House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has issued subpoenas to Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona after they failed to voluntarily provide documents related to the Biden administration’s targeting of parents during school board meetings.
Jordan has ordered the subpoenas as part of the work of the brand-new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. That panel was formed under the authority of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) when the GOP re-took control of the House last month.
The subcommittee is charged in part with probing the Biden Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigations into perceived “threats” made by parents who spoke out at the school board meetings.
The DOJ has claimed that some American school board meetings became controversial during the COVID-19 pandemic as parents expressed their frustrations and concerns regarding mask mandates and when students could return to in-person learning.
In 2021 and 2022, Judiciary Committee Republicans sent more than 100 letters to Biden administration officials seeking answers on the federal government’s use of counterterrorism resources against parents. But, until last month, GOP members could only send the letters and did not have the authority to issue subpoenas to compel compliance with their requests.
Whistleblowers have claimed that Garland directed the FBI to investigate American parents and that the FBI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Divisions created a specific threat label for threats against school board members and administrators.
Republican lawmakers have said the FBI opened investigations into parents simply because they spoke out on behalf of their children in ways fully protected by the First Amendment. They point to Garland’s directive leading to investigations that chilled free speech nationwide. Those came after a letter was sent to Joe Biden by the National School Boards Association demanding the weaponization of the Patriot Act against parents.
Emails previously obtained by Jordan reportedly show that the Biden White House was aware of the letter and did not object.
The subcommittee is also seeking information on the FBI’s search for classified documents at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the FBI’s alleged inflation of the domestic violent extremist threat, and its alleged abuse of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.
The Republicans have identified 15 Justice Department officials they want to hear from, including Garland and his top deputies. In addition, they have asked for testimony from Wray and eight other FBI officials, citing “a rampant culture of unaccountability, manipulation, and abuse at the highest level of the DOJ.”
The subpoenas require the three officials to turn over all relevant documents by March 1 and mark a significant step forward in the House Republicans’ promise to Americans that they would look deeply into abuses of civil liberties by the Biden administration.