It was full court press on Wednesday for the House Judiciary Oversight hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Fresh off a congressional contempt resolution, Wray once again sat before the body to answer questions about the weaponization of the DOJ under the Biden administration, along with the form FD-1023 which alleges bribery on the part of Joe Biden while he was Obama’s VP. IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, and the indictment of Gal Luft, was also a topic of questioning.
As my colleague Nick Arama reported on Thursday:
Republicans grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray during a House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, but as one might have anticipated from prior testimony, Wray gave his typical “answer but not answer” responses.
Those non-answer answers were particularly pronounced when Wray was questioned by Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA) about the Department of Justice’s targeting of parents who disagreed with the direction of their children’s education and chose to attend school board meetings to challenge the board on curriculum and standards—like the overtly sexualized books in the school library and critical race theory.
Today FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed there was absolutely no basis for Merrick Garland’s infamous directive targeting parents at school board meetings.
The Attorney General is guilty of a chilling and unprecedented abuse of power. pic.twitter.com/FPST0KbsbQ
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) July 12, 2023
I’m old enough to remember back in 2022 when Attorney General Merrick Garland opened investigations based on a letter by the National School Board Association—despite the fact that the NSBA had been roundly embarrassed and excoriated for its whining demands that the federal government target parents expressing their First Amendment rights.
Despite the NSBA’s backtrack, Garland said the substance of the letter was still relevant and defended his memo in late October testimony to the House and Senate judiciary committees. In January, emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona had solicited the NSBA’s letter to the administration.
“The information we have received shows how, as a direct result of your directive, federal law enforcement is using counterterrorism resources to investigate protected First Amendment activity,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) wrote in the letter.
The representatives said the information shared by “brave whistle blowers” indicated that the FBI had opened investigations under a previously disclosed “threat tag” that categorized reported threats in “almost every region of the country and relating to all types of educational settings.”
The full breadth of Rep. Kiley’s questioning has been overshadowed by the grandstanding of FL Rep. Matt Gaetz and Wray’s refusal to discuss any FBI role during the January 6 kerfuffle. Kiley did a masterful job of actually getting an honest response from Wray (whether Wray intended to or not), that all this targeting of parents was predicated on absolutely nothing.
Kiley also brought back to the forefront the damage caused by the government’s overreach with school closures and the delays in reopening, as well as parents’ legitimate outrage over what was occurring in the name of THE SCIENCE™. Children suffered greatly, but instead of addressing this horrific damage, the Department of Justice added insult to injury by targeting the very parents who were simply trying to address these issues that were keeping their children from healthy development and a quality education.
Kiley began his questioning by succinctly documenting this evidence:
KILEY: Good morning, Director Wray. I’d like to take you back to 2021.In many parts of the country, schools remained closed month after month for no good reason. Once schools did nominally open, many instituted draconian testing and quarantine regimens, such as because one student is possibly exposed to COVID, everyone goes home for the week. Children as young as toddlers were subjected to harmful mask mandates that defied International norms. The way some students were treated truly shocks the conscience. Just consider a few examples from my own State of California: a school district in Davis sent an email to parents announcing that their children will be required to eat outside in the rain to reduce exposure to COVID. A school in Sonoma County made young children chew with their masks on explaining this was to minimize the time spent unmasked. Some schools in Los Angeles limited students to one bathroom break per day and barred them from drinking water outside of the lunch period. A school in the San Ramon Valley made students eat lunch on the ground in October of that year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics would declare a national state of emergency in children’s mental health citing dramatic increases in emergency department visits for all mental health emergencies included, including suspected suicide attempts.
So much damage, which also included the three to five years of learning loss, the lost scholarships and opportunities for those who would have been in their junior and senior years of high school, and the inability to participate and progress in sports. Wray’s countenance, which often mirrors insufferable smugness, did not change at the iteration of these damages.
KILEY: In the face of this, Director, the Biden Administration decided to take action. It mobilized the sweeping powers of federal law enforcement, but it wasn’t to spare kids from such cruelty. Rather it was to target the parents who were speaking out against it. The administration coordinated with the National School Board Association on a letter that began with the alarming claim [that] America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat. The letter cited a handful of news stories almost all of which involved purely expressive activity by parents at school board meetings and called such activity a form of domestic terrorism. The latter called for the full counterterrorism and law enforcement powers of the federal government, including authority granted under the Patriot Act to be mobilized to investigate, intercept, and prevent such activity.
The Biden Administration was ready to take this rhetoric letter and run with it the moment it was received after all administration officials had participated in its drafting. Within five days of receiving it, Attorney General Merrick Garland fired off his infamous memo directing federal action in response to a quote, “disturbing spike in harassment and intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” In response, the FBI opened assessments against parents and even created a new threat tag.
Director Wray, did Attorney General Garland consult with you or the FBI before issuing that memorandum?
As Arama pointed out, the non-answers are Wray’s default.
WRAY: I can’t get into discussions that did—or maybe more importantly—did not happen between the FBI and the department in advance of.
Kiley picked up on Wray’s language and turned it on him.
KILEY: Why do you say, “more importantly, did not?”
WRAY: Well, because I will say to you the same thing that I said to all 56 of our field offices as soon as I read the memo. Which is the FBI is not in the business of investigating or policing speech at school board meetings or anywhere else for that matter, and we’re not going to start now. Now violence, threats of violence, that’s a different matter. We’re going to work with ourselves…
Wray walked right into it. He could refuse to acknowledge any discussions between himself and the DOJ about the memo, but since he brought in the FBI’s role to address threats of violence, then Wray needed to give evidence of where these threats were coming from and how they justified the actions the DOJ took—and the FBI executed—against parents.
KILEY: So, that’s what the memo was predicated on and what I’m asking you was there any evidence that you provided to Attorney General Garland that supported, that predicate, that premise that there was an increase in harassment and threats of violence?
WRAY: I’m not aware of any such evidence, but I know that we’ve had a number of, uh, of our folks who have been up here for transcribed interviews. So, unless some of them shared it I’m not aware of anything.
Kiley effectively backs Wray into a corner, by pointing to the evidence and testimony that Wray is attempting to use to dismiss this line of questioning, and forces Wray to actually give a direct answer.
KILEY: Well, actually, what they’ve shared with us points to just the opposite. You had for example a letter from Christopher Dunham, Acting Assistant Director in March of this year, where the FBI acknowledged that it has not observed an uptick of threats directed at school officials since it began tracking the data. Does that sound accurate to you?
WRAY: Yes sir.
KILEY: And is it also true that according to the FBI itself, none of the school board related investigations have resulted in federal arrests or charges?
Wray attempts to dissemble and filibuster.
WRAY: I think that’s correct. I think of the 25, and for context, you know that’s 25 umm—
KILEY: I’m sorry, I have limited time so if that’s correct, I’d like to move on. This committee’s investigation concluded that the Justice Department’s own documents demonstrated that there was no compelling nationwide law enforcement justification for the Attorney General’s directive, do you have any reason to dispute that conclusion?
Wray is once again required to give a YES or NO answer, allowing Kiley to lower the boom and effectively put Wray on the defensive.
KILEY: So, we had an investigation of parents, we had a sweeping mobilization of federal power against the most protected core First Amendment activity, the right of citizens to speak and petition their government on the most important of issues: the education of their children, and you are telling me that the entire basis for that, there was no evidence to support it?
WRAY: Well, I want to be clear, we, the FBI, as I said, were not and did not investigate people for exercising their First Amendment right—
Kiley fluidly brings it back to the discussion of AG Garland’s memo, and throws Wray even more off guard.
KILEY: Should Attorney General Garland rescind the memo?
WRAY: I’m sorry…
KILEY: Should Attorney General Garland rescind that memo?
WRAY: Oh, that’s a question for the Attorney General.
KILEY: Do you believe he should?
WRAY: Again, that’s a question for the Attorney General.
KILEY: Do you believe that the Attorney General should apologize to parents who are the subject of that memorandum?
WRAY: I’m not going to speak to that.
Kiley concluded his questioning by bringing it back to the actions of the FBI, who went along with the weaponization while saying they were just doing their job.
KILEY: Will you apologize for the FBI’s own role?
WRAY: I think the FBI conducted itself the way it should here, which is that we’ve considered, continued to follow our long-standing rules and have not changed anything in response to that memo.
The entire exchange is below, and should receive more exposure—if for no other reason than to remind citizens that this corrupt arm of government needs to be defunded or divested.