Garland to face questions about politicization of the Justice Department

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Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where he is expected to face questions about the politicization of the Justice Department.

Garland’s Senate testimony comes less than a week after he addressed the same issues before the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday and during a time when the agency is in the middle of several high-profile cases and controversies.

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)
(Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

Republican members of the committee will likely focus on issues related to Hunter Biden, school boards and critical race theory, while Democrats are likely to focus on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

CRT and school boards

An issue that House Republicans seized on during last week’s hearing was Garland’s recent memo to the Justice Department about its employees intervening in incidents of violence or intimidation targeting state and local school board officials.

Republican lawmakers have criticized Garland for involving the federal government in issues that they claim should be handled by state and local law enforcement.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about a jury’s verdict in the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, April 21, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Garland has also taken heat for issuing his memo just days after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) issued a letter asking the Biden administration to use the Patriot Act to deal with incidents of nonviolent disruption of school board meetings over issues such as critical race theory and transgender bathrooms.

The letter said some threats against school board members could be akin to “domestic terrorism.”

The NSBA on Friday issued an apology for some of the wording in the letter, writing in part: “On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter.”

The NSBA went on to note that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

The letter has since prompted congressional Republicans to call for the resignation of Garland, who has attempted to distance himself from some of the letter’s language.

“The attorney general has been quite clear that the job of the Department of Justice working with state and local law enforcement is to prevent violence, to prevent threats of violence, whether it’s in school boards, whether it’s in hate crimes, whether it’s against election workers, whether it’s directed against judges or members of Congress,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco during a recent press conference.

“Our focus is on preventing violence and threats of violence,” she added.

The Department of Education raised eyebrows earlier this week amid revelations that it had appointed Viola Garcia to a federal board overseeing student progress. Garcia is president of the NSBA and signed the letter that stoked controversy.

Garland has also faced scrutiny because of his son-in-law, Xan Tanner, who co-founded an education consultancy that pushed CRT-related ideas and provided services to school districts across the country. Garland’s ties to the company have raised questions about potential conflicts of interest related to law enforcement cracking down on school board opposition.

During the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, got into a heated exchange regarding whether Jordan would be permitted to play video of parents at school board meetings.

Hunter Biden

“I’ve also asked for information relating to Chinese nationals linked to the communist Chinese regime that are connected to the Biden family,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“One individual, Patrick Ho, was not just linked to the Chinese regime, he was apparently connected to its intelligence services. Hunter Biden reportedly represented him for $1 million.”

The White House promised to keep the identities of buyers of Hunter Biden’s art a secret, but "many ethics experts expressed sharp disapproval of the arrangement," according to Politico’s Ben Schreckinger.  (Randy Holmes via Getty Images)
(Randy Holmes via Getty Images)

During his appearance before members of the House, Reps. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., asked Garland whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate Hunter Biden and his finances.

Buck noted how a piece of Hunter’s artwork was sold for $500,000, which he argued was thanks to familial ties.

Garland said he could not comment, saying there is an ongoing federal investigation of Hunter Biden.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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