Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding Attorney General Merrick Garland produce the evidence he relied on to craft his Oct. 4 school board memo.
In a letter sent Wednesday, eight GOP senators called on Mr. Garland to provide all evidence used to design his directive for federal officials to work with law enforcement to address what the memo called a “disturbing spike” in threats against school board members and other education staff.
Mr. Garland says the Oct. 4 memo was prompted by both news reports and a Sept. 29 letter from the National School Boards Association to President Biden asking if the federal government could examine “enforceable actions” under federal laws, including the Patriot Act, to address the increasing threats and violence, which it said could be “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” The NSBA apologized for the letter last week.
The lawmakers asked that the attorney general provide the evidence by Monday.
“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,” they wrote.
The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Lee of Utah, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Their request came shortly after Wednesday’s committee oversight hearing, during which they repeatedly grilled Mr. Garland about the memo. They argue the memo is an attempt to impinge on parents’ free speech rights and that the threats should be handled by local law enforcement, not the federal government.
During the hearing, Mr. Garland was asked if he would rescind the memo since the association had apologized for its letter and said that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”
The attorney general, however, refused to budge and said, “The language in the letter that they disavow is language that was never included in my memo and never would have been.”
“I did not adopt every concern that they had in their letter,” he said. “I adopted only the concern about violence and threats of violence and that hasn’t changed.”
Also on Wednesday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee launched an investigation into alleged “collusion” between the Biden administration and the NSBA before the memo was released.
“We are investigating the troubling attempts by the Department of Justice and the White House to use the heavy hand of federal law enforcement to target concerned parents at local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity,” said the 19 House Judiciary Republicans in the letter obtained by The Washington Times.
The Times sent a request for comment Thursday to the Justice Department.
• Valerie Richardson contributed to this story.
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