Hawley Rips AG Garland for ‘False’ Testimony on DOJ Recruiting in Catholic Churches

Hawley Rips AG Garland for ‘False’ Testimony on DOJ Recruiting in Catholic Churches

April 11, 2023

In a letter to Garland on Tuesday morning, Sen. Josh Hawley accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of providing false testimony to the Senate last month when he said his department is not developing sources inside Catholic churches and other houses of worship, and 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. “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 the Richmond, Virginia, area.

The senator clashed with Garland over the same issue during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing just last month. Then, Hawley pressed Garland on 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 recalled the next part of their back-and-forth in his letter on Tuesday, 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 called on Garland to provide answers “immediately” on how many agents 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.

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