House Republicans called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw his controversial memo involving the FBI in policing school board meetings after the group whose letter prompted the memo withdrew it and apologized for likening parent protesters to “domestic terrorists.”
Garland revealed last week that the Justice Department and White House communicated about the National School Boards Association letter before Garland issued his memo, and new emails from the NSBA itself showed it was in touch with the White House about its letter prior to publishing. Internal emails showed NSBA board members objected to sending the letter to President Joe Biden, and NSBA ended up withdrawing the letter the day after Garland’s testimony.
“The NSBA expressed regret about and formally apologized for its letter to President Biden,” the GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Garland on Monday. “Because the NSBA letter was the basis for your memorandum and given that your memorandum has been and will continue to be read as threatening parents and chilling their protected First Amendment rights, the only responsible course of action is for you to fully and unequivocally withdraw your memorandum immediately.”
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, asked Garland if it was just a coincidence the NSBA sent a letter to Biden and just five days later Garland issued his memo. The Biden attorney general admitted the letter was a “relevant factor” in his memo.
“I am sure that the communication from the National Association of School Boards [sic] was discussed between the White House and the Justice Department, and that’s perfectly appropriate,” Garland said.
DOJ TALKED WITH WHITE HOUSE BEFORE ISSUING SCHOOL PROTEST MEMO
After a national outcry and amid internal pushback, the NSBA backed away from its own letter late Friday.
“On behalf of the NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter. To be clear, the safety of school board members, other public school officials and educators, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue,” the NSBA wrote. “However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. We should have had a better process in place to allow for some consultation on a communication of this significance.”
The attorney general’s memo earlier this month alleged there has been a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school employees and school board members. It said the DOJ will “discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate.”
House Republicans said Monday the DOJ memo was “troubling” and said Garland “acknowledged that you issued the unusual directive soon after reading about the thinly sourced letter” from NSBA “and not because of any specific request from state or local law enforcement.”
While Garland’s memo did not mention the National Security Division, which deals with terrorism and other threats, the accompanying DOJ press release did, naming it as part of the new task force.
Jordan seized on the press release‘s language on Thursday to ask why the specialized DOJ arm would play a role in policing parents, but Garland insisted that “my memo does not mention the National Security Division” even though the DOJ press release did.
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Critics have also questioned whether Garland has a conflict of interest related to this issue due to his familial connections to a left-wing education company called Panorama Education, co-founded by his son-in-law.
Garland repeatedly refused on Thursday to say whether he had undergone an ethics review or whether he would in the future.
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy
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