Attorney General Merrick Garland promised to provide a report to Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse detailing the results of any investigations into threats against public education officials.
“Will you pledge you will report back to this committee with the results of your investigation about how big a threat the American parent class is to school boards in the country?” Sasse asked, questioning why threats against local officials are a concern for federal law enforcement.
“I’m pretty sure you believe that local law enforcement is more than able to handle some one idiot or twelve idiots at school board meetings, but you made it a federal issue and I don’t have any idea why, and at no point today have you offered us a shred of data,” he continued.
“I will be happy to get a report back to you, but this is not about the American parent class,” Garland answered.
“I know it’s about the politicization of DOJ, and you decided to submit as a vessel, and you know better,” Sasse responded.
Garland defended the contents of his Oct. 4 memo to Sasse, arguing that it was “aimed at violence and threats of violence.” (RELATED: ‘Did You Consider The Chilling Effect?’: Sen. Cornyn Presses Garland On School Board Memo)
“Arguments against a school board are protected by the First Amendment, threats are not by the First Amendment. We received a letter from the national association of school boards—” the attorney general said, before Sasse cut him off.
“No, you didn’t receive an anonymous letter,” Sasse shot back. “White House political staff co-wrote it with this organization, which is why the organization has rejected it. You know these facts to be true, yet you still won’t disavow your memo. Why?”
Parents Defending Education, an advocacy organization, obtained emails through the Freedom of Information Act showing that National School Board Association officials were in contact with White House staffers before the group sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that federal law enforcement officials address unruly behavior, including threats, directed toward public education officials.
One email, from NSBA CEO Chip Slaven, explains that White House staffers “requested additional information on some of the specific threats.”
“How big is the threat American parents pose right now?” Sasse continued. “Are parents at school boards one of the top three concerns you face right now?”
“The purpose of this memorandum is to get our law enforcement to assess the extent of the problem, and if there is no problem, if states and local law enforcement are capable of handling the problem, then there is no need for our involvement,” Garland answered. “This memo does not say to begin prosecuting anybody. It says to make assessments.”