Christopher Wray's FBI: First They Came for the Catholics

So, it appears that FBI Director Christopher Wray’s July 12 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was essentially hot, flaming garbage. RedState has covered the holes that Congress poked through his claims and testimony versus actual documents and subpoenaed records.

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Here’s a punch list:

  • Wray lied that the FBI did not surveil parents at school board meetings.

FBI agent Steve Friend called out Wray on Twitter, even alleging that he was probably suspended because he testified to Congress about it.

  • Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz questioned Wray about the FBI’s use of improper or illegal FISA queries to surveil American citizens. Wray claimed he did not know how many times the FBI had done this, despite plenty of records that showed the exact number.
  • California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, actually grilled Wray about buying data from commercial sources without a proper warrant. Wray responded that “It’s complicated,” but, as per usual, did not give a straight response.
  • Another California Representative, Republican Kevin Kiley, focused his time on the FBI targeting parents at school board meetings and the infamous National School Board Association letter, which set off the labeling of parents as domestic terrorists. Wray refused to apologize for the FBI’s role in the affair, and he also refused to say whether Attorney General Merrick Garland should apologize to parents for this overreach.
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Then there is the FBI’s targeting of Catholics, which my colleague Teri Christoph wrote about in February:

At a time when the rate of attacks on Catholic churches is increasing–a study found 278 such attacks since 2020 alone–the FBI has decided now is the time to label traditional Catholics as purveyors of anti-Semitism and white supremacy. A so-called “intelligence analyst” at the Richmond Field Office authored a recently-released report that warns the nation apparently faces a serious threat from Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass. The analyst also coined two fancy new acronyms: Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs) and Radical-Traditionalist Catholics (RTCs).

The report is long on accusations and short on actual evidence that there’s an existential threat from Catholics, who prefer monks chanting to nuns playing folk songs on tambourines.

The Eagle Forum was also none too pleased at the memo and warned that this is only the beginning:

The FBI’s recent report labeling traditional Catholics as “violent white supremacists” should give every person of faith pause. Public outcry finally led to the retraction of the memo, as Evita Duffy-Alfonso describes, but do not believe that all is now safe. As German pastor Martin Niemoller famously said in 1930s Germany, “First they came for…and I did not speak out…” Reprinted with permission. Pat Daugherty, Ed.D.

A leaked FBI report revealed that the Bureau’s Richmond, Virginia Division is investigating the threat of “white supremacy” among Catholics who prefer Latin Mass. Since the leak made headlines, FBI headquarters rescinded the report, claiming it does not “open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.”

This seems to contradict the document itself, which says its findings are based in part on “liaison reporting.”According to the document’s whistleblower and former Special Agent Kyle Seraphin, liaisons “are overt contacts with trusted members of a community or an industry.” That suggests the FBI already has been investigating Americans based on “First Amendment protected activity.”

The January 23, 2023 document claims “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” (RTCs) are “typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council” (which allowed for Mass to be said in people’s spoken language) and their “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” According to the FBI, the threat comes from RTCs increasingly fraternizing with “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists” (RMVE).

To further surveil “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics,” the document says the Bureau may potentially mitigate this “threat” with “tripwire and source development,” which means further infiltration into Catholic communities using various kinds of informants. The report also implies the FBI will begin monitoring social media posts for what it claims is “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” ideology.

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The FBI rescinded the memo, but the effect was no less chilling. When Wray was questioned by the House Judiciary Committee concerning this FBI targeting, he claimed that the action was only taken by the Virginia field office, not across multiple offices.

That, too, was a lie. The memo was not produced by a single field office. FBI offices in Portland and Los Angeles were also involved.

Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan and Chairman Mike Johnson of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government are requesting additional documents surrounding the investigation conducted by the field offices.

This new information raises additional concerns about the accuracy, completeness, and truthfulness of your testimony. We invite you to amend your testimony to fully explain the nature and scope of the FBI’s assessment of traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists.

No one will be holding their breath. As long as Biden is still in office and weaponizing the DOJ against the former president and others, Wray will continue to run interference and perform shadow investigations to distract from the real corruption and criminal activity occurring in the executive branch. In a just world where the Constitution is followed, Wray would be fired for lying under oath; yet House Republicans cannot even seem to agree on a contempt charge. In the meantime, the insidious hand of the FBI will expand its reach to other religions that do not follow the Biden agenda of: “We own your children and can do anything we want to them without your consent.”

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This is a slippery slope when the arm of government tasked with upholding the law manipulates the law in order to serve a rogue administration. At this point, defunding of this agency seems like the only wise choice.

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