Attorney General Merrick Garland was grilled for roughly one minute on whether he believes traditional Catholics are extremists before finally sharing his view.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) asked Garland during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, “Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists?”
“I have no idea what traditional means here,” the attorney general responded, to which Van Drew explained, “Catholics that go to church.”
Garland pressed on as he raised his voice, “The idea that anyone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous! So absurd!”
Watch the video below:
Rep. Jeff Van Drew: "Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists?"
AG Merrick Garland: "The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous, so absurd." pic.twitter.com/2w37fbg39J
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) September 20, 2023
Van Drew shot back, “It was your FBI that did this! It was your FBI that was sending — and we have the memos, we have the emails — undercover agents into Catholic churches.”
Garland noted he and FBI Director Christopher Wray were “appalled” by a now-withdrawn memo about traditional Catholic organizations and violent extremists.
A Jan. 23 memo from the FBI’s field office in Richmond, Virginia, was titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.”
“FBI Richmond assesses the increasingly observed interest of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) in radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology almost certainly presents opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development,” it stated.
As Garland expressed his dismay with the memo, Van Drew spoke over him repeatedly to ask, “So then you agree that they’re not extremists? Are they extremists or not, attorney general? Are they extremists or not, attorney general? Are they extremists or not?”
“I’m asking a simple question. Say no if you think that was wrong,” he said.
Finally, Garland responded, “Catholics are not extremists, no.”
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