Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, has said that his goal in sending repeated letters to the Justice Department, demanding documents concerning Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo last month to the FBI and U.S. prosecutors to consider potentially investigating local school board protests, is to have the memo rescinded, the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter in September to President Joe Biden requesting "federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation" against education officials at local school board meetings. The letter further stated that "as these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."
The NSBA later disavowed the request, writing that "we regret and apologize for the letter sent September 29," adding that "to be clear, the safety of school board members, other public school officials, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue. However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter."
Last month Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee launched a probe into the matter, with a Jordan-led letter stating that "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."
"We want the memo rescinded," Jordan told the Washington Examiner, stating that the only logical thing is for "Merrick Garland to say, ‘We are not charging these 94 U.S. attorney districts and the U.S. attorneys to work with law enforcement there to set up these dedicated lines of threat reporting,’ these snitch lines … That is so authoritarian, big government — coming down on parents, moms, and dads — it’s just ridiculous and wrong."
Republicans also demanded that the NSBA reveal its communications with the White House on the issue, accusing the parties of collusion to create a situation in which the DOJ would involve itself in local school controversies. NSBA emails showed its leadership was in contact with the White House about its letter prior to sending it.
Garland continues to defend his memo, stating in a Senate Judiciary Committee testimony last month that NSBA’s apology and rescinding of the letter "does not change the association’s concern about violence and threats of violence," according to the Washington Examiner.
Republican congressmen and other critics have also raised the concern that Garland has a conflict of interest, because his son-in-law is a co-founder of education company Panorama Education, an issue he dodged in his Senate testimony.
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