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Garland Defends Memo Ordering FBI to Investigate Threats against School Boards

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Congress.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland told senators on Wednesday that he had no plans to rescind a memo that orders the FBI to investigate threats against educators and school board members. 

The memo was the focus of Garland’s testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Republicans called on Garland to withdraw the order.

The Oct. 4 memo was intended to curtail threats against school officials, not to police protected speech, Garland told senators, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“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 said. “This memo does not say to begin prosecuting anybody. It says to make assessments. That’s what we do in the Justice Department. It has nothing to do with politics.”

Republicans continued to criticized Garland. 

“I think most of the American people are just sort of flabbergasted if your answer is you have no regrets about this memo. Is that what you’re telling us? You think this was wise?” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked. 

“Senator, the obligation of the Justice Department is to protect the American people against violence, including threats of violence, and that particularly includes public officials. That is still a concern for the department,” Garland responded.

The order came after the National School Boards Association urged President Biden to offer federal assistance as educators are increasingly threatened over their positions on mask mandates and critical race theory. 


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