The Republican-led Committee on the Judiciary and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government issued an interim report Tuesday on the Department of Justice’s aggressive actions and investigations into parents who dared to voice concerns about local school boards.
The committee made no bones about its conclusions, headlining the document in hold and all caps:
A “‘MANUFACTURED” ISSUE AND “MISAPPLIED” PRIORITIES: SUBPOENAED DOCUMENTS SHOW NO LEGITIMATE BASIS FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S ANTI-PARENT MEMO
#BREAKING: Relying on subpoenaed documents, @Weaponization Committee releases damning report on Merrick Garland’s anti-parent school board memo.
Read it here: https://t.co/Jay3d8skfZ
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) March 21, 2023
The committee began its investigation in October 2021 after members learned of the issuance “of a memorandum from Attorney General Merrick Garland directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and all U.S. Attorney’s Offices—among other Department components—to examine and address threats posed by parents at school board meetings.”
The FBI went on to routinely investigate parents who criticized school boards, including a father for simply opposing mask mandates and a mom deemed a threat for “owning guns” and belonging to a conservative parent group called “Moms for Liberty.”
Throughout the report, the committee describes the stonewalling and lack of response from Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Biden Administration. Nevertheless, members were able to glean enough information from whistleblowers, subpoenaed documents, and a report commissioned by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) which labeled parents as “domestic terrorists” to write the interim account:
From the initial set of material produced in response to the subpoenas, it is apparent that the Biden Administration misused federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources for political purposes. The Justice Department’s own documents demonstrate that there was no compelling nationwide law-enforcement justification for the Attorney General’s directive or the Department components’ execution thereof.
The document then describes how regional FBI offices and local law enforcement often were not pleased with the DOJ’s interference and thought the entire effort was “misapplied.” In one instance the Southern District of Alabama reported to DOJ headquarters about a shooting at a school board member’s house—although the shooting had nothing to do with the school board and was the result of random gun violence.
Per @Weaponization: “FBI acknowledged for the first time that it opened 25 ‘Guardian assessments’ of school board threats, and that six of these investigations were run by the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.” They treated concerned parents like terrorists https://t.co/GYpmJxETRr
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) March 22, 2023
So if there were few real threats from parents to local school boards, why did the FBI respond in this ham-handed fashion? The committee concludes that it was all political:
It appears, from these documents and the information received previously, that the Administration’s actions were a political offensive meant to quell swelling discord over controversial education curricula and unpopular school board decisions. [Emphasis mine.]
They even imply—but don’t come right out and say it—that the DOJ’s overreach could have been an attempt to influence an important election:
The Attorney General’s directive came just weeks before a pivotal gubernatorial election in Virginia, in which education policies were hotly debated and a local school board’s actions were under intense scrutiny. The inference from the initial tranche of subpoenaed documents is that the Justice Department’s actions were a reaction to these political circumstances rather than a legitimate law-enforcement response to any serious, nationwide threat.
The report rips the Justice Department in its final paragraph:
The use of these resources chills protected First Amendment activity as parents rightfully fear that their passionate advocacy for their children could result in a visit from federal law enforcement.
It’s a powerful report, though much of what is described was already known. The problem with reports like this is that we read them and think, “Oh my God! These people should be arrested!” But then nothing happens. Merrick Garland certainly isn’t going to read it, and Joe Biden’s handlers could give a rip, so life goes on.
Nevertheless, I applaud the Republicans for at least exposing the DOJ’s and the FBI’s malfeasance. If people get mad enough and wake up to what’s really going on in this country—the complete weaponization of our justice system—perhaps change will eventually come.
Using federal law enforcement to harass parents at school board meetings was one of the worst scandals of the Biden Admin.
This report is a good start toward accountability. https://t.co/NwGGuco6Io
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 22, 2023
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