A Justice Department whistleblower has provided Congress evidence that FBI counterterrorism assets were involved in the investigation of parents protesting school policies, prompting a key GOP lawmaker to question the "accuracy and completeness" of Attorney General Merrick Garland's recent testimony.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, released an unclassified internal FBI email from last month showing that the bureau's counterterrorism chief, Timothy R. Langan Jr., through a deputy, jointly sent instructions with the criminal division chief to FBI officials to use a "threat tag" to track any complaints involving parents and school officials.
"We ask that your offices apply the threat tag to investigations and assessments of threats specifically directed against school board administrators, board members, teachers, and staff," the email stated. "The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a national level and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement partners at all levels."
You can review the document here:
Jordan wrote Garland saying the email appeared to conflict with the attorney general's testimony last month. "You testified that the Department and its components were not using counterterrorism statutes and resources to target concerned parents at school board meetings," Jordan wrote.
"We have now received a disclosure from a Department whistleblower calling into question the accuracy and completeness of your testimony," Jordan wrote. "... This disclosure provides specific evidence that federal law enforcement operationalized counterterrorism tools at the behest of a left-wing special interest group against concerned parents." You can read his letter here:
Jordan ask Garland to amend his testimony or clarify why the FBI sent the instructions.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
But an FBI official told Just the News that "threat tags" are commonly used inside the bureau in recent years to help criminal and counterterrorism probes track trends and statistical evidence. "The creation of a threat tag in no way changes the long-standing requirements for opening an investigation, nor does it represent a shift in how the FBI prioritizes threats," the official said.
The official also sought to distance the FBI from Garland's original instructions to investigate parental threats and the school board association letter that suggested protesting parents might be domestic terrorists. The school board group has since rescinded the letter and apologized.
"The FBI has never been in the business of investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meetings, and we are not going to start now," the official said. "The FBI's mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. These are dual and simultaneous and not one at the expense of the other."
Current and former FBI officials said the email cited by Jordan appeared to be an aberration from normal FBI practices. Usually, they said, the FBI sends out such instructions in what is known in bureau parlance as an "electronic communication" and cites the case number of an investigation. But this instruction was sent out over normal email and even included a colorful logo header, which they said was not typical.