Sen. Ted Cruz and Attorney General Merrick Garland had a tense exchange Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about a controversial Justice Department memo directing the FBI to monitor threats of violence against school board members.
Garland maintained that the purpose of the memo was to assess whether threats of violence against school officials warrant federal involvement, while Republican senators accused him of targeting parents protesting school curricula or decisions such as mask mandates.
Cruz accused Garland of using the Justice Department to target people with opposing political views and repeatedly questioned him on how many incidents of violence have taken place.
Garland said the memo is not political and it is immaterial if the threats were from the Left or the Right.
Cruz accused Garland of labeling the father of the victim of a reported rape at a school in Loudoun County, Virginia, a domestic terrorist for protesting the school’s response.
Garland denied the charge. Cruz cited as evidence a letter by an outside group, the National School Boards Association, which later apologized for "some of the language included in the letter."
Later in the hearing, Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, asked Garland if he called on the FBI to monitor school board meetings.
“No, I did not,” Garland replied.
Booker said the letter specifically “protects spirited debate” and cited recent school shootings as evidence for the Justice Department to monitor threats.
Booker asked if a “good-hearted parent who objects to mask mandates” would be targeted.
Garland said that objection would be “protected by the Constitution.”
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Original Author: Kate Scanlon
Original Location: Cruz accuses Garland of weaponizing Justice Department in heated hearing