Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik today questioned Mr. John Cohen from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Mr. Timothy Langan from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), at the House Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Countering Domestic Terrorism.
Watch Stefanik’s line of questioning here.
During the hearing, Stefanik said, “The American people are deeply concerned about the politicization of domestic terrorism.”
She then traced how the Department of Justice (DOJ) fell prey to a politicized letter from the National School Board Association, which has since been rescinded, calling on the Biden Administration to have the “federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority, inter-agency and inter-government task forces, and other extraordinary measures.” This letter also called parents actions “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism.” Stefanik noted that Attorney General Garland confirmed the letter was the reason the DOJ wrote a memo directing the FBI to meet with leaders to discuss strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.
During her line of questioning, Stefanik pressed Mr. Langan on whether the FBI held any of these meetings directed by Attorney General Garland.
The witness said he didn’t know, but confirmed meetings were held in conjunction with the FBI.
Stefanik then asked the witness a series of questions on whether the FBI considers parents domestic terrorists, including parents that oppose Critical Race Theory or mask mandates.
Next, Stefanik asked, “Because the Attorney General Garland memo was based upon the school board association’s letter, which has now been rescinded, why has the Department not rescinded the Garland memo?”
Mr. Langan said that question would have to be referred to the DOJ.
Mr. Cohen responded by saying that state and local law enforcement were not seeing widespread violent action.
Stefanik continued to press the witnesses during her second line of questioning. Watch more here.
Read Stefanik’s full opening statement below:
“The American people are deeply concerned about the politicization of domestic terrorism. This issue has been at the forefront over the past month in response to an order from the Attorney General for the FBI to convene meetings across the U.S. in response to Constitutionally-protected speech and assembly at school board events, particularly in Virginia.
“In September, the National School Boards Association released a public letter to President Biden requesting federal assistance to address alleged violence targeting children, school board members, and educators. The letter referenced increased threats of violence due to frustration over mask mandates and the teaching of Critical Race Theory and requested, ‘The federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority, inter-agency and inter-government task forces, and other extraordinary measures.’
“The letter went on to state that ‘the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism,’ and it requested that the Administration review all applicable laws and policies, including the Patriot Act, to relevant enforcement options to the threat.
“We know, according to emails obtained by the group Americans Defending Education, that the school board coordinated this effort with the White House prior to this release. Five days after the release of the school board association letter, the Attorney General released a memo directing the FBI to meet with leaders to discuss strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.
“In testimony, before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Garland confirmed that this letter was the relevant factor in the creation of the memo that was sent out by the Department of Justice.
“This is the politicization at the Department of Justice without facts to support the alleged growing threat and need for federal investigation, specifically, targeting parents and parental groups. We now know that the letter that the school board association released a statement to its members rescinding the letter, saying that they ‘regret and apologize.’ And yet, the Attorney General has not retracted this memo.”