During a Wednesday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, which Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) leads in this Congress, the chairman and FBI Director Christopher Wray engaged in several minutes of discussion about a disputed internal document from Wray’s agency that had outlined what was essentially the targeting of certain Catholics.
Justice Department leadership already distanced itself from that file upon its emergence, which came amid only increasing scrutiny on high-profile political issues like abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, and affirmative action — all of which came up during Wray and Jordan’s discussion. Wray attempted to communicate to Jordan the actual context of the document, which is that it represented an ostensibly isolated problem that was swiftly put under review, with more information soon coming to Congress. It’s not super clear that Jordan took what Wray was saying seriously, instead attempting to characterize the document as indicative of broader problems.
“What I can tell you is you’re referring to the Richmond product, which was a single product by a single field office, which, as soon as I found out about it, I was aghast and ordered it withdrawn and removed from FBI systems,” Wray said.
Jordan kept asking Wray about the document as though the FBI director hadn’t already completely distanced himself from the contents of the file that he was discussing. The chairman asked him, for instance, whether he thinks priests should be informants for federal authorities, though Wray had already made his stance clear.
“We do not recruit, open, or operate confidential human sources to infiltrate, target, report on religious organizations,” Wray said. In other words, it is not clear that any investigative action whatsoever was actually taken in connection to the document that Jordan was discussing, although such might not have been clear from just listening to the Ohio Congressman.
Other contexts where Republicans have questioned Justice Department leaders about that document include a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) went after Attorney General Merrick Garland over the matter and received substantially similar answers.
Check out the proceedings from the House below: