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Rubio, Republican Intel Members Question FBI on Targeting of Catholics

Sep 13, 2023 | Press Releases

On January 23, 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office in Richmond, Virginia published an eight-page memorandum titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.” The FBI used this document as justification for their targeting of American Catholics.

Last month, new information from the FBI to the House Committee on the Judiciary Committee contradicted FBI Director Wray’s March 8, 2023 testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In response, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Republican colleagues of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a written explanation about the matter. 

  • “Not only did this memorandum make outrageous and sweeping generalizations about the Catholic faith and millions of Americans, but the memorandum also relies on wholly unsubstantiated news sources, a left-wing organization, and biased and partisan definitions of hate groups in the United States. Given new revelations regarding inter-FBI coordination of this assessment, we request that you provide a written explanation of the steps that FBI has taken to effectively preclude such unconstitutional products going forward, as well as a briefing to this Committee on that written product no later than September 29, 2023.
  • “The mission of the FBI is ‘to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.’ This memorandum, and its underlying processes, neither protect the American people, nor uphold the Constitution. The FBI does not exist to harass law-abiding Americans, nor will Congress permit the FBI to do so. Instances like this only serve to weaken the public’s faith in institutions critical to our nation’s security and safety.”

Joining Rubio were Senators James Risch (R-ID), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jerry Moran (R-KS), James Lankford (R-OK), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

The full text of the letter is below. 

Dear Director Wray:

We write with deep concern regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) targeting of Catholics under the pretext of investigating racially or ethnically motivated extremists and have many questions about the underlying processes that FBI employed to develop such errant analysis.

On January 23, 2023, the FBI field office in Richmond, Virginia published an eight-page memorandum titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic (“RTC”) Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.” The memorandum suggests that “FBI Richmond relied on the key assumption that [racially or ethnically motivated extremists] will continue to find RTC ideology attractive and will continue to attempt to connect with RTC adherents, both virtually via social media and in-person at places of worship.” On March 8, 2023, you testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that this memorandum was an isolated product of only one field office. We are deeply troubled to learn that documents shared with the House Committee on the Judiciary in July revealed that the FBI relied on information from around the country including a liaison contact in the FBI’s Portland, Oregon Field Office and reporting from the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office—to develop its assessment. As such, we are concerned that this new information contradicts your March 8, 2023, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Not only did this memorandum make outrageous and sweeping generalizations about the Catholic faith and millions of Americans, but the memorandum also relies on wholly unsubstantiated news sources, a left-wing organization, and biased and partisan definitions of hate groups in the United States. Given new revelations regarding inter-FBI coordination of this assessment, we request that you provide a written explanation of the steps that FBI has taken to effectively preclude such unconstitutional products going forward, as well as a briefing to this Committee on that written product no later than September 29, 2023.

The mission of the FBI is “to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.” This memorandum, and its underlying processes, neither protect the American people, nor uphold the Constitution. The FBI does not exist to harass law-abiding Americans, nor will Congress permit FBI to do so. Instances like this only serve to weaken the public’s faith in institutions critical to our nation’s security and safety.

We look forward to your reply to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,