The Corner

Politics & Policy

Republican Senators Demand Answers from Garland on Public-Schools Memo

Attorney general Merrick Garland attends a meeting in Chicago, Ill. July 23, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Reuters)

Several Republican senators have written to Attorney General Merrick Garland, demanding that he elucidate the sources for his October 4 memo, which condemned alleged harassment from parents in public schools and directed the FBI to address supposed threats.

Garland issued the memo earlier this month in response to a letter from the National School Board Association to the White House. The NSBA letter requested federal intervention and argued that parents protesting COVID restrictions and critical race theory in public schools “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

Since then, it has become public that the NSBA coordinated with the White House about the content of the letter while drafting it. Despite the fact that the NSBA has apologized for the letter and a number of state school-board groups have left the organization in response, Garland refuses to retract his memo or dissolve the task force.

“In recent months, there has been 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,” Garland asserted in the October 4 memo.

Garland’s memo also directed the the FBI and U.S. attorneys to meet with “federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district” to develop strategies “for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Republicans grilled Garland on the reasons behind his memo and task force, and Garland insisted that the NSBA letter was not the only predicate for DOJ action.

In this follow-up letter, eight Republicans on the Judiciary Committee demand that the attorney general deliver on his pledge to “providing the relevant data” behind his decision-making on the memo.

“Pursuant to this commitment,” the letter continues, “please provide all evidence you personally used or relied on between Wednesday, September 29, 2021, and Monday, October 4, 2021 — other than the content of the NSBA letter dated Wednesday, September 29 — that formed the basis for the memo issued by the DOJ dated Monday, October 4th.”

The letter gives Garland a deadline of November 1. “Because you were able to distill your evidence and craft a memo that fixed the gaze of the FBI directly on concerned parents across this country in just four days, you should be able to share that evidence with us in the same period of time,” the letter concludes.

The letter is signed by eight of the eleven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee: Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Lee of Utah, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

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