Republican senators grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland in a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Wednesday for authorizing the Department of Justice to target parents, even after the National School Boards Association walked back the inflammatory language contained in its letter demanding that the Biden administration and federal law enforcement intervene against parents concerned about their children’s education.
In a House Judiciary hearing last week, Garland admitted that the basis for targeting and potentially charging parents concerned about what their children are learning in schools with domestic terrorism was the official letter from the NSBA, not real evidence.
Here are the top four moments from Wednesday’s hearing that make Garland’s role in authorizing the DOJ to investigate parents for alleged violence and terrorism even clearer.
1. Garland Say He’ll Keep Targeting Parents Even After School Board Group Apologized For Its Bogus ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Claims
At the beginning of the hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley pressed Garland to answer whether he would rescind his memorandum directing the FBI and state attorneys to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools” following a letter from the NSBA. The NSBA released a statement last week expressing “regret” for sending the letter and even admitted that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter” but Garland did not budge.
“Your memo mentions that the National Security Division will get involved in school board investigations. Is the Justice Department National Security Division really necessary for keeping local school boards safe if parents aren’t domestic terrorists?” Grassley asked. “Why is the National Security Division involved at all? This kind of looks like something that would come out of some communist country.”
Garland claimed the memo he publicized is focused on “violence and threats of violence” but did not commit to rescinding the memo nor disavowing the involvement of federal law enforcement in local issues.
Earlier in the hearing, Grassley accused Garland of moving the DOJ “as far left as it can go” and targeting “parents [who] are trying to protect their children.” The Republican also criticized the DOJ for refusing to answer GOP members’ letters, questions, and demands even though Garland previously promised to be transparent in his confirmation hearing.
2. Sen. Tom Cotton Calls For Garland To Resign
During his allotted time, Sen. Tom Cotton told Garland that he should “resign in disgrace” after using the NSBA letter to justify authorizing the Department of Justice to take action against frustrated parents.
“This is shameful. This testimony, your directive, your performance is shameful,” the Arkansas Republican said at the end of his questioning. “Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace, Judge.”
Here is the full exchange between Sen. Tom Cotton and AG Merrick Garland that ends with Cotton saying:
"Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace, Judge." pic.twitter.com/1JRTI72DqC
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) October 27, 2021
Cotton also asked if Garland had begun an investigation into the harassment Sen. Kyrsten Sinema faced in a bathroom at Arizona State University over her reluctance to pass President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan.
“Even though parents at school boards aren’t within federal jurisdiction, there’s no doubt that federal officials are. You keep saying senators. Have you started an investigation into the harassment of Senator Kyrsten Sinema in a bathroom? In a bathroom, because she won’t go along with the Democratic Party’s big tax-and-spend agenda? That is a sitting United States Senator being harassed in a bathroom,” Cotton said.
“I don’t know whether the Senator has referred the matter to the Justice Department or not,” Garland said.
Not only did Merrick Garland use the FBI and the *National Security Division* of the Department of Justice to intimidate concerned parents.
He did it based on a lie from the National School Boards Association.
He should resign.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 27, 2021
3. Sen. Josh Hawley Grills Garland Before Calling For His Resignation
Sen. Josh Hawley also called on Garland to resign but not before grilling him on the various actions state attorneys have taken to target parents following the attorney general’s memo legitimizing the NSBA’s concerns, even though most of the examples listed did not escalate to even yielding arrests or charges at the local level.
“I’ve never seen that memo,” Garland said, referring to a letter Hawley held up from the U.S. attorney for Montana listing 13 federal crimes for which parents could be prosecuted.
“That’s what concerns me, [Attorney] General Garland,” Hawley said.
“Well, it wasn’t sent to me. I hope you will assure your constituents that what we are concerned about here is violence and threats of violence,” Garland continued.
“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 said.
Hawley also accused Garland of having “weaponized the FBI and the DOJ” to accomplish political goals.
“It’s wrong, it is unprecedented to my knowledge in the history of this country, and I call on you to resign,” Hawley concluded.
Sen. Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) to AG Merrick Garland at Wednesday's hearing: "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." pic.twitter.com/y1r8oIbOPs
— Newsmax (@newsmax) October 27, 2021
4. Sen. Ted Cruz Pressures Garland To Answer For Ties To CRT-Obsessed Education Firm
Sen. Ted Cruz pressured Garland to answer questions about his son-in-law Xan Tanner who founded Panorama Education, a firm that markets teaching materials “focused on systemic racism, oppression, white supremacy, and intersectionality, all under the rubric of ‘Social-Emotional Learning'” to educators funded by the government.
When Cruz asked Garland to clarify if he “sought an ethics opinion” on the matter, the attorney general refused to answer yes or no.
Sen. Ted Cruz: "If Critical Race Theory is taught in more schools does your son-in-law make more money, yes or no?"
Merrick Garland: "This memorandum has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory or…"
Sen. Ted Cruz: "Will you answer if you sought an ethics opinion?" pic.twitter.com/fQM5gkonSX
— The Hill (@thehill) October 27, 2021