Attorney General Garland Pleads Ignorance on Anti-Catholic Memo Fallout

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Attorney General Merrick Garland testified Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee that he is unaware of the results from his department’s investigations into the anti-Catholic “Richmond memo.”

The House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government questioned Garland on a broad range of issues related to the politicization of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI. CatholicVote and Judicial Watch are engaged in an ongoing lawsuit against the FBI over its failure to provide information about its activities targeting Catholics.  

Are Catholics Extremists?

The hearing grew heated as it headed into its fourth hour when Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-NJ, asked Garland, “Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists?”

Van Drew referenced the Richmond memo, published by former FBI Agent Kyle Seraphin in January 2023, as well as documentation the FBI released to Congress in April. 

That new information indicated that the bureau had sought to use Catholic churches as “new avenues for tripwire and source development,” including at “mainline Catholic parishes” and among “local diocesan leadership.” Congress also ascertained that the so-called “Richmond” memo was not a one-off product of a single field office, but involved agents across several field offices.

Prior to the release of those documents, Garland testified under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI was not targeting Catholics.

Garland responded to Van Drew’s questions: “I have no idea what ‘traditional’ means here.” 

“Catholics who go to church,” Van Drew said.

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“The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous, so absurd… I can’t even answer your question,” Garland yelled, referring to family members who perished in the Holocaust.

Van Drew insisted that “the buck stops with you, Mr. Garland. We have the memos and the emails sending undercover agents into Catholic churches. So are they extremists or not?”

“The director of the FBI and I have said we were appalled by that memo,” Garland stated.

“Are Catholics extremists or not?” Van Drew repeated several times until Garland conceded that “Catholics are not extremists.”

Van Drew then asked Garland about his department’s follow-up on the so-called Richmond memo: “Was anyone fired for drafting or circulating the anti-Catholic memo? Yes or no.”

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Garland said. 

CatholicVote Director of Government Affairs Tom McClusky noted: “Merrick Garland has proved himself to either be a very bad liar or totally incompetent. Either way the answer is the same: he needs to resign or be removed from office.”

Are Parents Domestic Terrorists?

Congressman Kevin Kiley, R-CA, questioned Garland about an October 2021 memo in which he vowed to send FBI and DOJ agents to “identify” and “prosecute” “threats” connected with protests against public school officials. 

Garland did not consult with FBI Director Chris Wray before issuing the memo, he said. Garland told Kiley that “reports in the press” and a letter from the the National School Boards Association (NSBA) inspired his actions. The NSBA letter suggested that the recent activities of parents could be classified as a form of potential “domestic terrorism” and asked for the government to take action against them under the Patriot Act. 

Wray had previously testified before the same committee that he was unaware of evidence that there was any substantial threat of violence against school boards from concerned parents. Kiley also pointed out that no prosecutions or arrests have resulted from the memo.

Garland defended his 2021 statements, however, saying he would issue no retractions. He also denied that his memo had any kind of “chilling effect” on Americans’ participation in their local schools.

Garland Denies a ‘Two-Tiered’ System 

When charged with overseeing a “two-tiered” justice system, Garland insisted repeatedly that the Justice Department “treats everyone alike, regardless of party, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of wealth.”

The wideranging hearing also covered questions regarding Garland’s handling of the January 6 riot, multiple indictments of former President Donald Trump, and the ongoing Hunter Biden investigations.

Chairman Jim Jordan, R-OH, confronted Garland with the “ridiculous” plea deal the DOJ offered to Hunter Biden. 

“There’s one investigation protecting President Biden. There’s another one attacking President Trump,” Jordan said in his opening statement. “The Justice Department’s got both sides of the equation covered.”

Ignoring Whistleblowers

Congressman Mike Johnson, R-LA, asked the attorney general if action has been taken following FBI whistleblower testimonies of serious misconduct within the agency related to Hunter Biden.

“Are you aware that FBI officials have testified before this committee that there was a cumbersome, bureaucratic process that [the prosecutor] Mr. Weiss had to go through to bring charges against [Hunter Biden]?” Johnson asked.

Garland denied knowledge of the whistleblower testimony and also that the process had been cumbersome. He would not confirm or deny whether any action has been taken based on the information provided by the whistleblowers.

The post Attorney General Garland Pleads Ignorance on Anti-Catholic Memo Fallout appeared first on CatholicVote org.

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