RALEIGH — Several of North Carolina’s U.S. House Republicans have signed onto letters demanding answers from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland following Garland directing the FBI to investigate school-board protests around the country.
On Oct. 4, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum directing the FBI to investigate “threats” to school boards and education personnel in every state.
The USDOJ press statement announcing Garland’s memorandum says a task force will be set up to provide training and look into “criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.”
The USDOJ statement says the training “will help school board members and other potential victims understand the type of behavior that constitutes threats, how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and how to capture and preserve evidence of threatening conduct to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.”
No other details were included on what the guidance or training will entail.
In the days following his memo, Garland has drawn fire for having a conflict of interest when it was revealed his daughter is married to the co-founder of Panorama, a company that sells “Social and Emotional Learning” and Critical Race Theory materials.
On Oct. 7, North Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (NC-09), along with around 30 other House Republicans, issued a letter to Garland and the DOJ requesting more information both on the training and the alleged threats referred to by Garland. Joining Bishop are U.S. Reps. Richard Hudson (NC-08), Ted Budd (NC-13) and Greg Murphy (NC-03).
“Your memorandum furnishes no detail of any occurrences that justifying directing federal law enforcement to coordinate nationwide opposition to this political movement,” the House Republicans letter reads, which also notes that “no such support” was found in the Sept. 29 letter from the NSBA to the Biden administration.
The House Republicans criticized the NSBA’s letter, stating that “To be sure, the NSBA spewed overwrought claims of ‘threats and acts of violence against our public school officials’ and ‘heinous acts [that] could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.’ But the roughly 20 newspaper reports referenced by the NSBA do not come close to substantiating those characterizations.”
The letter from House Republicans drew a comparison between Garland’s actions to that of totalitarian government like Communist China and Russia.
The letter from Bishop and other House Republicans lists five requests for information including copies of any communication on the matter between Garland and the Department of Justice or with the NSBA, teachers unions and the Biden administration.
Also asked for are documentation of “all occurrences predicating your assertions in the memo” related to alleged threats or violence.
The final request by House Republicans is 10 days advance warning of any meeting the FBI will have with state officials as detailed in Garland’s memorandum. Access to those meetings, a list of attendees, all correspondence and all materials to be shared at the meetings was also requested by House Republicans.
USDOJ officials, including Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke who heads up the Civil Rights division, defended Garland’s memorandum during separate hearings held last week.
Clarke was confirmed by a vote of 51-48 and was considered controversial due to a history of partisan tweets, vocal opposition to voter ID, her opposition testimony to Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court and her support for Jussie Smollett’s race hoax.
When questioned, Clarke said she does not believe parents protesting school boards are domestic terrorists. She also refused to condemn the Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests that turned into violent riots last year when asked about it by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“Do you believe the Black Lives Matter protesters who burned shops, who firebombed police cars, who murdered police officers, do you think they are domestic terrorists?” Cruz asked.
“Senator, I believe we live in a society where people espouse different views,” Clarke responded.
“It’s amazing. You are not going to condemn people who are murdering police officers and firebombing police cities, because your politics align with them,” Cruz shot back. “But at the same time, when it comes to parents at school boards, you are perfectly comfortable with calling a mom at a PTA meeting a domestic terrorist.”
Clarke also said she could not talk about whether or not she participated in creation of the Garland memorandum.