AG Merrick Garland appears before Senate Judiciary Committee



Attorney General Merrick Garland is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to face questions about the politicization of the Justice Department amid several controversies — including his memo ordering the FBI to investigate parents protesting school boards and probes into Hunter Biden.

Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Committee, slammed the administration for moving the Department of Justice “as far left as it can go,” accusing President Biden and Garland of politicizing the department.

“President Biden has politicized and inserted himself into the department policymaking notably directing the end of compulsory process for reporter records in criminal leak investigations, and most recently, inserting himself when he said the department should prosecute anyone who defies compulsory process from the January 6 committee,” Grassley said, referring to comments made by the president almost two weeks ago.

“In less than a year the department has moved as far left as it can go,” the Iowa Senator said. “You’ve politicized the department in ways it shouldn’t be.”

“You’ve created a task force that includes the department’s Criminal Division and National Security Division to be potentially weaponized against parents,” Grassley said, adding “The last thing the Justice Department and FBI need is a vague memo to unleash their power — especially when they’ve shown zero interest in holding their own accountable.”

The memo in question was highlighted during last week’s House Judiciary hearing where Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) accused Garland of creating a “snitch line” on parents. 

Issued earlier this month, Garland’s memo announced the federal investigation of “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” 

Garland’s memo did not detail what the “threats of violence” were, but many parents and Republican politicians have accused him of targeting parents for speaking out against the implementation of mask mandates and critical race theory in K-12 schools. 

In recent months, many parents have spoken out against both at school board meetings, with some interactions turning raucous. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Sen. Chuck Grassley says that “the department has moved as far left as it can go.”
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Shortly before Garland issued the memo, the National School Boards Association asked  the federal government to get involved, comparing the threats of violence to “domestic terrorism.”

But the NSBA board of directors on Friday said “we regret and apologize for the letter” that was co-signed by association CEO Chip Slaven and president Viola Garcia.

“To be clear, the safety of school board members, other public school officials, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue,” the board wrote. “However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

Angry parents at school board meeting.
AG Merrick Garland will also be questioned about his memo ordering the FBI to investigate parents protesting school boards.
Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

Grassley stood up for parents in his opening remarks Wednesday, saying parents are just trying to “protect their children.”

“They’re worried about diversity and harmful curricula based upon critical race theory. They’re speaking their minds about mask mandates. This is the very core of constitutionally protected speech — and free speech is deadly to the tyranny of government, and is the lifeblood of our constitutional republic.”

“I suggest that you quickly change your course because you’re losing credibility with the American people and with this senator in particular,” he added.”

Garland has backed his memo, saying he “defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as viscerally as they wish, about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in their schools.” 

During Wednesday’s hearing, the attorney general is also expected to face questions about Hunter Biden. Last week, House Republicans pressed Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate the president’s son and his business endeavors. 

Grassley also brought attention to links in the “Communist Chinese regime that are connected to the Biden family,” specifically noting Patrick Ho, a Chinese national whom Hunter Biden reportedly previously agreed to represent.

Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho.
Sen. Chuck Grassley is expected to bring attention to links in the “Communist Chinese regime that are connected to the Biden family,” specifically noting Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho (pictured).

According to Grassley, Garland previously blocked an attempt for more information on Ho after the DOJ revealed it sought information on him, writing, “we are not in a position to confirm the existence of the information that is sought, if it exists in the Department’s possession.” 

Garland could also face questions about his son-in-law and the education company he co-founded, Panorama Education. Some Republicans have accused the attorney general of a conflict of interest, claiming his son-in-law’s company will benefit from the controversial memo. 

Last week, Garland denied those claims, saying, “This memorandum does not relate to the financial interests of anyone,” adding that the memo is aimed at the threats of violence.


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