Sen. Tom Cotton tore into Attorney General Merrick Garland during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, telling him to ‘resign in disgrace.’
‘Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court,’ the Arkansas Republican said, bringing up the touchy subject of Garland’s failed confirmation to the high court in 2016. President Obama appointed him and then-Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked his confirmation because it was an election year.
‘You should resign in disgrace,’ Cotton told Garland.
The senator was questioning Garland over a directive the Justice Department issued earlier this month promising more law enforcement resources for schools amid a rise in tensions and threats at school board meetings over matters like critical race theory, coronavirus precautions and transgender bathroom policies.
Cotton asked about a Loudon County father who was dragged out of a school board meeting and arrested as he tried to tell the room his 15-year-old daughter had been raped by a boy dressed in a skirt at Stone Bridge High School in the girls’ bathroom.
Sen. Tom Cotton questioned AG Merrick Garland over a DOJ memo promising to address a ‘rise in crime’ at school board meetings
Scott Smith says Loudoun County schools went out of their way to protect the child – ‘a sexual predator’. The school, which Smith accused of covering up the incident to protect its new policy allowing students to use the bathroom they identify with, still has not commented.
The incident reportedly took place on May 28 and Scott was arrested on June 22.
Two months after the incident, the boy – who has not been named because he is a juvenile – was arrested for forced sodomy.
And in October, he was arrested again on different charges for allegedly assaulting a different girl, at a different school. He is now in a juvenile detention center.
‘Do you apologize to Scott Smith and his 15-year-old daughter, judge?’ Cotton asked Garland. Cotton said that controversy had prompted the DOJ’s stepping in.
Garland went on to say rape is ‘the most horrific crime I can imagine’ and that Scott is ‘entitled and protected by the First Amendment.’
‘This is shameful. Your testimony, your directive is shameful. Your performance is shameful,’ Cotton shot back.
At the meeting on June 22, Loudoun County School Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the school had never had any form of incident inside a bathroom or locker room involving a transgender child.
‘To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms,’ he said first.
But a newly unearthed email reveals that on May 28, the day the alleged rape happened, he sent this email to colleagues confirming that it had been reported. ‘This afternoon, a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom,’ it read.
The Justice Department’s memo promising to step up enforcement against violence in school board meetings came after the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden asking for help. The letter claimed that clashes between the school board and parents could amount to domestic terrorism.
The attorney general then applauded the letter, while calling for the FBI to investigate such parents.
But weeks later, the NSBA apologized for comparing parents to domestic terrorists.
‘As you all know, there has been extensive media and other attention recently around our letter to President Biden regarding threats and acts of violence against school board members,’ the NSBA wrote in a memo.
‘We wanted to write to you directly to address this matter.’
‘On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter,’ the NSBA said, noting that ‘there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.’
The NSBA had called for the use of measures like the PATRIOT Act, which is typically used to address terrorism.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Garland if he had any ‘second thoughts’ about his directive.
‘I assume you’re going to revoke your extremely divisive memo that you said was instigated because of that letter?’ Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also asked.
‘The letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association’s concern of violence or threats of violence. It alters some of the language in the letter … that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum,’ Garland said.
Garland said that he was not only concerned about school boards, but a ‘rising tide’ in violence against judges, prosecutors, election administrators, and others.
Garland’s memo, which prompted backlash from Republicans, promised to address the ‘rise in criminal conduct’ from parents directed at schools.
‘The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur and prosecute them when appropriate,’ the memo read.
‘In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.’
Last week during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Garland denied that the memo had anything to do with the Loudon County controversy, and argued nothing in the department’s memo infringed on free speech rights.