Senator Josh Hawley grilled Deputy Attorney General (AG) Lisa Monaco over a memo distributed by AG Merrick Garland which mobilizes the FBI to address parents who ‘pose a threat’ at school board meetings.
The document, addressed to federal prosecutors and FBI Director Christopher Wray, centers attention on a purported “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
Garland’s move comes following a letter from the National School Boards Association that asked for an investigation into whether or not confrontations from outraged parents regarding mask mandates or Critical Race Theory (CRT) curricula are a violation of the Patriot Act.
The group suggests that “the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
Tuesday’s hearing was originally scheduled to discuss amendments to the Violence Against Women Act.
But Senators Hawley (R-MO) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) focused their attention on the memo.
Josh Hawley described the memorandum from AG Garland as “extraordinary” and alleged that it was evidence that the White House was “weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to go after its political opponents.”
“(Are) parents waiting, sometimes for hours, to speak at a local school board meeting to express concerns about critical race theory or the masking of their students, particularly young children, is that in and of itself harassment?” Hawley demanded.
Monaco replied that the memo makes it “quite clear” that “spirited debate is welcome.”
The Missouri Republican disagreed insisting it only addressed “harassment and intimidation,” something subject to broad interpretation in regards to tense exchanges at school board meetings.
“If this isn’t a deliberate attempt to chill parents from showing up at school board meetings, to their elected school board, I don’t know what is,” Hawley said. “You’re using the FBI to intervene in school board meetings.”
Cotton meanwhile, pointed out to Monaco that the Patriot Act was designed “primarily to stop the threat of Islamic Jihadists.”
“The association is asking the administration to use the PATRIOT Act … to bring criminal charges for domestic terrorism against parents who attend school boards to oppose things like Critical Race Theory or mask mandates,” Cotton pushed.
“Ms. Monaco, is it domestic extremism for a parent to advocate for their child’s best interests?” he asked.
Monaco conceded, “What you have described, no I would not describe as domestic extremism.”
Josh Hawley wasn’t finished ripping AG Merrick Garland and the Biden administration for weaponizing the Department of Justice (DOJ) against concerned parents, trying to silence their voices.
In a letter to the Attorney General, Hawley applauded Americans across the country for fighting back against school indoctrination.
“Americans have responded to this radical ideology by winning elections for local school boards and protesting peacefully at school board meetings,” he writes.
“Yet your memo yesterday to the FBI and local U.S. Attorneys ignored all of this and warned of an insurgence of ‘threats of violence’ and ‘efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.’”
Hawley said Garland’s efforts appear to be focused less on ‘violence’ – something he agrees has no place in the nation’s discourse – and more on addressing “pushback” from parents.
He advised the AG to stay out of “regular democratic activity.”
In an interview with Tucker Carlson Tuesday night, Hawley again addressed the controversy and suggested the FBI’s focus should be elsewhere.
“You can imagine some things FBI agents could be doing like maybe going to the border where we have an unprecedented surge in crime, of illegal immigration, of drug smuggling, but no, instead we are going to go after parents,” he said.
Hawley blasted the administration for sending the FBI to silence parents calling it “another first for Joe Biden and it’s a bad one.”
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