Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton responded to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s apparent attempt to prevent anyone from leaking information about his department after he told DOJ employees to obey restrictions about speaking to members of Congress.
Garland wrote that he was reminding “all Department personnel of our existing policies regarding communications between the Justice Department and Congress,” citing the central Justice Manual provision (JM 1-8 200.) That provision states, “Communications between the Department and Congress … will be managed or coordinated by OLA (Office of Legislative Affairs.)”
The provision continues, “Except as provided in this chapter, no Department employee may communicate with Senators, Representatives, congressional committees, or congressional staff without advance coordination, consultation, and approval by OLA.”
Cotton fired off a message to DOJ employees countering Garland’s memo.
“DOJ employees, take notice: No matter what this memo says, you are protected by federal law if you contact my office to blow the whistle on the improper politicization of the Department of Justice by Merrick Garland and Joe Biden,” he asserted.
DOJ employees, take notice: No matter what this memo says, you are protected by federal law if you contact my office to blow the whistle on the improper politicization of the Department of Justice by Merrick Garland and Joe Biden. https://t.co/agu5RJwos8
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) August 31, 2022
In October 2021, Cotton blasted Garland, telling him he should “resign in disgrace” for directing the FBI to investigate and potentially target “parents at school board meetings.”
Cotton ripped Garland over the basis for a Justice Department memo, which Garland had justified by pointing to “news reports” and a letter from the National School Boards Association.
“You keep citing news reports and that’s the most prominent news report that anyone in America has seen. That refers to Scott Smith, whose 15-year-old daughter was raped. She was raped in a bathroom by a boy wearing girl’s clothes and the Loudoun County school board covered it up because it would’ve interfered with their transgender policy during Pride Month,” Cotton said.
“And that man, Scott Smith, because he went to a school board and tried to defend his daughter’s rights, was condemned internationally. Do you apologize to Scott Smith and his 15-year-old daughter, judge?” Cotton asked.
Garland responded: “Senator, anyone whose child was raped – the most horrific crime I can imagine – is certainly entitled and protected by the First Amendment to protest to their school board about this.”
Garland repeatedly denied that the “news reports” that served as the basis for the October 4 memo were not the same news reports referenced in the NSBA letter, despite also referring to the letter to justify the directive to the FBI.
“But he was cited by the school board association as a domestic terrorist which we now know that letter and those reports were the basis for your directive,” Cotton pressed, though the letter uses Smith as just one example of individual behavior that could give rise to actions resembling “domestic terrorism” or “hate crimes.”
Garland denied Cotton again: “No, senator. That’s wrong.”
“This is shameful. Judge, this is shameful,” Cotton said, ending his period of questioning. “This testimony, your directive, your performance is shameful. Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace, judge.”
Tim Pearce contributed to this report.