OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A leading Republican says he is demanding that Attorney General Merrick Garland rescind a memo to the Justice Department and FBI instructing both entities to target parents who show up to school board meetings to complain about inappropriate curriculum.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, blasted Garland this week for sending out a memo to the FBI and U.S. attorneys ordering them to be on the lookout for parental behaviors a major school board organization likened to “domestic terrorism.”
Jordan “has fired off letter after letter to DOJ elements over the past couple of weeks, calling on them to hand over details about how they have carried out Garland’s early October directive,” the Washington Examiner reported, adding:
The attorney general revealed last month that the DOJ and the White House communicated about the September [National School Boards Association] letter just before he issued his memo, with the NSBA letter urging the DOJ to look into deploying the Patriot Act. Garland’s memo directed the FBI “to convene meetings” with law enforcement “in each federal judicial district” to help “open dedicated lines of communication” for threat reporting.
“We want the memo rescinded,” Jordan told the outlet. “I think the only appropriate thing, the only fair thing, the only smart thing, the only logical thing, whatever words you want, is for Merrick Garland to say, ‘We are not charging these 94 U.S. attorney districts and the U.S. attorneys to work with law enforcement there to set up these dedicated lines of threat reporting’ — these snitch lines.”
Last week, Jordan sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray signed by him and 18 other Republicans in which they wrote, “This unusual directive is particularly worrisome as it applies to the Federal Bureau of Investigation given the FBI’s illegal spying on the Trump campaign and its scandalous history of misconduct and politicization.”
Previously, Garland told Congress during sworn testimony that “FBI agents will not be attending local school board meetings.”
The Examiner noted further: “While Garland’s memo did not mention the National Security Division, the accompanying press release did, naming it as part of DOJ’s new task force. House Republicans have asked it to provide details. They sent letters to all 93 U.S. attorneys as well.”
“So, rescind that. Stop that. That is so authoritarian, big government — coming down on parents, moms, and dads — it’s just ridiculous and wrong,” Jordan demanded.
In addition, the GOP lawmakers want the NSBA to turn over all of its communications with the White House, alleging the parties were engaged in “collusion” in order to provide cover for the Justice Department to get involved in local school board issues. Previous reports have indicated the organization’s leaders were in touch with the Biden White House about its letter appealing for federal law enforcement assistance before it was published.
“My theory of the case is this was all coordinated from the get-go,” Jordan told the outlet.
“I think that’s worth looking into. I don’t see it as a primary motivation. I think the primary motivation was politics, and it was about chilling the speech, restricting the speech, limiting the speech of moms and dads,” Jordan said.
The Examiner adds:
Internal emails showed NSBA board members objected to sending the letter to Joe Biden, and the school boards group withdrew and apologized for the letter the day after Garland’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in late October. In addition, several state chapters under the NSBA quit in outrage over the letter.
Garland wouldn’t distance himself from his memo during Senate Judiciary Committee testimony last month, arguing that the NSBA’s follow-up apology “does not change the association’s concern about violence and threats of violence.”
Republican senators and congressmen, along with parent groups and various activists, have questioned whether Garland has a conflict of interest because his daughter’s husband, Xan Tanner, co-founded Panorama Education, an education company.
“Now, I do think there’s an obvious potential real connection there that is worthy of exploration, but my gut tells me that the main focus was this was politics. … But yeah, is there the added benefit of helping his family? It sure looks that way, and it probably should be investigated.”