Breaking: GOP Sen. Josh Hawley Slams AG Merrick Garland Over “False” Testimony About Justice Department’s Recruiting Attempts Inside Churches

Senator Josh Hawley accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of providing false testimony to the Senate last month when he told them his department isn’t developing sources inside Catholic Churches and other houses of worship. Hawley demanded to know how many “undercover informants or other agents” are aiding the department from these religious sites.

“Let’s be clear: your Department has decided to turn Catholic congregations into front organizations for the FBI, and when asked about it, you’ve decided to fudge the truth before Congress,” Hawley, R-Mo., wrote in a letter to Garland on Tuesday.

“This is an unconscionable assault on American Catholics’ First Amendment rights and an abdication of your duty to enforce the law without fear or favor.”

Hawley’s letter was sent after the House Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government accused the FBI of using “at least one undercover agent” to spy on Catholic groups in Richmond, Virginia.

Hawley asked Garland whether his department had an “anti-Catholic bias,” to which Garland said, “Our department protects all religions, all ideologies. It does not have any bias against any religion of any kind.”

Hawley brought up the next part of their back-and-forth in his letter and accused Garland of lying during his testimony to Congress.

“I went on to ask you whether the Department was ‘cultivating sources and spies in Latin mass parishes and other Catholic parishes around the country.’ And again, your response could not have been clearer: ‘No, the Justice Department does not do that. It does not do investigations based on religion,’” Hawley wrote.

“Finally, I asked you ‘how many informants do you have in Catholic churches across America?’ You denied the claim a third time: ‘I don’t know, and I don’t believe we have any informants aimed at Catholic churches.’ All of this was false, as recent investigative findings by the House Judiciary Committee show,” Hawley wrote.

Hawley demanded Garland provide answers “immediately” on how many agents the DOJ would “work with or otherwise employ” at both Catholic parishes and “in religious organizations more broadly.”

“Within which, and how many, FBI field offices was guidance related to the infiltration of traditionalist Catholic parishes distributed?” he asked.

Fox News reported:

The House subcommittee, led by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday in a letter that claimed that lawmakers have “limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee” that shows “the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent” and “proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith.”

Those developments followed a leaked FBI memo that talked about “Radical Traditionalist Catholic” groups and claimed that these groups express an “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.”

“[A]t this point, it is altogether unclear how many other FBI field offices received these directives. The potential scale of this anti-Catholic program is extremely concerning,” Hawley wrote. “Everyone involved with this chilling surveillance campaign must face accountability.”

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