McConnell blames Garland for the memo from the school board, saying parental protests are ‘democracy, not intimidation’

FIRST ON FOX: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to clarify what his recent note on “harassment” and “intimidation” of school officials means, including whether recall of election efforts constitutes intimidation that should have been investigated by the police.

The letter follows days of outrage over the Attorney General’s note that came shortly after a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to President Biden, who said some rhetorical clashes between school boards and parents could constitute “domestic terrorism.”

Garland’s note told the FBI to take the lead in a task force to deal with threats against school officials, including creating a centralized way of reporting such threats.

“‘[Y]you instructed federal law enforcement to partner with state and local governments to address “threats of violence and other forms of intimidation and harassment” by “school administrators, board members, teachers and staff” in public schools, “McConnell, R-Ky., wrote. on Garland’s memo. “The memo is alleged to respond to a ‘disturbing increase’ in threats and harassment against these officials – even if it is silent about the alleged perpetrators or any actual predicates of this act.”

DOJ RELEASES DEFENSE TO Fight violence against threats against school officials

McConnell added: “The ominous rhetoric of your memorandum does not reflect the reality of what we have seen on school boards across the country in recent months.”

The minority leader is far from the first Republican elected official to attack Garland over the timing and tone of his letter. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Said earlier this week that Garland’s memo emerged as an attempt to go after opponents of critical race theory. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Meanwhile, called Garland’s note “politically motivated abuse of power.”

But the fact that the top Republican in the U.S. Senate is also weighing in suggests that the GOP will not let this problem fade into the background, and that Justice Department officials who appear before Congress can probably expect to face tough questions about critical race theory. and this note for some time.

McConnell continues in the letter to condemn “violence, threats of violence and other criminal behavior” as “always wrong” – including the few times this year that police have needed to be involved in restricting unruly parents at school board meetings. But, McConnell said, the widespread outrage against critical race theory is not something law enforcement should be involved in monitoring.

Attorney General Merrick Garland resigns after speaking at the Department of Justice in Washington on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Garland sparked outrage with a note many Republicans interpreted as an invitation to the FBI to begin investigating concerned parents at school board meetings.  (Find McNamee / Pool via AP)

Attorney General Merrick Garland resigns after speaking at the Department of Justice in Washington on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Garland sparked outrage with a note many Republicans interpreted as an invitation to the FBI to begin investigating concerned parents at school board meetings. (Find McNamee / Pool via AP)
(Find McNamee / Pool via AP)

“Parents should definitely tell their local schools what to learn. This is the very foundation of the representative government,” McConnell said. “They do this both by election and – as protected by the first amendment to the Constitution – while asking their government for redress. To tell elected officials that they are wrong is democracy, not intimidation.”

McConnell raised further concerns about the work of critical race theorists who have to go after the very parents Republicans believe Garland’s memo goal. He specifically noted that an official in Loudon County, Va., Was a member of a Facebook group that discussed hacking of parents’ sites, while another was a “member of a group that sought to” doxx “concerned parents.”

McConnell also asks if Garland’s office has consulted with anyone from NSBA, the group whose letter to Biden is believed to have been the driving force behind Garland’s note.

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DOJ officials have defended Garland’s memo in several Senate hearings this week. State Attorney Lisa Monaco, during questioning by Hawley, said the memo is only about violence and threats of violence, and it is the role of the FBI to deal with those threats.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a separate hearing that the Department of Justice does not see parenting as a threat and that the Attorney General’s note is only focused on threats and intimidation.

“The first change is a core value for our democracy,” Clarke said. “The Attorney General’s note deals with threats against public servants and says that threats against public servants are not only illegal, they are contrary to our nation’s core values.”

She further clarified that she does not believe that parents who object to school board meetings are domestic terrorists.

Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.

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