Rep. Mike Johnson: Let’s review the well-documented facts. Last September the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Biden Administration coordinated to send a letter requesting to treat parents at school board meetings as domestic terrorist. Yes, that is right, it’s documented, and it’s a fact. The Biden Administration thinks concerned parents who expressed frustration with radical policies governing their children’s education somehow warrant counterterrorism resources. The NSBA and Biden Administration letter infamously urge the government to use federal law enforcement to target concerned parents local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity. One of the parents the NSBA sighted in its letter is Scott Smith, who we’ve heard about today already. His only crime, so-called, was demanding that Virginia school board officials accept responsibility for the fact that his daughter was sexually assaulted in a school bathroom.
New information from the NSBA shows that justice department employees coordinated with the White House directly, well in advance of sending that letter, and they likely knew and raised no concerns that the letter would urge the use of the Patriot Act to target parents. As reminder the Patriot Act, of course, we all know, was enacted after 9/11 to investigate and punish terrorists. Just five days after the NSBA letter Attorney General Garland issued a memorandum and he directed the FBI and other justice department components to address a supposed “disturbing spike and harassment intimidation and threats of violence” at school board meetings. Of course, that disturbing spike was never backed up with any evidence at all. Thanks to whistleblowers we now know that the FBI quickly operationalize counterterrorism tools against moms and dads.
On October 20th 2021 the FBI’s counterterrorism and criminal divisions created an EDU officials threat tag, that was the threat tag. It would be applied to all school board related investigations. Two days later the NSBA issued a formal apology for its letter disavowing its characterization of concerned parents as villains, and withdrawing the request for counterterrorism resources. They were exposed so they hung Merrick Garland out to dry. And to this day Attorney General Garland has yet to resend the memorandum. Given that the underlying basis for his order has been rescinded, we all have been wondering here why hasn’t the order itself.
Parents voicing their concerns at school board meetings are not domestic terrorist. That’s why we have the placards here. We have to remind our Democrat colleagues of the obvious. Given the Biden-Garland and DOJ’s track record of inviting news cameras along to kick in the door as their political opponents, you can bet that if there was a single parent in this country who who pose any real threat to any single School Board member we would all know about, It it would be constantly broadcast on CNN and MSNBC in the rest. So, let’s be clear, the request for counterterrorism resources has now been withdrawn and there is no evidence that parents pose any particular threat to any public officials, and yet Judiciary Committee Republicans have repeatedly called on Attorney General Garland to resend his memo and we sent over 100 letters now requesting information and documents regarding the investigation and the use of that threat tactic. Today, all we have received from the Justice Department and the FBI are half page response letters and exactly zero requested documents or subsitive information.
It is simply unacceptable for the Biden Administration to continue using Federal domestic terrorism resources to target American parents. Use of these resources chills protected First Amendment activity as these parents now rightfully fear that their advocacy for their children could result in a visit from federal law enforcement. I urge my colleagues to join me in asking for these documents so we can finally get to the bottom of this administration’s utter disregard for the rule of law. I remind my colleagues again this is clearly within the jurisdiction and very important responsibilities of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Congress. This is our role. I yield to the ranking member.
Rep. Jim Jordan: Thank the gentleman, well said, and he raises a critical point. There’s a fundamental question here. In all these meetings going on between the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department and the School Boards Association before they sent the initial letter that prompted this, in all those meetings, did the White House suggest or encourage that the Patriot Act domestic terrorism language be included in the initial letter? Did the Justice Department suggest or encourage that. Or, if they got an advance copy, did they object to it? Did they raise concerns? Those are pretty fundamental questions I think a lot of people would, I think the American public would like the answers to. What was really going on? Who made the decision to put that in? Was it suggested by the White House and the Justice Department, Homeland Security, to put that language in the letter, the letter that’s now been rescinded? Those are important questions that we’d like the answers to.