WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) released Federal Bureau of Investigation emails showing that FBI lawyers were kept in the dark about Attorney General Merrick Garland’s infamous memorandum weaponizing the federal government’s anti-terrorism authorities against American parents.
On October 4, 2021, AG Garland issued a memorandum to address alleged “Violent Threats Against School Officials and Teachers.” The Biden Administration promised to create a “task force,” including the “Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service and the Office of Justice Programs to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute” parents, and to help local law enforcement prosecute parents in cases “where threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes.”
On October 7, 2021, AFL requested the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General investigate “whether the Attorney General’s Memorandum was formulated and issued based on improper considerations.” AFL highlighted serious irregularities, including evidence demonstrating that the memorandum’s stated justification was a fabricated pretext by the Biden White House to chill parents’ speech and political action. Among other things, AFL pointed out that “the normal clearance process and standard order both within the department (including legal sufficiency review by the Office of Legal Counsel, the Civil Rights Division, the Criminal Division, the Office of Legal Policy, and other components), and between the department and the White House Counsel’s Office and the Office of Management and Budget, [had been] bypassed or corrupted.”
On March 21, 2023, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government and the House Judiciary Committee released an interim staff report showing “no legitimate basis” for AG Garland’s memorandum. The report, based on an initial set of materials produced in response to the Committee’s subpoenas to the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Education, cites emails describing the Biden Administration’s justification for federal action as “manufactured,” and states that the Biden Administration’s goal “seems to have been silencing the critics of its radical education policies and neutralizing an issue that was threatening Democrat Party prospects in the close gubernatorial race in Virginia.”
On March 22, 2023, AFL received a FOIA production from the FBI in response to a request for records made eighteen months earlier. Though only two pages in length, this production paints a stunning picture of the internal conversations circulating at the DOJ on the day the unprecedented memo was issued.
On October 4, 2021, after the memo was issued earlier that day, the Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division sent an email to his FBI colleagues, making sure they had all seen the memo and explaining that he was trying to “track down additional on this from today.” This email suggests that AG Garland’s memorandum had blindsided the Counterterrorism Division.
A senior FBI attorney responded nine minutes later, “I hope DOJ reconsiders.”
Finally, another employee responds on the chain and loops in Monty Wilkinson (former Acting Attorney General at the start of the Biden Administration, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Attorney General Eric Holder, and current Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (USAEO)), stating that FBI was “asking that the memo be revised,” to which an employee from the USAEO replies, “it’s a little too late.”
The FBI production and the House report confirm AFL’s allegations that AG Garland’s memorandum attacking parents was an abuse of the Department of Justice’s power for improper partisan political purposes. America First Legal will continue fighting against AG Garland’s campaign of intimidation against parents and the Biden Administration’s weaponization of the federal government against the American people.
Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice-President and General Counsel:
“The Attorney General’s infamous October 4, 2021, memorandum that attempted to weaponize the Department of Justice against parents, in a brazen attempt to influence the political outcome of the Virginia gubernatorial race, is but one of many examples of the politicization of the Department under the Biden Administration. We have known all along that the timeline at issue–a letter to the President followed by an Attorney General memorandum within days–indicated that the underlying premise for the memorandum was as fake as the Biden Administration’s commitment to the equal application of the law. The report issued by the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government and the House Judiciary Committee this week confirms our assertions about the Attorney General’s memorandum. And now, the records we are revealing today further show that the memo blindsided the FBI. Stay tuned for more details as we continue our vital work,“ said Gene Hamilton.
Read the production here.
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