The nation’s top law enforcement official defended a memo on Wednesday responding to threats aimed at local school officials, pushing back at criticism from Republicans who suggested it was an overreach targeting conservative activists.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland portrayed the memo as a commonsense response to increasing acrimony at the meetings.
“All it asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, strategize about what may or may not be necessary to provide federal assistance,” Garland said, responding to a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Garland insisted the memo was not intended to take political sides or squelch debate at school board meetings.
“The only thing that Justice Department is concerned about is violence and threats of violence,” Garland said.
The memo was crafted in response to reports of increasing vitriol at school board meetings around COVID-19 mask mandates, vaccination requirements and Republican anger at efforts to teach kids about racism in America.
Garland said activists are increasingly using threats of physical violence against election officials, local elected officials and school board members, especially since former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Republicans have sought to make the memo a big issue, claiming the FBI is seeking to “silence parents.”
Democrats defend the memo, with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., saying “those who argue that school board meetings are not more dangerous and more violent than in the past are ignoring reality.”
———Internet Explorer Channel Network