Hoeven, Grassley Call For Answers on FBI Richmond Memo Categorizing Catholic Practitioners as Violent Extremists

Senators Call for Transparency & Accountability Following FBI Efforts to Avoid Congressional Oversight

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in calling upon Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray to provide answers on recent revelations concerning a memo prepared by analysts in the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia field office that categorized practitioners of the Catholic faith as violent extremists. In their letter, the senators:

  • Called attention to orders from top FBI officials to permanently delete files related to the internal memo, hindering the FBI’s investigation and obstructing congressional oversight.
    • The FBI used its ongoing internal review of the document as an excuse to avoid congressional oversight.
    • With the review now concluded, the senators are raising concerns about its narrow scope and outlined necessary actions and thorough review procedures the FBI must take to foster transparency and accountability.
  • Pressed Wray about the accuracy of his congressional testimony that the memo was “a single product by a single field office.”
    • This statement conflicts with information the FBI has since provided Congress that confirmed not only that multiple field offices contributed, but also that an analyst responsible for the original memo prepared a second one for distribution to the entire FBI.


“Americans are rightly concerned about the politicization of the U.S. justice system, and conduct like the FBI’s Richmond memo serves to further undermine trust in our nation’s institutions,” said Hoeven. “It is wholly inappropriate that the FBI would allow the publication and distribution of a memo that attacks Americans’ freedom of religion, labeling faithful Catholics as violent extremists. Director Wray must answer for this memo, as well as the FBI’s insufficient internal investigation into its production and attempts to evade congressional oversight in this matter.”

In addition to Hoeven and Grassley, the letter is co-signed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). The full text of the letter can be read here.