AG Garland Grilled Over Controversial ‘Domestic Terrorist’ Memo About Parents

In late 2021, Republicans called on the attorney general to rescind the memo.
AG Garland Grilled Over Controversial ‘Domestic Terrorist’ Memo About Parents
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in Congress in Washington on Sept. 20, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Jack Phillips

Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers during a House hearing that a memo directing the FBI to investigate parents speaking out during public school board meetings was never rescinded.

During an exchange with Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Mr. Garland was asked about the controversial memo that was sent out in October 2021, which asked the FBI to work with local and state law enforcement officials to target certain parents, while claiming at the time that it came amid harassment and threats of violence against some school officials.

Some parents were displeased with the increasingly leftist lens of school curricula at certain districts.

In late 2021, Republicans called on Mr. Garland to rescind the memo. Mr. Roy asked the attorney general again on Sept. 20 about whether it was rescinded, and Mr. Garland suggested that it wasn’t.

“There’s nothing to rescind,” Mr. Garland said in response. “The memo was intended to have meetings within 30 days. The 30 days have finished. Nothing has happened in more than a year and a half with respect to that.”

The Epoch Times contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ) for additional clarity on Mr. Garland’s comment but received no response by press time.


The aforementioned DOJ memo asked the FBI and various U.S. attorneys’ offices to hold a meeting in the next 30 days to coordinate with local law enforcement to address harassment, threats, or intimidation against school workers across the United States. It came after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) wrote a letter to the Biden administration and asked for federal aid, claiming that the government should use the Patriot Act to look into certain parents as “domestic terrorists.”
That memo drew significant backlash from Republicans and parents’ groups, who said it’s an attempt to chill First Amendment-protected speech. Earlier this year, a report released by the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee (pdf) found that the DOJ had “no legitimate basis” to direct the FBI to police parents at school board meetings.

“It appears, from these documents and the information received previously,” the March report said, “that the Administration’s actions were a political offensive meant to quell swelling discord over controversial education curricula and unpopular school board decisions.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) challenges open borders policy advocate Alex Nowrasteh during a House Immigration Integrity Subcommittee hearing in Washington on Sept. 14, 2023. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) challenges open borders policy advocate Alex Nowrasteh during a House Immigration Integrity Subcommittee hearing in Washington on Sept. 14, 2023. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Virginia Father Mentioned

During his round of questioning, Mr. Roy cited Scott Smith, a Virginia father who was recently pardoned by Gov. Glenn Youngkin after he was targeted by law enforcement for calling out the Loudoun County school district’s handling of his daughter’s sexual assault case during a 2021 school board meeting. After he was pardoned, Mr. Smith said in a statement several weeks ago that he’s not a “domestic terrorist” and “just a father who will go to the ends of the Earth to protect his daughter.”

“On Oct. 21, 2021, before this committee, I asked you about Mr. Scott Smith, a father in Loudoun County, Virginia, who was arrested at a school board meeting where he questioned the rape of his daughter in the bathroom of a public school there. You said at the time you were unfamiliar with the case. Are you now? Yes or no?” Mr. Roy asked Mr. Garland during the hearing.

The attorney general said: “[I am] only familiar to the extent that I have read about it in the press. Yes.”

“You sent on a memo on Oct. 4, 2021, directing the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office to address ‘harassment’ of school boards. Yes or no?” Mr. Roy asked.

“Sent a memo to address violence and threats of violence in connection with school personnel,” the attorney general said, adding that it was “not directed at school boards” but was “directed at school personnel, school administrators.”

Notably, the NSBA memo cited Mr. Smith’s case. In his statement after being pardoned, Mr. Smith said, “[The] NSBA defamed me, impugning my reputation and that of other concerned parents who dared challenge our local school board.”

Mr. Roy asked Mr. Garland whether he’s apologized for putting out the DOJ memo that “implicated Scott Smith as a domestic terrorist.”

“The memo said nothing about him, nothing about parents being terrorists, nothing about attending school boards,” the attorney general responded.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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