Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, accusing him of weaponizing the FBI to monitor parents with opposing political views.
In early October, Garland and the Department of Justice directed the FBI to monitor threats of violence made against school board members by parents in a disturbing display of federal overreach.
Cruz accused Garland of using the Justice Department to investigate people of opposing political views and questioned him on how many incidents with threats of violence took place.
“When you came before this committee in your confirmation hearing, you promised things would be different. I asked you specifically, ‘Will you commit to this committee that under your leadership, the Department of Justice will not target the political opponents of this administration?’ Here was your answer: ‘Absolutely. It’s totally inappropriate for the Department to target any individual because of their politics or their position in a campaign’ That was your promise just a few months ago. I’m sorry to say you have broken that promise,” said Cruz.
“On Wednesday, September 29, the National School Board Association wrote a letter to the president asking the president to use the Department of Justice to target parents that were upset at critical race theory, that were upset at mask mandates in schools, to target them as domestic terrorists,” Cruz added.
“Five days later, on Monday, so right after the weekend, boom, you pop out a memo giving them exactly what they want,” Cruz continued. “In the letter, which you told the House of Representatives was the basis for this abusive memo targeting parents, how many incidents are cited in that memo?”
Garland replied that he could not remember how many of the incidents were violent.
“Okay. 15 of the 20 on the face of it are not violent,” said Cruz. “They’re not threats of violence. They’re parents who are unhappy. Yet, miraculously, when you write a memo, the opening line of your memo, ‘In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence.’ You know what? You didn’t look and nobody on your staff looked. Did you even look up the 20 instances?” Cruz questioned Garland.
Garland told Cruz that he did not know the answer.
Garland claimed that his memo was not political. However, Cruz accused Garland of labeling the father, whose daughter was a victim of rape by a transgender student at Stone Bridge High School in Loudoun County, Virginia, as a “domestic terrorist” for protesting when the school attempted to cover up the assault.
Scott Smith, the father, was brutally beaten and dragged out of the school board meeting by police officers and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after yelling at an activist who heckled him and told him the assault never happened.
Garland denied Cruz’s accusation.
“I’ll tell you what,” said the Texas senator. “The NSBA is so embarrassed of this letter, they’ve apologized for it and retracted it, but you don’t apparently have the same willingness to apologize and retract what you did.”
He continued, “A big part of this letter is that they’re upset about parents not wanting critical race theory taught. Your son-in-law makes a very substantial sum of money from a company involved in the teaching of critical race theory. Did you seek and receive a decision from an ethics advisor at the Department of Justice before you carried out an action that would have had a predictable financial benefit to your son-in-law?”
Garland told Cruz that he did not believe that this occurrence was a conflict of interest and denied any wrongdoing.