Rep. Jim Jordan Threatens FBI Director Wray With Contempt Over ‘Targeting’ Parents, Catholics

Rep. Jim Jordan Threatens FBI Director Wray With Contempt Over ‘Targeting’ Parents, Catholics
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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has threatened to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress if the bureau does not comply with two subpoenas related to its alleged targeting of concerned parents and Catholics.

In his letter to Mr. Wray on July 17, Mr. Jordan highlighted the FBI’s “wholly inadequate” response to the subpoenas, which he believed hindered the committee’s oversight efforts.

“Of particular interest to the Committee is the FBI’s weaponization of its law-enforcement powers against Americans who exercise their First Amendment rights,” Mr. Jordan wrote (pdf).

The first subpoena, issued on Feb. 3, requested documents and information related to the “FBI’s targeting of concerned parents who speak out at school board meetings.”

The second subpoena, issued on April 10, was about the “FBI’s profiling of traditional Catholics as domestic extremists.”

“To date, the FBI’s compliance with these subpoenas has been wholly inadequate and has materially impeded the Committee’s oversight efforts,” Mr. Jordan wrote.

After several accommodations, months of persistent outreach by the Committee, and attempts to negotiate and work with the FBI in good faith, we write to notify you that if the FBI does not improve its compliance substantially, the Committee will take action—such as the initiation of contempt of Congress proceedings—to obtain compliance with these subpoenas.”

The deadline for the FBI to provide the requested documents is set for July 25 at 12 p.m.

The committee has already received some documents from the FBI, but believes that there are additional materials still not provided.

“The FBI’s productions to date have not included material the Committee knows is, or has reason to believe may be, in the FBI’s possession and that is responsive to the subpoena,” Mr. Jordan wrote.

One specific record the committee wants is an email that might shed light on the connection between the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) 2021 letter to President Joe Biden and the FBI’s focus on alleged threats made by vocal parents at school board meetings.

“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” the NSBA wrote in the 2021 letter to Mr. Biden. The letter asked for federal law enforcement support, as school board members faced parents expressing concerns about COVID-19 masking and the teaching of critical race theory.

The association later apologized for the letter.

FBI Did Not ‘Sufficiently Comply’

The subpoenas were initially issued in response to a memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, addressing an alleged increase in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.

According to Mr. Jordan, the FBI did not “sufficiently comply on a voluntary basis,” having only turned over four redacted pages of school board-related documents submitted by the initial March 1 deadline.

In a cover letter signed by Acting Assistant Director of Congressional Affairs Christopher Dunham, it was stated that the response included information that the FBI managed to prepare within the time since receiving the subpoena on Feb. 3, following the accommodation process.

Despite the committee’s willingness to accept documents on a rolling basis, the FBI’s response has been deemed underwhelming. Mr. Jordan alleges that the FBI’s handling of the subpoenas undermines the bureau’s commitment to protect First Amendment rights and accountability.

Furthermore, the FBI’s refusal to provide names of employees involved in the memo drafting, reviewing, approving, or disseminating process raised concerns about religious liberties protection, Mr. Jordan wrote.

A similar tactic was used in May when House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) threatened to hold Mr. Wray in contempt when attempting to obtain an unclassified file related to Biden’s alleged bribe from a Ukrainian energy executive. Ultimately, Mr. Wray agreed to share a redacted version of the information with Oversight Committee members.

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