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Tipsheet

House Judiciary Republicans Call Out AG Garland for Ignoring School Board Oversight

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As the November midterms loom closer, House Republicans are letting Attorney General Merrick Garland know that they haven't forgotten his ignoring of oversight efforts when it comes to school boards mislabeling concerned parents as domestic terrorists. On Monday, all 19 Republican members on the House Judiciary Committee signed a letter sent to Garland, reminding him that they "are investigating the troubling attempts."

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 Townhall obtained the letter in an exclusive first look. 

On October 4, 2021 as the letter reminds, and as Spencer covered at the time, Garland issued a memo that directed the FBI to address what was referred to as a "disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence" at school board meetings. Parents have been speaking out about COVID mandates, school closures, school safety, and curriculum, such as the implementation of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

The Judiciary Committee has more where this came from. "A protected whistleblower disclosure shows that the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division quickly effectuated your directive by compiling and categorizing threat assessments related to parents," the letter notes. "Timothy  Langan, the FBI’s Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division, later testified to the  House Intelligence Committee that the FBI discussed your directive with Justice Department officials prior to its issuance."

Such a memo came just five days after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter dated September 29, 2021 to President Joe Biden urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to use federal antiterrorism tools, even the Patriot Act, to target these parents. There was coordination between the NSBA and the White House for the letter. 

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However, the NSBA Board of Directors has since apologized, writing to the president on October 22, 2021, with original emphasis that "On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter." And yet no such move has come from the DOJ. As Katie reported shortly after the apology letter was issued, Garland actually doubled down. 

"You, however, have refused to rescind your directive, even though you testified that the NSBA letter was the basis for your October 4 memorandum Your anti-parent directive remains in effect and, as a result, the FBI continues to "tag" American parents as potential counterterrorism threats," the letter charges. 

The DOJ hasn't gotten any more forthcoming from there. The letter's opening paragraph mentions that "House Judiciary Committee Republicans have sent nearly 100 letters to Department components requesting documents and information related to this investigation" since last October. "To date, we have received only a single half-page response from the Federal  Bureau of Investigation, and none of the requested documents or substantive information."

Nevertheless, the committee members aren't giving up, as the letter reminds the attorney general that the "Committee has a constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the Department of Justice." To this effect, "Committee Republicans will not let this matter rest. We are committed to fully examining the Biden Administration’s use of counterterrorism resources in relation to school board meetings. We reiterate our outstanding document requests to the various  Departmental components and ask that you produce this material immediately," the letter closes with. 

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The closing paragraph also uses Garland's own words against him from his confirmation hearing from February 2021, when he promised "the Department I lead [would] be as responsive as possible" to congressional oversight. Garland also explained that the "oversight responsibility" of Congress is a "duty imposed by the Constitution" that he "greatly respect[s]" with the letter going on to charge that "By your obstruction during these past four months, you have failed to live up to your promise."

The issue of parents' rights is a priority for House Republicans as a whole. Last November, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rolled out a "Parents Bill of Rights," an effort in partnership with Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN)

It's not merely an issue for Republican voters, though. Even in the heavily Democratic city of San Francisco, school board members with failed priorities were recalled earlier this month by healthy majorities. 

Republican members of the Judiciary Committee include Rep. Jim Jordan (OH), who is the ranking member, as well as Reps. Steve Chabot (OH), Louie Gohmert (TX), Darrell Issa (CA), Ken Buck (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Mike Johnson (LA), Andy Biggs (AZ), Tom McClintock (CA), Greg Steube (FL), Tom Tiffany (WI), Thomas Massie (KY), Chip Roy (TX), Dan Bishop (NC), Michelle Fischbach (MN), Victoria Spartz (IN), Scott Fitzgerald (WI), Cliff Bentz (OR), and Burgess Owens (UT). 

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