Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday he is willing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) brought up the issue during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, noting that he is also a member of the judiciary panel led by Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) that has oversight of the Justice Department.
“My chairman, Mr. Jordan, has asked me to ask you about a letter he sent back in January, asking you to appear before his committee. He has not gotten a response to that letter,” Cline said. The congressman asked if he could “get a commitment” from Garland to respond to Jordan in the near future.
“Of course I’m going to appear before the House Judiciary Committee,” Garland said in response.
The attorney general further explained that he believes “there are discussions about scheduling that have been going on” and stressed that he did not think there were any problems in those talks.
Cline again noted there has been no formal response to the letter and pressed for a commitment to appear, after which Garland started, “I am willing. More than willing.”
Jordan sent a letter to Garland in mid-January that said several requests for documents and information, dating back to before Republicans took control of the House this session of Congress, remained outstanding.
There are a number of issues House Judiciary Republicans are looking into, including immigration law, the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, and the treatment of journalists.
In early February, Jordan announced subpoenas against certain Biden administration officials, including Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, seeking documents over the alleged targeting of parents at school board meetings.
The Justice Department issued a combative response, saying the subpoenas were “premature” because the agency “offered to engage with the Committee and provide information voluntarily.”
The House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government issued a preliminary staff report this month that found, based on materials obtained through the subpoenas, that federal law enforcement had “no legitimate basis” for Garland’s memo in October 2021 sharing plans to have the FBI, U.S. attorneys, and others to meet and strategize about addressing threats to school officers around the country.
Republicans in particular have raised concerns that the Biden administration was inappropriately targeting parents speaking out at school board meetings. During his exchange on Wednesday with Cline, Garland insisted the memo was “aimed at violence and threats of violence” and not “aimed at parents protesting to their school boards.”