Jim Jordan, 20 AGs demand answers on FBI Catholic memo

by mcardinal

Chris Lieberman, FISM News

Republicans at the state and federal level are vowing to hold the FBI accountable after it was revealed that a field office memo leaked earlier this month labeled “radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]” (RTCs) as a higher threat for domestic extremism.

The memo, leaked by former FBI agent turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphin, characterized RTCs as Catholics who reject the Vatican II council, despise post-Vatican II popes, espouse “anti-Semetic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology,” and prefer traditional Latin Mass.

Following the leak, the FBI tried to distance itself from the memo, saying in a statement to Catholic News Agency, “While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product — disseminated only within the FBI — regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI. Upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document.”

But many Republicans are unsatisfied by the FBI’s response. 20 state attorneys general wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling on the FBI to stop targeting Americans for their religious beliefs and explain the origins of the memo.

“We write with outrage and alarm to address the anti-Catholic internal memorandum produced by the FBI’s Richmond Field Office,” the letter reads. “The FBI must immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices. We also demand that the FBI produce publicly all materials relating to the memorandum and its production.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) also wrote a letter to Wray, calling the memo a “serious misuse of federal law enforcement resources,” and demanding answers on “the genesis, review, and approval of this document, as well as the FBI’s commitment to upholding First Amendment protected activity.”

Jordan and Johnson also note in their letter that the memo “cites to partisan and biased sources, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Salon, and The Atlantic to support its assessment.”

Republicans have continued to accuse the Biden administration of weaponizing the Justice Department to target political opponents.

In October 2021, Republicans blasted Garland for a memo instructing DOJ officials to investigate parents at school board meetings for threats against school officials. Last August, the FBI took the unprecedented step of raiding former president Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago. The next month, more than two dozen armed FBI agents arrested pro-life advocate Mark Houck at his Pennsylvania home. The FBI has also targeted several other pro-life advocates.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey rebuked the Biden administration for this latest example of Justice Department abuse, releasing  a statement in conjunction with the letter he helped pen. 

We already knew that President Biden was launching an attack on the First Amendment rights of Americans, as evidenced by our landmark free speech case Missouri v. Biden, but now it’s clear that he’ll weaponize unelected federal bureaucrats to go after any American who doesn’t worship the ‘right way.’ The First Amendment includes both the right to free speech and religious liberty for a reason, and my office will use any tool necessary to defend the rights of all Missourians to worship as they please.