WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) just sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients about the Biden Administration’s use of counterterrorism and criminal tools against parents exercising their First Amendment rights at school board meetings. The letter renews the Committee’s outstanding requests for documents and communications from Mary C. Wall, a Senior Advisor to the President who served as the liaison between the White House and Executive Branch officials across multiple agencies, as well as the conduit between the White House and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Although evidence shows the White House was heavily involved in the Administration’s targeting of parents, Executive Branch agencies have declined to provide any documents pertaining to the White House.
Since October 2021, Judiciary Committee Republicans have sent over one hundred letters to Biden Administration officials requesting answers about how the Administration used federal counterterrorism resources against American parents. Whistleblowers have disclosed how, shortly after Attorney General Garland’s October 4 memorandum, the FBI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Divisions created a specific “threat tag” for school board-related threats and even opened investigations into parents simply for speaking out on behalf of their children. The Attorney General’s directive followed a letter from the NSBA to President Biden urging him to weaponize the Patriot Act against parents. Emails later showed how the Biden White House had advance knowledge of this letter and its contents and raised no objection.
On February 3, 2023, the Committee subpoenaed the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Education (DOE) for documents and communications concerning the White House’s involvement in this misuse of counterterrorism and criminal tools, and so far, both DOJ and DOE have refused to provide any relevant information.
Excerpts of the letter:
“The Committee has reason to believe that communications between the EOP and the relevant Executive Branch agencies exist and that these records are instrumental in fully understanding the Executive Branch’s actions in this matter. Based on documents and testimonial evidence received to date, it appears that Mary C. Wall, a Senior Advisor to the President, was the conduit between the White House and Executive Branch officials across multiple agencies, as well as the conduit between the White House and the NSBA.
“For example, we know from publicly available documents that Ms. Wall asked the NSBA on September 21, 2021 if she could ‘take a look at the letter [to President Biden] in advance of [its] release’ to inform her discussions with other White House officials and DOJ on September 22. In this same communication with the NSBA, Ms. Wall mentioned coordination with DOJ. Specifically, Ms. Wall wrote to NSBA’s then-Interim CEO and Executive Director Chip Slaven:
‘Is there any way we can take a look at the letter in advance of release? In specific, I’m meeting w colleagues from other WH offices and DOJ tomorrow morning to see if there might be any options we can pursue here, so if you have concrete recommendations in your letter (e.g., the threat assessment you mentioned), would be good to know so I can include in discussions.’
“In response, Mr. Slaven sent Ms. Wall a detailed summary of the contents of the letter, which included specific language about the PATRIOT Act and the use of domestic terrorism tools. Although the Committee does not know how Ms. Wall used this information, the final letter sent to President Biden included the language about the PATRIOT Act and use of domestic terrorism tools in the context of addressing threats at school board meetings. Despite Ms. Wall’s email to the NSBA referencing communications with DOJ, it has not produced any communications between Ms. Wall and its employees.
“Additionally, although DOE has produced some communications between Ms. Wall and its officials, it has redacted the entirety of the correspondence. These redactions—which DOE has made without citing any claim of privilege—include not only Ms. Wall’s portion of the communications but DOE employees’ responses as well. These redactions impede the Committee’s ability to understand the nature of communications between Executive Branch agencies.
“In short, our oversight has shown that the White House had advance notice of the request from the NSBA for federal law enforcement to use counterterrorism and criminal tools with respect to school board-related threats, and that the White House discussed these matters with both DOJ and DOE. Both agencies have declined, so far, to provide information concerning the White House’s involvement in this misuse of counterterrorism and criminal tools.
“For the Committee to fully and effectively fulfill its oversight of how the NSBA’s letter to President Biden could result in the FBI misusing counterterrorism and criminal resources to investigate American moms and dads, it is apparent that the Committee must obtain documents and communications in the custody and control of the EOP. We therefore write to reiterate our January 17 requests. However, as an accommodation to the EOP, the Committee is willing to narrow its requests initially to those involving Ms. Wall. Accordingly, we ask that you produce the following material for the period of January 20, 2021, to the present:
- All documents and communications sent or received by Mary C. Wall referring to or relating to the NSBA and school board-related threats or parental involvement in school board meetings;
- All documents and communications between Mary C. Wall and employees or officials of any Executive Branch department or agency referring or relating to the NSBA and school board-related threats or parental involvement in school board meetings;
- All documents and communications between Mary C. Wall and employees or officials of the Department of Justice referring or relating to the Attorney General’s memorandum dated October 4, 2021; and
- All documents and communications between Mary C. Wall and employees of the NSBA referring or relating to the NSBA’s September 29, 2021, letter to President Biden.”
Read the full letter to White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients here.
Reprinted with Permission from – House of Representatives Judiciary Committee by – Chairman Jim Jordan
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