AG Merrick Garland's outrageous Senate testimony sparked ringing denunciations from GOP senators
Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday demonstrated that he is unfit for office as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, much less as a justice of the Supreme Court. Whatever reservations you may have about Mitch McConnell, be grateful that he kept this hack off the Supreme Court.
Garland basically stonewalled on all the difficult questions he faced. He defended his now notorious memo to the FBI, written in response (in four days!) to a letter from the National School Boards Association, even as GOP senators repeatedly pointed out that the NSBA now has apologized for it.
No apologies were forthcoming from Garland. Nor were yes or no answers to questions posed to him by Republicans who wanted them. A number of times, he used the "I can't remember" or "I didn't know" dodge.
A good example is this brief (under 4 minutes) interaction with Senator Tom Cotton, in which he defended the letter and failed to answer the basic point of why he called for the National Security Division of the FBI (which handles terrorism) to investigate those who complain about school boards.
Transcript via Grabien:
COTTON: "All right. All right. Judge, you've repeatedly — you've repeatedly dissembled this morning about that directive. For instance about The National security division. Chuck Grassley asked you a very simple question why you would sic The National security division of the Department of Justice on parents? John Cornyn asked you the same thing. You said it was in your October 4th memorandum, it was in another office's memorandum. It wasn't another office's memorandum, judge, it was in a press release from your office. Right here in front of me, October 4th 2021 for immediate release you're going to credit task force hat include The National security division. What on earth does The National security division have to do with parents who are expressing disagreements at school boards?"
GARLAND: "Nothing in this memorandum or any memorandum is about parents expressing disagreements with their school boards. The memorandum makes clear that parents are entitled and protected by the First Amendment. Vigorous debates, we don't — the Justice Department is not interested in that question at all." [crosstalk]
COTTON: "OK. So even in that case, what is The National security division, judge? These are people that are supposed to be chasing jihadist and Chinese spies. What does The National security division have to do with parents at school boards?"
GARLAND: "This is not, again, about parents at school boards, it's about the threats of violence."
COTTON: "OK. Let me — let me turn to that because you've said that phrase repeatedly throughout the morning, threats, violence and threats of violence, violence and threats of violence."
COTTON: "We have heard it a dozen times this morning. As Senator Lee pointed out the very first line in your October 4th memorandum refers to harassment and intimidation. Why do you continue to dissemble in front of this commitee that you're only talking about violence and threats of violence when your memo says harassment and intimidation?"
GARLAND: "Senator, I said in my testimony that it involved other kinds of criminal conduct and the — and I explained to Senator Lee that the statutory definitions of those terms and the Constitutional definitions of the terms involve threats of violence." COTTON: "OK. Let's look at one of the statutes you cited."
COTTON: "Section 223."
COTTON: "That statute covers the use of not just phones but telecommunications devices to annoy — to annoy someone. So, are you going to sic your U.S. attorneys and the FBI on a parents group if they post on Facebook something that annoys a school board member, judge?"
GARLAND: "Well, the answer to that is no. And the provision that I was particularly drawing to his attention was 2261 a wich was to engage —"
COTTON: "I wasn't talking about 2261 a. I know you mentioned that. You also mentioned 223, that's what I mentioned."
GARLAND: "Yeah. But the —" [crosstalk]
COTTON: "Judge you also told — you also told Senator Klobuchar that this memorandum was about meetings and coordination."
COTTON: "Meetings and coordination."
COTTON: "What I have in my hand right here, that I'll submit to the record, a letter from one of your U.S. attorneys to all of the county attorneys to the attorney general to all sheriffs, to the school board association of his state in which he talks about federal investigation and prosecution. It's not about meetings, it's not about coordinations, it's about federal investigation and prosecution."
GARLAND: "I —"
COTTON: "Did — did you direct your U.S. attorneys to issue such a letter?"
GARLAND: "I did not. I have not seen that letter. My —" [crosstalk]
COTTON: "It's got three pages. It's got three pages —"
GARLAND: "My memorandum —"
COTTON: "— of spreadsheet about all the federal crimes that a — that a parent can be charged with, to include the one you cited. Did — did —"
GARLAND: "My memorandum —"
COTTON: "Did main justice make this spreadsheet, judge?"
GARLAND: "I don't have any idea. My memorandum speaks specifically about setting up meetings and I'll just read it again, convene meetings —"
COTTON: "Judge, we — we've all read your memorandum."
GARLAND: "Then you know what I —"
COTTON: "We've also heard you dissemble about your memorandum."
Garland looked old, and sometimes his voice shook a little, but he was basically unflappable, as if he knew he could never be impeached, and he was doing the dirty work that the establishment wants.
The highlights for me were the denunciations he received from several Republican senators.
Here is Josh Hawley, who was particularly impressive:
Sen. Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) to AG Merrick Garland at Wednesday's hearing: "You have weaponized the FBI and the DOJ... It's wrong, it's unprecedented to my knowledge in the history of this country, and I call on you to resign." pic.twitter.com/y1r8oIbOPs— Newsmax (@newsmax) October 27, 2021
And here is Ted Cruz, who really ripped into Garland toward the close of the hearing.
There were others, including Mike Lee and John Kennedy, who did good work exposing the slipperiness of Garland.
But in the end, he stood his shaky ground and never lost his cool.
He's a stand-up guy for the mob that sees the Constitution as an obstacle to its power-grab.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.
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