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Attorney General Merrick Garland — who was heavily criticized by Republican lawmakers due to an infamous DOJ memo asking the FBI to investigate threats to school board officials — is again inside the eye of the storm after a group of GOP lawmakers announced they have obtained documents that allegedly confirm the FBI was using “counterterrorism tools” when surveilling the potential threats outlined in the memo, contradicting a previous testimony Garland gave to Congress.
The October 4th memo was issued a few days after the National School Board Association demanded that Biden take actions on alleged threats against school boards, teachers across the nation.
Most controversially, the NSBA letter compared the threats to domestic terrorism and hate crimes and asked the FBI to review these threats under the PATRIOT Act, which was signed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as a way to prevent terrorist attacks. After Republican lawmakers raised concerns over the way the FBI was handling the issue and with many state school board associations leaving the NSBA, the board of directors regretted and apologized for the letter on October 22.
Republicans cast doubts on Merrick Garland’s testimony after whistleblower document
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, released the leaked documents, showing that the FBI’s counterterrorism and criminal division had created a new “tag” to address any threats against members of school boards.
Republican lawmakers have cited these documents as proof that Mr. Garland lied under oath when he testified before Congress on October 21st. In this hearing, Garland said to lawmakers that he didn’t think that “parents getting angry at school boards for whatever reason constitute domestic terrorism” and that he could not imagine any occasion in which the Patriot Act would be used against parents.
Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) said that Garland “perjured himself” and “must face the consequences.” Similarly, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said that it is “vital” for Garland to return to Congress and answer more questions.
Freedom Works President Adam Brandon demanded the resignation of AG Garland, saying that these documents suggest the DOJ “ordered the FBI to spy on concerned American citizens.” Brandon also called for the GOP to investigate Garland’s “gross abuse of power.”
The controversy around the DOJ memo comes at a time when education has become the new central battleground in the cultural war that is dominating American politics.
The historic victory of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia came after the GOP emphasized the issue of education and the role parents should play in the education of their kids. With education becoming an extremely important issue in the political world, the latest developments of the Garland memorandum will surely have the attention of conservative politicians in Washington D.C. and across the country.
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.