Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas reacted to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s apparent effort to stop information leaks about his office after he instructed DOJ staff to abide by prohibitions on communicating to members of Congress.
In his letter, Garland cited the key Justice Manual clause and said that he was reminding “all Department officials of our established regulations involving contacts between the Justice Department and Congress.” OLA (Office of Legislative Affairs) will oversee or coordinate communications between the Department and Congress, according to that clause.
“No Department employee may interact with Senators, Representatives, congressional committees, or congressional employees, save as permitted by this chapter, without prior coordination, consultation, and permission by OLA.”
Cotton sent a message contradicting Garland’s letter to DOJ staff.
“If you call my office to report the inappropriate politicization of the Department of Justice by Merrick Garland and Joe Biden, you are protected by federal law, regardless of what this letter claims,” he said.
Cotton criticized Garland in October 2021, calling him to “resign in shame” for ordering the FBI to look into and perhaps target “parents at school board meetings.”
Cotton criticized Garland for using “news reports” and a letter that came from the National School Boards Association to support the Justice Department statement.
“You keep referencing news articles, and that is the most well-known article that everybody in America has ever seen. That is in reference to Scott Smith, whose daughter, age 15, was raped. Because it would have conflicted with their transgender policy during Pride Month, the Loudoun County school board hid the fact that she had been raped in a restroom by a guy dressed as a girl.”
And Scott Smith received much condemnation for trying to protect his daughter’s rights by appearing before a school board. “Judge, can you please extend an apology to Scott Smith and his 15-year-old daughter?” Cotton enquired.
“Senator, anybody whose kid was raped—the most heinous crime I can think of—is unquestionably entitled and protected by the First Amendment to protest this to their school board,” said Garland.
Garland consistently insisted that the “news items” on which the October 4 memo was based were distinct from the news reports cited in the NSBA letter, while using the latter to support the order to the FBI.
Although the letter uses Smith as just one of the examples of individual behavior that could lead to actions resembling “hate crimes” or “domestic terrorism,” Cotton persisted that Smith was cited by the school board association as a domestic terrorist, and that Cotton now knew that letter and those reports served as the foundation for her directive.
Garland again rejected Cotton: “No, senator. That’s incorrect.”
“This is dishonorable. Judge, this is shameful.” Cotton concluded his interrogation with, “This testimony, your instructions, and your behavior are disgraceful. I’m glad you’re not a member of the Supreme Court. Judge, you need to resign in shame.”