The congressional select subcommittee tasked with investigating the alleged weaponization of government released a report Tuesday that revealed the Justice Department appeared to have little justification for targeting parents at school board meetings in 2021.
Subcommittee staff, in conjunction with Judiciary Committee staff, compiled the report based on findings from recently subpoenaed documents from the Justice Department, FBI, and Education Department.
“The subpoenaed documents show there was no legitimate nationwide basis for the Attorney General’s directive to insert federal law enforcement into local school board matters,” the report stated. “In fact, almost universally, local law enforcement rejected the directive and expressed strong preference that local authorities handle local matters.”
Read the full report below:
#NEW: A “MANUFACTURED” ISSUE AND “MISAPPLIED” PRIORITIES: SUBPOENAED DOCUMENTS SHOW NO LEGITIMATE BASIS FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S ANTI-PARENT MEMO
Read our newest report on Merrick Garland’s war on parental rights ⤵️https://t.co/DMM5LzVM1T
— Weaponization Committee (@Weaponization) March 21, 2023
The report centers largely around a directive Attorney General Merrick Garland issued to the FBI in October 2021 on account of a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school administrators.
The directive came at a time when education was dominating the national narrative and when now-Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) was in the heat of a tight gubernatorial contest in the blue-leaning state of Virginia, which had become a hot bed for school-related issues.
Parents, Youngkin contended, were fed up with school administrators implementing draconian coronavirus policies, infusing critical race theory into curricula, and forcing transgender ideology on young students. Education issues were central to Youngkin’s underdog campaign in its final weeks, and the Virginia Republican ended up narrowly winning, thanks in part to Northern Virginia swing voters.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), then-ranking member of Judiciary, contacted Garland with questions and requests related to his FBI directive when the attorney general first sent it in 2021.
Since then, Jordan has aggressively pursued the issue, sending dozens of follow-up request letters to Garland and others and vetting FBI whistleblowers who have come to him with corroborating stories.
Democrats have been consistent in dismissing the issue as a conspiratorial concern, but Jordan nevertheless escalated it by subpoenaing Garland for relevant documents when he became chairman, a fact Breitbart News exclusively reported last month.
“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 stated.
The report detailed correspondence between various U.S. attorneys’ offices and the Justice Department’s main office that ultimately showed that the “overwhelming majority of judicial districts” had seen no instances of threats and violence against school administrators.
It noted that of about two dozen cases that the FBI opened on parents — a handful of which were investigated through the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division — none resulted in federal charges.
“The Administration’s goal seems to have been silencing the critics of its radical education policies and neutralizing an issue that was threatening Democrat Party prospects in the close gubernatorial race in Virginia,” the report stated.
At issue, too, has been the question of what underlying evidence prompted Garland to issue the directive.
Garland acknowledged during a hearing before Judiciary that he had sent the directive just after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the White House, which the NSBA later retracted, that had asked the White House to investigate visibly outraged parents who were attending school board meetings as possible “domestic terrorists.”
Jordan tore into Garland during the hearing about what data, besides the now-retracted NSBA letter, Garland had been relying on to justify mobilizing the FBI, and the attorney general did not provide a substantive response:
Biden AG Merrick Garland concedes that he started targeting parents for "possible domestic terrorism" because the NSBA sent a letter. pic.twitter.com/ZDvhZ6vDzO
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) October 21, 2021
“If the Justice Department performed any due diligence prior to the issuance of the Attorney General’s memorandum, it would have understood clearly and forcefully that federal intervention was unwarranted,” the report stated, accusing the Biden administration of acting “out of political motivations rather than for law-enforcement reasons.”
The report also examined various relevant communications that federal officials provided to Congress in response to subpoenas. It revealed correspondence about handling perceived threats to school administrators had occurred among the White House, the Education Department, the NSBA, the Justice Department, and a “left-leaning” school administrator group in the days and weeks leading up to Garland sending out his FBI directive.
“Internal Executive Branch communications show that the Biden Administration and NSBA extensively colluded prior to the Attorney General’s memorandum,” the report concluded.
The weaponization subcommittee was established this Congress to seek out alleged civil rights violations by executive branch agencies and was given far-reaching authority and an enormous budget to carry out its task.
In that vein, Jordan has long accused the Justice Department of using the NSBA letter as a “pretext” for siccing federal law enforcement on certain parents attending school board meetings, contending the move has served to “chill” parents’ First Amendment rights.
The report released Tuesday is labeled as an “interim report” that does “not tell the whole story.”
It stated that the Judiciary Committee and weaponization subcommittee plan to “continue to pursue the relevant facts to inform legislative reforms to protect American civil liberties.”