?” Jordan told The Daily Signal.
The FBI contested Jordan’s suggestion that Wray had lied under oath.
“Director Wray’s testimony on this matter has been accurate and consistent,” the FBI told The Daily Signal. “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. 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.”
The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for the unredacted document on April 10, and Jordan threatened to hold Wray in contempt for failing to comply with the subpoena on July 17, one week before the FBI turned over the less-redacted version on July 25.
The Judiciary Committee has demanded that the FBI provide a briefing on its internal review of this matter; that the FBI conduct a transcribed interview with the chief division council who approved the document; that the FBI turn over all documents and communications between the FBI’s Richmond, Portland, and Los Angeles field offices on the matter; that the FBI turn over a list of intelligence products that cited the reporting used in the memo; and more.
The FBI memo urged agents to probe the supposed nexus between “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” and “radical-traditional Catholics,” citing the SPLC and including a list of SPLC-designated “hate groups” for agents to target.
The FBI told The Daily Signal that it was rescinding the memo after FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published it on UncoverDC.com on Feb. 8. The national FBI office claimed that the memo “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI” and promised to remove the document from its systems and “conduct a review of the basis for the document,” but it refused to answer further questions about the move.
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it has used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents. The SPLC places conservative groups on a “hate map” with KKK chapters.
After the SPLC fired its co-founder amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal in 2019, a former staffer claimed that the SPLC’s accusations of “hate” are a “cynical fundraising scam” aimed at “bilking northern liberals.” Critics across the political spectrum have voiced opposition and alarm at the organization’s hate group smears. A terrorist even targeted an SPLC-designated “hate group” in Washington, D.C., in 2012, and he told the FBI he used the “hate map” to find his target. The SPLC condemned that act of terror, but kept the target on the list and the map.
The SPLC has also suggested that the Catholic Church itself holds a position on human sexuality that would qualify it as a “hate group.”