U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, this week questioned Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland in a committee hearing on oversight of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In his first line of questioning, Sen. Cruz asked about the DOJ’s recent memorandum directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to pursue parents who oppose critical race theory (CRT) in schools and a possible conflict of interest from AG Garland’s son-in-law, who reportedly runs an educational organization that sells CRT to schools. AG Garland refused to give a conclusive answer when asked about the memorandum’s underlying letter and whether he sought an ethics opinion regarding his son-in-law’s possible conflict of interest.

In his second line of questioning, Sen. Cruz pressed AG Garland on gain of function research at the Wuhan lab that was funded by the National Health Institute (NIH) and whether the DOJ will investigate Dr. Anthony Fauci for denying that fact under oath. Finally, Sen. Cruz asked AG Garland whether he agreed with President Biden’s confirmation that public servants such as police officers who defy his administration’s COVID mandate should be fired. AG Garland refused to give a conclusive answer to either question. Read excerpts of his questioning below.


In his first line of questioning, Sen. Cruz asked:

“For eight years under Barack Obama, the Department of Justice was politicized and weaponized. When you came before this committee in your confirmation hearing, you promised things would be different. I asked you specifically, ‘Will you commit to this committee that under your leadership, the Department of Justice will not target the political opponents of this administration?’ Here was your answer: ‘Absolutely. It’s totally inappropriate for the Department to target any individual because of their politics or their position in a campaign.’ That was your promise just a few months ago. I’m sorry to say you have broken that promise. There is a difference between law and politics, and [Attorney] General Garland. You know this difference between law and politics. Law is based on facts. It is impartial, it is not used as a tool of political retribution. This memo was not law. This memo was politics. On Wednesday, September 29, the National School Board Association wrote a letter to the president asking the president to use the Department of Justice to target parents that were upset at critical race theory, that were upset at mask mandates in schools, to target them as domestic terrorists. On the face of the letter, the letter was in repeated consultation with the White House, in explicit political consultation with the White House. That was on Wednesday, September 29. Five days later, on Monday, so right after the weekend, boom, you pop out a memo, giving them exactly what they want. Now, by the way, I understand that in politics, that happens all the time. An important special interest wants something, sir, yes, sir. We’re going to listen to him. Let me ask you something, General Garland. In the letter, which you told the House of Representatives was the basis for this abusive memo targeting parents, how many incidents are cited in that memo?”

AG Garland replied:

“I have to look back through the memo.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“You don’t know how many of them were violent?”

AG Garland replied:

“Again, the general report-”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“How many of them were violent, do you know?”

AG Garland replied:

“I don’t know.”

[…]

Sen. Cruz continued:

“Okay. 15 of the 20 on the face of it are not violent. They’re not threats of violence. They’re parents who are unhappy. Yet, miraculously, when you write a memo, the opening line of your memo, ‘In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence.’ You know what? You didn’t look, and nobody on your staff looked. Did you even look up the 20 instances?”

AG Garland replied:

“As I testified, the decision to send a memo is for an assessment-”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“Did you look up the 20 instances? Did anyone on your staff look them up?

AG Garland replied:

“I don’t know the answer. But it’s not all of the memo.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“But of course you don’t, and General, there’s a reason. Look, you started your career as a law clerk to Justice Brennan. You’ve had many law clerks during the year, during your time as a judge. I was a clerk to Chief Justice Rehnquist. I’ll tell you, what if I drafted an opinion for the Chief Justice and walked in, and it said there’s a disturbing pattern of violence. ‘Well, Ted, how do you know that?’ ‘Well, I got an amicus brief here who claims it.’ You would fire a law clerk who did that. You’re the Attorney General of the United States. This was not a tweet you sent. This is a memo to the Federal Bureau of Investigations saying, ‘Go investigate parents as domestic terrorists.’”

AG Garland replied:

“That is not what the memo says at all.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“Is it what the letter says?”

AG Garland replied:

“I don’t care what the letter says.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“You don’t care? You said it was the basis of your memo. You testified under oath before the House of Representatives [that] the letter was the basis of your memo. Now you don’t care about the letter?”

AG Garland replied:

“The letter and public reports of violence and threats of violence. My memo says nothing about domestic terrorism, says nothing about parents committing any such things. My memo is an attempt to get an assessment of whether there is a problem out there that the federal government needs to re-”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“The letter on its face says the actions of the parents could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism.”

AG Garland replied:

“That is wrong.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“And asks the president to use the Patriot Act in regard to domestic terrorism routed at parents, and this was the basis of your memo. The Department of Justice – when you’re directing the FBI to engage in law enforcement, you’re not behaving as a political operative. Because a political ally of the President says, ‘Hey, go attack these parents, because we don’t like what they’re saying.’ Department of Justice – you did no independent research on what was happening, did you?”

AG Garland replied:

“The memo has nothing to do with partisan-”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“Did you do independent research?”

AG Garland replied:

“The memo has nothing to do with politics.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“Okay, you’re not answering that question.”

[…]

Sen. Cruz continued:

“I’ll tell you what, the NSBA is so embarrassed of this letter, they’ve apologized for it and retracted it, but you don’t apparently have the same willingness to apologize and retract what you did. Let me ask you something else. A big part of this letter is that they’re upset about parents not wanting critical race theory taught. Your son-in-law makes a very substantial sum of money from a company involved in the teaching of critical race theory. Did you seek and receive a decision from an ethics adviser at the Department of Justice before you carried out an action that would have a predictable financial benefit to your son-in-law?”

AG Garland replied:

“This memorandum is aimed at violence and threats of violence.”

[…]

Sen. Cruz continued:

“Did you seek an ethics opinion? Judge, you know how to ask questions and answer them. Did you seek an ethics opinion?”

AG Garland replied:

“You asked me whether I sought an ethics opinion about something that would have a predictable effect on something this has no predictable effect in the way that you’re talking about.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“If critical race theory is taught in more schools, does your son-in-law make more money?”

[…]

AG Garland replied:

“I’m telling you that if I thought there was any reason to believe there was a conflict of interest, I would do that. But I cannot-”

[…]

Sen. Cruz concluded:

“Let the record reflect the Attorney General refuses to answer whether he sought an ethics opinion. And apparently ethics are not a terribly high priority in the Biden Justice Department.”

In his second round of questioning, Sen. Cruz asked:

“Are you willing to enforce the law fairly against people who are political allies of the president? At a Senate hearing in May, Dr. Fauci said, ‘The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of neurology,’ that was under oath, under testimony. On October 20th, the NIH principal deputy director in writing directly contradicted it. Those two statements cannot be true. As you know, section 1001 of title 18 makes it a federal crime to knowingly make false statements to Congress. Is the Department of Justice investigating Dr. Fauci for lying to Congress, and will you appoint a special prosecutor to do so?”

[…]

AG Garland replied:

“We don’t comment on criminal investigations or other investigations.”

Sen. Cruz asked:

“Amazingly, when it’s the political enemies of the administration, you comment loudly in a memo. Let me ask one other question. President Biden recently said in a national townhall that police officers who declined to get vaccinated should be fired. Do you agree with President Biden on that?”

AG Garland replied:

“I think all police officers – look, I stood on stage at the mall where the 700 and some police officers died this year were commemorated.”

Sen. Cruz asked:

“Let me try again. Do you agree with the president? It’s a yes or no. You’ve asked questions as a judge, you know how to get a yes or no. Do you agree with the President?”

AG Garland replied:

“A large percentage of the law officers who died this year died from COVID-19.”

Sen. Cruz asked:

“Do you agree with President Biden that police officers who have declined to get vaccinated should be fired? Yes or no.”

[…]

Sen. Cruz continued:

“In Chicago, a third of the police officers did not file their vaccination status. Do you think Chicago should fire a third of its police officers when murder rates and crime rates are skyrocketing?”

AG Garland replied:

“This is a determination that the city of Chicago will have to make.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“So, do you agree with the President? The President said yes. Do you agree with him? You’re the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Do you agree with Joe Biden saying fire police officers despite skyrocketing crime rate?”

AG Garland replied:

“That is a question that is one of state law there and will have to be decided by the state.”

Sen. Cruz concluded:

“You have no view on whether we should fire cops?”

One thought on “Cruz grills Garland: ‘Apparently ethics are not a terribly high priority in the Biden Justice Department’

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