Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, has joined with six other Senate Republicans in calling for the Attorney General of the United States to return to Capitol Hill and face additional questions about the Justice Department’s role in addressing tensions between parents and school boards.
According to Fox News, Attorney General Merrick Garland has been asked by seven GOP leaders to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are concerned that previous testimony appeared to be “deeply misleading” in describing the department’s attempts to counter purported school board intimidation.
Senator Sasse talked exclusively to Fox News stating that the FBI should be going after mobsters, not soccer moms. He said, “Attorney General Garland has told one story but the actions of some in the Department of Justice tell another. He needs to return to the Judiciary Committee and give clear answers to the American people.”
There was a letter sent to Garland on Monday that was co-signed by the seven Republicans voicing their concern that the Attorney General’s October 27th testimony did not align with information provided by a whistleblower. The Republicans also had questions, along with many other people during the hearing, focusing on how closely Garland intended the Department of Justice to follow his October 4th memo. This memo suggested that the FBI could be deployed to manage situations that might arise in local school board meetings.
The attorney general has avoided using the term “domestic terror” when he has referred to concerned parents in his own memo. And Garland has insisted within his previous testimony that the Justice Department would only be used when there were cases where violence had occurred or had been threatened.
But the memo in question from the attorney general was in response to a request from the National School Board Association, and it did suggest disruptive parents were potentially engaging in acts of domestic terror. It also suggested that the FBI could be deployed in instances of alleged harassment rather than only in cases of violence.
The letter from the GOP said, “We remain deeply concerned that your October 4 Memorandum is being used by the DOJ and the FBI as a basis to pursue investigations against American parents for First Amendment-protected activities.”
The signers of this letter, along with Sasse, included Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee, (R-UT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Together these Republican leaders wrote, “You stated that the ‘purpose of this Memorandum is to get our law enforcement to assess the extent of the problem’ and that the Memo ‘comes before investigations.’ When asked why the DOJ was treating parents at school boards as domestic terrorists, you said: ‘my Memo says nothing about domestic terrorism, says nothing about parents committing any such things.”
Fox News was informed by the FBI in an earlier statement that the attorney general’s memo “in no way changes the long-standing requirements for opening an investigation, nor does it represent a shift in how the FBI prioritizes threats.”
The statement from the FBI ended by staying that the Attorney General’s memorandum just simply underscored the FBI’s ongoing effort to help state, local and federal partners to deal with threats of violence, no matter what the motivation was. It said that the FBI was never in the business of investigating parents who speak out and they weren’t focusing on policing speech at school board meetings. They said that the FBI would not start that kind of action now.
We will see if Merrick Garland backs away from this perceived intimidation against concerned parents. Let’s hope that the focus once again turns toward the likes of mobsters.