(LifeSiteNews) — FBI Director Christopher Wray has doubled down on his defense of the heavily armed FBI SWAT raid of pro-lifer Mark Houck’s home in September.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Wray was pressed on whether he supports the SWAT team home invasion of Houck, a father of seven who was arrested for alleged “FACE Act” violations after he shoved a man who was reportedly saying vulgar things to his son for “weeks” on end even as Houck repeatedly asked him to stop.
SHOCK: FBI Director Chris Wray REFUSES to condemn armed raid and arrest of pro-life activist Mark Houck when questioned by @RepChipRoy:
“I could not disagree more with your description of the FBI as ‘tyrannical!'” pic.twitter.com/Vgx3QwqyY3
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) July 12, 2023
“I’m not going to second guess the judgment of the career agents on the ground who made the determination,” Wray said when questioned by Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas.
“Your job is to second guess and look at what they are doing,” Roy replied. “Your job is to review what they do. Your job is to protect the American people from a tyrannical FBI storming the home of an American family.”
“I could not disagree more with your description of the FBI as tyrannical,” Wray argued.
“They did not storm his house,” he continued just after Roy’s time to speak had expired.
“They came to his door. They knocked on his door and identified themself. They asked him to exit, he did without incident. Whenever our agents conduct arrests — our agents are armed virtually all the time as you may remember from your experiences as a prosecutor,” said Wray, appearing to suggest that the FBI agents who arrested Houck were merely armed as usual with handguns.
Wray’s description of Houck’s arrest is markedly different from that of Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, who told LifeSiteNews after the incident that a SWAT team of about 25 FBI agents arrived at their property early in the morning on September 23 and were “pounding on the door and yelling for us to open it.”
When Houck opened the door, “they had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house,” Ryan-Marie recounted.
“The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic,” she explained.
The case drew intense national scrutiny and outrage, and in January a jury found Houck not guilty of either felony the administration had charged him with.
Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri confronted Attorney General Merrick Garland in March about what he decried as an excessive and “unprecedented” use of force against Houck.
“You used an unbelievable show of force with guns, that I just note, liberals usually decry,” Hawley told Garland. “We’re supposed to hate long guns and assault-style weapons, you’re happy to deploy them against Catholics and innocent children.”
Asked before Congress why he was targeted by Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ), Houck said he believes “the intention was to humiliate me, to scare my children, and to instill fear in pro-life America.”
The DOJ has been increasingly under fire from congressmen and political commentators for “weaponizing” itself against pro-lifers, Catholics, and conservatives as it neglects the prosecution of perpetrators of hundreds of incidents of damage, including arson, of pro-life institutions across the country.
Hawley noted in a September letter to Garland that the targeting of Houck was “especially shocking” considering that the DOJ “has so far turned a blind eye to the epidemic of violence across the country by pro-abortion extremists against pregnancy resource centers, houses of worship, and pro-life Americans.”
During Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, pressed Wray on the FBI’s Richmond field office targeting of so-called “radical traditional Catholics.”
Republican representative from Ohio Jim Jordan grills FBI director Christopher Wray for spying on Traditional Latin Mass Catholics 🔥 pic.twitter.com/u4tfj3sxAx
— Sachin Jose (@Sachinettiyil) July 12, 2023
A roundly condemned memo leaked in February stated that “observed interest of Racially… Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVE) in Radical Traditionalist Catholic (RTC) Ideology almost certainly presents new opportunities for threat mitigation” via church spying (“tripwire and source development”).
Jordan quoted from the document, asking Wray, “Do you think priests should be informants inside the church?”
Wray responded with a prepared statement: “We do not recruit, open, or operate confidential human sources to infiltrate, target, report on religious organizations,” he said, glancing down as he read from the pre-written defense.
Asked what he thought the “motivation” behind the memo was, Wray replied, “That’s what I think our internal review will find and I’d rather wait until I hear [what] the results of that internal review are.”
“Well, I don’t need the internal review, I can read the document. I assume you can do the same,” Jordan responded. “Because it says right there on the same page: ‘Richmond assesses extremist interest in radical traditional Catholics likely to increase over the next 12 to 24 months in the run up to the next general election.’”
“Events in which extremists and radical traditional catholics might have common cause include legislation, judicial decisions in areas such as abortion rights, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protection.”
“Politics is the total motivation here,” Jordan concluded. “That’s what’s scary… and five people signed off on it, including the Chief Division Counsel at the Richmond field office.”