House Republicans say they have obtained whistleblower documents that show the FBI used its counterterrorism division to investigate and place “threat tags” on parents who confront school boards, contradicting the sworn testimony of Attorney General Merrick Garland.
A letter sent Tuesday from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to Garland noted the attorney general’s Oct. 21 testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in which he claimed the FBI was not using federal counterterrorism tools to target concerned parents, reported Christopher Rufo on Twitter.
“Like you, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorists,” Garland told the House panel last month.
Rufo, with his extensive research of school curricula, has been the catalyst for the grassroots movement of “mama and papa bears” protesting the implementation of Critical Race Theory principles in K-12 education following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
Jordan on Tuesday also reminded Garland he testified he didn’t think “parents getting angry at school boards for whatever reason constitute(s) domestic terrorism. It’s not even a close question.”
But now, he wrote, they have received a disclosure from a Justice Department whistleblower “calling into question the accuracy and completeness of your testimony.”
The whistleblower provided an FBI email dated Oct. 20 — the day before Garland’s testimony — sent “on behalf of” the bureau’s assistant director for the Counterterrorism division and the assistant director for the Criminal Division.
The email referenced Garland’s Oct. 4 directive to the FBI, the lawmakers wrote, to address school board threats and notify FBI personnel of a new “threat tag” created by the Counterterrorism and Criminal Divisions.
The email directed FBI personnel to apply the new threat tag to all “investigations and assessments of threats specifically directed against school board administrators, board members, teachers and staff.”
The purpose, the email said, was to “scope this threat on a national level and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with the law enforcement partners at all levels.”
Jordan said the disclosure “provides specific evidence that federal law enforcement operationalized counterterrorism tools at the behest of a left-wing special interest group against concerned parents.”
The “left-wing” group is the National School Boards Association, which, the White House has acknowledged, coordinated with the White House prior to sending a Sept. 29 letter to President Biden labeling parents as “domestic terrorists” and urging the Justice Department to use federal tools, including the Patriot Act, to target parents.
Jordan noted to Garland that just five days later, he issued a memo directing the FBI and other departmental components to address a purported “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” at school board meetings.
However, shortly before Garland’s Oct. 4 testimony, the NSBA issued a follow-up letter saying they “regret and apologize” for the Sept. 29 letter calling parents “domestic terrorists” and “there was no justification for some of the language” that was used.
BREAKING: House Republicans have obtained whistleblower documents showing that the FBI is using its counterterrorism division to investigate and add “threat tags” to parents—contradicting Attorney General Garland’s sworn testimony.
Merrick Garland must resign. pic.twitter.com/2T4sjSU9sf
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 16, 2021
At the Oct. 4 hearing, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee’s ranking member, asked Garland if he would not “revoke” his “extremely divisive memo,” since it was prompted by a letter which had been withdrawn.
Garland, as he did throughout the hearing, defended his memo, insisting it was a response “to concerns about violence, threats of violence, other criminal conduct.”
However, the AG admitted in questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that he didn’t conduct any independent research to back his claim in the memo that in “recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” Cruz said he found that 15 of the 20 incidents cited by the NSBA as evidence of a “spike” were non-violent, including a man who used a Nazi salute to emphasize his contention that a school board’s policies were oppressive. Garland affirmed that the man’s salute was protected by the First Amendment.
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