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Tipsheet

AG Merrick Garland Deflects on Whether Nashville Shooting Will Be Investigated as Hate Crime

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In what should be a shock to nobody, a member of the Biden administration has given a weak response to Republican members asking that real, concrete action be taken. As Katie covered earlier, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) had called for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the shooting at the Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville as a hate crime, given that the suspect "targeted" the school. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) also saw such a need, as evidenced by his questioning of Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Tuesday Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. 

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"I realize that the shooter is dead, but the shooter could have had collaborators," Kennedy pointed out before asking "do you plan on opening a hate crime investigation for the targeting of Christians."

Garland's response, which amounted to something of a non-answer, pointed to how "the FBI and ATF are both on the scene working with local police" and pointed to a lack of motive according to the local police chief. He then sought to assure that "we are certainly working full-time to try and determine what the motive is, and of course motive determines whether it is a hate crime or not."

In addition to the shooter having "targeted" the school, the shooter had a manifesto. 

A more complete response on hate crimes came, sort of, when Garland was being pressed by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN). A Fox News article addressing the exchanges between Garland and the Republican senators, highlighted how an investigation could be possible. "A motive that is based on a religion on the political ideology of the victims is a hate crime," Garland told Hagerty. 

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Speaking to CNN's Manu Raju on Tuesday evening, Sen. Hawley repeated his call for an investigation.

Raju's tweet also included a clip of President Joe Biden once more joking about the incident, as he himself admitted he was doing. Biden addressed the shooting on Monday at a women's summit, though not before joking about his love for ice cream, claiming that was why he came to the event. 

Hawley retweeted the video clip in question at least twice on Tuesday morning, saying "What a disgrace" about Biden's remarks and also reminding that "There’s nothing remotely funny about hate crimes."

Garland, like other members of this administration, has been criticized for a slow or even lack of a proper reaction to crucial matters. This is especially when it comes to Garland having not acted urgently enough when conservative Supreme Court justices faced illegal protests outside of their homes after someone leaked the draft opinion of the Dobbs v. Jackson case last May, showing that the Court looked to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

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