“General Garland, you have weaponized the FBI and the Department of Justice. Your U.S. attorneys are now collecting and cataloging all the ways that they might prosecute parents … because they want to be involved in their children’s education.”
That’s how Sen. Josh Hawley challenged Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday as Garland testified before a Senate committee regarding the Justice Department’s interest in parents protesting against school boards.
“It’s wrong,” Hawley said. “It is unprecedented, to my knowledge, in the history of this country, and I call on you to resign.”
There may be headaches around the country today for the people who repeatedly facepalmed during Garland’s testimony.
Hawley zeroed in on Garland in front of a large photograph of police arresting Scott Smith, the angry father whose daughter was sexually assaulted in a school restroom in Loudoun County, Virginia.
The Republican senator grilled Garland on a letter from the U.S. attorney for Montana that he said called for the prosecution of parents speaking out against school boards.
The letter followed an Oct. 4 memo from Garland calling upon federal law enforcement officials to develop plans to respond to “threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” That memo had come days after the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Joe Biden comparing school board protesters to domestic terrorists.
“Now, you testified last week before the House that you didn’t know anything about [the Smith] case,” Hawley said.
“I find that extraordinary because the [NSBA] letter that you put so much weight on — the letter that’s now been retracted — it cites this case. … There’s a news article cited in the letter. It’s discussed in the letter, but you testified you just couldn’t remember it.”
Do you think Garland should resign?
Hawley had Garland backed into a corner. Either he hadn’t done his due diligence before signing off on the Oct. 4 memo, or he had lied to Congress about being unaware of the Loudoun County incident.
“Maybe this will refresh your memory,” Hawley continued. “Do you think people like Scott Smith — do you think parents who show up to complain about their children being assaulted ought to be treated like this man right here?” Hawley asked, pointing to the picture of Smith being pinned to the floor by police.
Garland countered by saying that parents who show up at school board meetings are protected by the First Amendment.
“Do you think that they ought to be prosecuted in the different ways that your U.S. attorneys are identifying?” Hawley shot back.
Garland answered, “If what they’re doing is complaining about what the school board is doing — policies, curriculum, anything else that they want to — as long as they’re not committing threats of violence, then they should not be prosecuted, and they can’t be.”
But Hawley said some of his Democratic colleagues at the hearing had repeatedly compared parents protesting at school board meetings to “criminal rioters,” a charge Garland denied.
“Oh, really?” Hawley replied, picking up a piece of paper and apparently reading a quote from it. “‘These people are just like the folks who came here on Jan. 6 and [were involved in] the riot at the Capitol’?”
Garland, perhaps suddenly recalling comments by Democrats, replied, “I don’t think that they were referring to the picture that you’re showing there”
“Well, I certainly would hope not. They were referring to parents who go to school board meetings. Mr. Smith is a parent who went to a school board meeting.
“I’ll leave it at this. General Garland, you have weaponized the FBI and the Department of Justice. Your U.S. attorneys are now collecting and cataloging all the ways that they might prosecute parents like Mr. Smith because they want to be involved in their children’s education and they want to have a say in their elected officials.
“It’s wrong. It is unprecedented, to my knowledge, in the history of this country, and I call on you to resign.”
Despite challenges from Hawley and other Republicans, Garland said Wednesday that he will continue to mobilize federal officials against threats to school boards, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“True threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. Those are the things we are worried about here. Those are the only things we are worried about here,” Garland said.
“We are not investigating peaceful protests or parent involvement in school board meetings. There is no precedent for doing that and we would never do that. We are only concerned about violence and threats of violence against school administrators, teachers, staff.”
Of course, violence is increasingly becoming whatever leftists say it is (as in the “silence is violence” line from Black Lives Matter).
Hawley is right — Garland should resign.
And here’s a suggestion: Think about sending the video of Hawley grilling Garland to your representative or senator as a primer on what many of us expect of those representing us in Congress.
Thank you, Sen. Hawley.