October 28, 2021

Another Grilling for AG Garland

GOP senators ripped the nation’s chief law enforcement officer for equating concerned parents with domestic terrorists.

Attorney General Merrick Garland fielded many questions yesterday during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They asked him about legal cases pertaining to the January 6 Capitol breach, the illegal immigration disaster on our southern border, the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, and even the FBI’s botched investigation of serial sexual offender Larry Nassar.

But Republican senators were really only interested in one thing: the memo.

The memo. That was Garland’s response to an infamous September 29 letter to Joe Biden from the National School Board Association, which asked that the Department of Justice and the FBI investigate potential acts of what it shamefully termed “domestic terrorism” at school board meetings nationwide. What kind of “domestic terrorism”? That of parents sometimes angrily voicing their concerns about the hard-left educational curricula being pressed upon their children — one that may well include vile racist doctrines such as Critical Race Theory.

The NSBA has since fessed up to its mistake. A week after sending it, the organization retracted it and apologized for it. Better late than never. But Garland hasn’t retracted his memo — which refers to a nonexistent “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” and calls for investigation by our nation’s national security apparatus, and which therefore chills the First Amendment rights of every concerned parent in America.

Said Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton to Garland: “The National Security Division, Judge? These are the people who are supposed to be chasing jihadists and Chinese spies. What does the National Security Division have to do with parents at school boards? … This testimony, your directive, your performance is shameful. Thank God you’re not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace.”

Cotton said plenty more, too:

Louisiana Republican John Kennedy took a different approach toward Garland, dismissing the AG as “just the vessel” of delivery for this rotten message — in other words, just a partisan order taker for the Biden administration.

Tellingly, the Republicans focused intently on Garland’s directive, but Senate Democrats steered clear of it almost entirely. Indeed, Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono, who’s surely the dumbest of the upper chamber’s members, criticized her Republican colleagues for their single-minded focus. In doing so, she merely confirmed to everyone else that her counterparts were directly over the target.

Missouri Republican Josh Hawley also noted the chilling effect of the memo on concerned parents, referring specifically to a DOJ memo from the U.S. attorney for the district of Montana, which noted 13 different federal crimes that parents might face for their behavior toward school board officials, including annoying phone calls to school board members. Said Hawley:

All I can conclude from this is either that you’re not in control of your own department or that more likely what I think to be the case is that you knew full well that this is exactly the kind of thing that would happen. When you issued your memo, when you involve the Department of Justice and all of its resources, and the FBI and all of its resources, and local school boards and local school districts, you knew that federal prosecutors would start collecting crimes that they could use against parents. You knew they would advise state and local officials that these are all the ways parents might be prosecuted. You knew that that was the likely outcome. And that’s exactly what’s happened.

Hawley then concluded with a scathing refrain similar to Cotton’s: “You have weaponized the FBI and the DOJ. … It’s wrong, it’s unprecedented to my knowledge in the history of this country, and I call on you to resign.”

It’s been a rough stretch for Merrick Garland, who was also grilled last week by House Judiciary Committee Republicans. But that’s exactly the sort of treatment an attorney general deserves when he tries to politicize and weaponize our nation’s Department of Justice.

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