House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) has fired off his first subpoenas of the new Congressional session.
The recipients include Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in order to get to the bottom of a controversial memo which the DOJ used to justify activating the FBI Counterterrorism Division to investigate parents voicing their opposition to a variety of topics – primarily mask and vaccine mandates, and teaching critical race theory.
The Garland memo
On October 4 of 2021, AG Merrick Garland issued a memorandum announcing a concentrated effort to target any threats of violence, intimidation, and harassment by parents toward school personnel.
The announcement came came days after the national association of school boards asked the Biden administration to take “extraordinary measures” to prevent alleged threats against school staff that the association said was coming from parents who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory.
In late October, however, it was revealed that Garland based the memo on unsupported claims made by the National School Boards Association, which apologized for inflammatory language. Garland maintains that the letter had no bearing on the DOJ’s stance.
The subpoenas ask for all communications between the recipients and the National School Boards Association.
Jordan, who has repeatedly claimed that the memo was used to justify labeling concerned parents as domestic terrorists, told NBC‘s “Meet The Press” recently that “the chilling impact on the First Amendment free speech is what we care about.”
“School board writes a letter on Sept. 29th. Five days later, the Attorney General of the United States issues a memorandum to 101 U.S. attorneys offices around the country saying, ‘Set up this line that they can report on.’ … When have you ever seen the federal government move that fast?” he asked.
Democrats, meanwhile, have accused Jordan of peddling conspiracy theories.
“The conspiracy theories underpinning today’s subpoenas have been debunked with facts time and time again, but Republicans do not want to be bothered by this inconvenient truth. There is no amount of documents that will satisfy the MAGA obsession with conspiracies,” according to Del. Stacey Plaskett (VI), the top Democrat on the Judiciary subcommittee tasked with examining the “weaponization” of the federal government.
A ‘protected disclosure’:
In mid-November, 2021, House Judiciary Committee Republicans sent a letter to Garland after an FBI whistleblower came forward with “a protected disclosure” – claiming that “the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division had been compiling and categorizing threat assessments related to parents, including a document directing FBI personnel to use a specific “threat tag” to track potential investigations.”
“This 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 letter continues.
This is the smoking gun. Attorney General Garland provided zero evidence that parents are engaging in credible threats or acts of violence. And yet, he mobilized the FBI Counterterrorism Division to use counterterrorism tools for investigating, tracking, and tagging parents. pic.twitter.com/PHpVIqvlBw
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 16, 2021
According to a public statement by Grassley regarding the one-page letter:
“The Department of Justice owes the American people a better answer than just a one-page letter that says nothing about why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division is involved in local school-board matters. Now more than ever, parents should be their kids’ strongest and best advocates. They have the God-given right to do so. And the Justice Department ought to be doing everything it can to protect that right, not scare them out of exercising that right. Attorney General Garland should withdraw his memo. And he should take Congress’s oversight, and concern for the rights of parents, more seriously.”