On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) revealed that there were multiple FBI field offices involved in the drafting of a controversial memo outlining a plan for targeting Catholic Americans.
As the New York Post reports, the memo in question was originally thought to have been limited exclusively to the Richmond Field Office in Virginia. However, a less-redacted version of the memo, obtained by the committee last month, reveals that the Richmond field office had a “liaison contract” with the Portland Field Office, and also used information from the Los Angeles Field Office.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Jordan and Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, asked Wray why he “redacted this information in previous versions of the document you produced to the Committee.”
“[T]he newly produced version of the document explicitly states that FBI Richmond ‘coordinated with’ FBI Portland in preparing the assessment,” the two chairmen wrote. “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 news of the memo first broke, Wray told the committee during testimony in March that he was “aghast” upon discovering the memo’s existence, and that the FBI “took steps immediately to withdraw it and remove it from FBI systems.”
“I will note, it was a product by one field office, which, of course we have scores and scores of these products,” Wray said, under oath. “And when we found out about it, we took action.”
The memo, titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” baselessly claimed that there was a link between “radical-traditionalist Catholics,” and “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”
“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,” said the memo.
Despite Wray’s previous testimony that the memo was a “single product by a single field office,” the new report appears to directly contradict what Wray said under oath, thus raising the possibility that Wray committed perjury before Congress.
In their letter, Jordan and Johnson offered Wray the chance to “amend your testimony to fully explain the nature and scope of the FBI’s assessment.” They also demanded “a transcribed interview with the Chief Division Counsel who approved the Richmond document.”
The FBI released a statement defending Wray and doubling down on his original claim.
“Director Wray’s testimony on this matter has been accurate and consistent,” the FBI statement read. “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.”