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GOP vows pointless investigation into Attorney General Garland

Coming up with a meaningful governing agenda is hard. Vowing to use congressional power to pursue pointless investigations is easy.


There are some beliefs that Republicans embrace with great enthusiasm, long after they’ve been discredited. GOP officials just know, for example, that Donald Trump created the greatest economy in generations (he didn’t). They know that the Russia scandal was debunked (it wasn’t). They know that the Obama-era IRS scandal exposed meaningful wrongdoing (it didn’t).

And they know that the Biden administration targeted conservative parents who go to school board meetings, reality notwithstanding.

Rep. Jim Jordan, for example, published a bizarre tweet this week. “Reminder: Attorney General Garland still hasn’t rescinded his memo which allows [the Justice Department] to spy on parents at school board meetings,” the Ohio Republican, who’s slated to chair of the House Judiciary Committee in a GOP-led Congress, wrote on Monday.

There is no such memo.

Two days later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared on Fox News and was asked what voters could expect from a prospective Republican majority. The GOP leader listed a variety of vague priorities, before telling viewers:

“We’re going to investigate the attorney general. Why did he go after parents and call them ‘terrorists’ simply because they wanted to go to a school board meeting?”

To be sure, if the attorney general of the United States called parents “terrorists” simply because they wanted to go to a school board meeting, that would be a major development. But McCarthy’s claim isn’t even close to being true.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, one might think, given the intensity of the partisan pushback, that Garland had sent FBI agents to homes to harass unsuspecting parents. In reality, the attorney general was confronted with real-world evidence of educators being targeted as part of an intimidation campaign, leading him to write a memo explaining the importance of preventing threats and potential violence.

“In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools,” Garland wrote in a memorandum on Oct. 4. “While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.

“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

American politics offers plenty of interesting scandals. This isn’t one of them.

In fact, common sense suggests that the GOP officials lashing out at Garland — several Republican senators have even called for his resignation — must realize there’s no real controversy here. They’re not illiterate. They’ve had an opportunity to read the attorney general’s relatively brief memo and look for imagined evidence of Justice Department overreach.

So why engage in furious theatrics? In part because these Republicans appear eager to keep the GOP scared, engaged, and agitated with exaggerated claims that have already been discredited.

Coming up with a meaningful governing agenda is hard. Vowing to use congressional power to pursue pointless investigations is easy.