Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) demanded Thursday that the FBI and Department of Justice provide to the House Judiciary Committee any records related to counterterrorism tools used to potentially target alleged threats made against school boards.
In a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Jordan said Republicans on House Judiciary Committee are “investigating the troubling attempts by the Department of Justice and the White House to use the heavy hand of federal law enforcement to target concerned parents at local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity.”
It comes after an alleged FBI whistleblower released an email sent by top FBI counterterrorism and criminal division showing officials created a “threat tag” to investigate threats against teachers, school board members, and administrators.
The Department of Justice drew criticism after Attorney General Merrick Garland released a memo on Oct. 4 saying he was directing the FBI to coordinate resources due to an alleged “spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school staff.
The memo was sent out days after the National National School Boards Association (NSBA) issued a letter to President Joe Biden asking federal law enforcement officials to create “domestic terrorism and hate crimes” classifications for individuals who threatened school boards or teachers. About three weeks later, the NSBA apologized for the letter and attempted to distance itself from the Garland-issued memo.
Garland in late October testified in front of the Senate and House and didn’t provide statements that he would modify the wording in his memo after he was questioned by lawmakers about the matter.
But Jordan and House Judiciary Republicans asserted earlier this week Garland may have misled them under oath testified when he said that the FBI was “not using federal counterterrorism tools to target concerned parents.” Because of the whistleblower document, it calls into “question the accuracy” of Garland’s statements to the panels, Jordan said.
Now, Jordan, the ranking House Judiciary Committee member, is demanding that Wray should provide a record on the number of parents who have received the bureau’s “threat tag” as documented in the whistleblower-provided email.
The disclosure earlier this week, he argued, “only amplifies our need to investigate how the Biden Administration is using federal law enforcement resources, including counterterrorism tools, to target concerned parents at school board meetings.”
A spokesperson for the FBI told The Epoch Times on Tuesday that the bureau “has never been in the business of investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meetings, and we are not going to start now.”
A counterterrorism investigation can only be opened if there has been information suggesting the possible use of violence or force, or a potential violation of federal law, the FBI spokesperson said.
“The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. These are dual and simultaneous and not one at the expense of the other,” the FBI added. “We are fully committed to preserving and protecting First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech. The FBI’s focus is on violence and threats of violence that potentially violate federal law.”
The FBI hasn’t responded to a request for comment Friday in response to Jordan’s letter.