tv The Faulkner Focus FOX News October 27, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT
about a conversation that i'm not -- >> i'm stunned that you can't recall that. so let's talk about afghanistan. the secretary -- undersecretary for defense policy, mr. kael says, isis-k poses a short term external threat al qaeda could launch attacks outside afghanistan within a year or two. do you agree with that? >> i agree that al qaeda has always presented and continues to present a persistent threat to the united states homeland. >> the question is what's changed? you say always. has any recent event changed the likelihood of an attack? >> i don't know. >> you don't know that we withdrew from afghanistan. >> i know we withdrew.
i don't no if it will increase the risk from al qaeda or not. >> you are the attorney general of the united states. due to the lack of ability to have eyes and ears on the ground there was testimony and the unreliability of the taliban that an attack on the united states within six months or a year is far more likely after a withdrawal, you're not aware he said that? >> the job of the justice department and f.b.i. is to protect against those attacks in the homeland. >> is that a dynamic of our withdrawal? do you trust the taliban to look at al qaeda >> i don't trust them. >> they will not work with us regarding containing the al qaeda/isis threat. are you aware of that? >> i think there has been inconsistent statements. >> they just literally said that. >> there have been inconsistent
statements but their statements are not anything that we can rely on. >> when they tell you to your face we aren't going to help you, do you think they are kidding? do you think they will really tell us? >> isis-k, al qaeda and associated forces continue to be. >> we're talking about the taliban. the taliban has told the united states they will not work with our counter terrorism forces when it comes to al qaeda or isis. what response should we have regarding the taliban when they say that? >> i think we have a number of different tools available >> like what? >> economic sanctions, they need money from the united states states for humanitarian and other reasons. >> the leverage over the taliban is whether or not we give them money? >> the job of the justice department is protecting using the f.b.i. and the national security agencies.
>> the national security division is part of our counter terrorism operation, right? >> it is one. >> has anybody from the national security division briefed you about the increased likelihood of attack emanating from afghanistan after our withdrawal? >> every day i'm briefed by the f.b.i. >> my question is specific. has anybody briefed you about the increased likelihood of an attack emanating from afghanistan by isis or al qaeda because of our complete withdrawal? >> we are worried about the risk of attack by -- >> one thing to be worried. has anybody told you the likelihood of an attack is greater because of our withdrawal or not. >> different views about the degrees of likelihood. that doesn't change our posture. >> it doesn't change your posture if you go from a possibility of being attacked to a six month to a year time window of being attacked. >> we have asked for
substantial additional funds for our counter terrorism operations. >> is that in light of the withdrawal from afghanistan? >> in light of a lot of changing circumstances in the world. >> let me put a fine point on this. secretary wray has told the world that isis and al qaeda in afghanistan present a threat to our homeland. the taliban has told us they are not going to help us when it comes to policing these groups. the department of defense has said we are six months to a year away from a possible attack by isis and al qaeda. and just seems to me there is not a sense of urgency about this. >> there is a sense of urgency. >> what have you done specifically -- specifically what have you done since our withdrawal in afghanistan to deal with this new threat?
>> we have strengthened and increased the efforts of our joint terrorism task forces. i have met with them. >> literally what have you done. put it in writing. write down what you've done. >> i'll be happy to have our staff assess. >> senator whitehouse. >> thank you, welcome attorney general garland. two topics. the first is executive privilege. we've been through a rather bleak period with regard to executive privilege. i think you would call it the anything goes period in which any assertion of executive privilege no matter how fanciful or preposterous was essentially allowed to stand in very significant departure from the law that has been out there for years regarding executive
privilege. and at the same time that the substance of executive privilege was being expanded beyond recognition, the procedure for evaluating executive procedure determinations was completely ignored and this is the procedure that was established by president reagan's white house. so we now have a situation in which there is very substantial destruction and disarray in the area of executive privilege determinations. and as you know, under the reagan memo, the department of justice had a roll kind of as an arbiter to be the honest broker between whatever executive agency was objecting and whatever congressional committee was pursuing information. that role completely fell apart in the last administration and it needs to be rebuilt in some
predictable fashion. the role of the courts has become highly problematic because delay is very often -- the courts are now a haven for delay with respect to executive privilege determinations. i think we need to look at that as well. senator kennedy and i had a hearing on the executive privilege problem in the court subcommittee. the department of justice wasn't represented at that hearing. i would like to ask you to detail somebody from the department of justice to talk to senator kennedy and me about this executive privilege problem and work with us on trying to figure out a solution making the role of the department of justice more clear and transparent and perhaps emotion bodying it in
rule, regulation or law and try to figure out how to accelerate the courts a way to get quicker decisions. otherwise delay and we lose not because we're wrong but because we're delayed. would you have somebody be our point of contact on that please? i don't mean detail on our payroll but as a point of contact. >> absolutely, of course. >> great. thank you. next i've been pursuing the question of the department's investigation into january 6 since pretty early days starting with a letter in january 8th that asked about the resources being deployed into this investigation and whether a task force -- prosecution task force was being set up and so forth and another let february 24th with regard to domestic extremist, violence groups, potential role. we've learned a little bit more now and learned there was a lot
of money sloshing around in the background behind the january 6 rally and behind the raid, the riot, in the capitol. for instance, we know that the bradley foundation, which is a big funder, gave money to turning point usa and to public interest legal foundation and it gets more interesting because turningpoint usa has a twin called turningpoint action, which also got money from the judicial crisis network to support the so-called italy gate, the debunked italy gate theory. at the same time the public interest legal foundation had as its director mr. eastman cranking out his fanciful memo for president trump how to overturn the election.
the judicial crisis network is the same thing from the honest elections project bringing a fanciful case in pennsylvania regarding election fraud and the judicial crisis network was also funding the republican attorney general's association making robocalls to get people to come to the riot. i don't know what's going on behind all that but i hope the due diligence of the f.b.i. is being deployed not just to the characters who trespassed in the capitol that day and who engaged in violent acts, but that you are taking a look you would properly take at any case involving players behind the scenes, funders of the enterprise and so forth in this matter as well and there has been no decision to say we're limiting this case just to the people in the building that day. we're not going to take a serious look at anybody behind it. >> i'm very limited as to what
i can say. i have a criminal investigation going forward. >> please tell me it has been constrained only to people in the capitol. >> the investigation is being conducted by the prosecutors in the u.s. attorney's office and f.b.i. field office. we have not constrained them in any way. >> great. the old doctrine of follow the money, which is a well-established principle of prosecution is alive and well. >> fair to say that all investigative techniques that you are familiar and some maybe that you're not familiar with because they post date your time are all being pursued in this matter. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. senator cornyn. >> good morning, mr. attorney general. on september 29th, 2021 as you know the national school board association wrote a letter to the president asking him to
address the disruptions, confrontations that we've seen at local school boards across the country. parents expressing their concerns about not only the curriculum but also just generally the education of their children in public schools. would you agree that parents have a fund mental right to be involved in their children's education? >> absolutely. this is the job of parents to be involved and this is the role the first amendment to protect their ability to be involved. that's why my memo begins by saying that we respect the right to spirited debate about curriculum, about school policies and about anything like that. >> so it is not just a good idea, it is actually protected by the constitution of the united states, would you agree? >> absolutely. >> on october 4th, a few days
later less than a week later after the national school board association wrote this letter, the justice department issued the memo that has already been discussed. why did this rise to the level of a federal concern as opposed to being addressed at the local and state level? >> this arises out of a repeated reports of violence and threats of violence. not only with respect to school boards and school officials and teachers, but as i mentioned earlier, also with respect to secretaries of state and election administrators, judges, prosecutors, senators, members of congress. the justice department has two roles. we assist state and local law enforcement in all ways and we enforce federal laws which
prohibit threats of violence in -- by telephone, by email. >> you as a long time federal judge with a distinguished legal career, you understand that not every crime, assuming it is a crime, is a federal crime, correct, >> absolutely. >> unless there is a nexus to interstate commerce they are in the purview of state and local authorities, correct? >> we have authority with respect to the mail, the internet. >> let me give you an example. if somebody says to the school board member if you do that, i'm going to meet you outside and punch you in the nose. is that a federal offense? >> no that's not a federal offense. >> i agree. why in the world would you cite the national security division in this memo is being one of
the appropriate entities of the department of justice to investigate and perhaps prosecute these offenses? >> my memo itself doesn't mention the national security division. it is mentioned in another memo that was released by the department. the national security division like all the other law enforcement components cooperates with and is involved in discussions about how to go forward on different kinds of matters. they were involved, for example, in the election threats. they were involved in the threats against judges and prosecutors. they were involved in the hate crimes threats cases. a natural part of our internal analysis. >> let me ask you, did you see the national school board association letter to president biden before you issued your memorandum on october 4th? >> yes, i did. that was part of the reason. their expression at the beginning of that memorandum. >> they raised some of the
concerns that you voiced here today, correct? >> they raised some of them. they raised others that i don't agree with and were not included in my memo. >> well, you are aware that on october 22nd, the national school board association apologized for its letter. you are aware of that, aren't you, sir? >> i am. >> it went on to say we regret and apologize for the letter. there was no justification for some of the language in the letter. they acknowledge that the voices of parents should be and must continue to be heard and when it comes to decisions about their children's education, health and safety. you did not apologize for your memorandum of october 4th even though the national school board association did. why didn't you rescind that memorandum and apologize for your -- for the memorandum?
>> the core responsibility of the justice department as i said in my opening is protecting americans from violence and threats of violence. >> but you just said not every act of violence is a federal crime, correct? >> right and not every bit of street crime and the kind of violence that we've been talking about earlier today is also a federal crime but we assist state and locals to help them in their investigations of these kind of matters. every single day in non-federal matters we're partners with our state and local partners. >> mr. attorney general, you have acknowledged that parents have a constitutional right to be heard on the education of their children in public schools. can you imagine the sort of intimidation, the sort of bullying impact that a memorandum from the department of justice would have and how
that would chill the willingness of parents to exercise their rights under threat of federal prosecution? did you consider the chilling impact your memorandum would have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? >> the only thing this memorandum is about is violence and threats of violence. and it opens with a statement -- >> my question is did you consider the chilling effect this would have on parents' constitutional rights? >> to say that the justice department is against violence and threats of violence. >> did you consider the chilling effect your memorandum might have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? i think you can answer that yes or no. >> what i considered what i wanted the memorandum to assure people that we recognize the rights of spirited debate. >> mr. attorney general you are a very intelligent and accomplished lawyer and judge. you can answer the question did
you consider the chilling effect that this sort of threat of federal prosecution would have of parents exercise of their constitutional rights to be involved in their children's education >> i don't believe it's reasonable to read this memorandum of chilling everyone's rights. it's there threat of violence and the constitutional right to make arguments about your children's education. >> senators are going back and forth for votes during this time and >> let the record reflect the attorney general refused to answer the question. >> let the record reflect the senator from texas is allowed to go over his allotted time. senator klobuchar. >> just to confirm something, mr. attorney general, can you confirm to this committee if you did earlier before the house judiciary committee the purpose of the memo that you were just discussing with senator cornyn is to have
meetings to discuss whether there is a problem, to discuss strategies, to discuss whether local law enforcement needs assistance, or doesn't need assistance? is that the purpose of it? >> yes. thank you for making that point, senator. i say that in the memo. that the purpose of the memo is to convene meetings with federal, state, and local, tribal leaders and to facilitate discussions of strategies for addressing threats, to assess the question and to open lines of communication about those threats. >> thank you. i want to move to some other threats and that is a hearing that actually center blunt and i had yesterday. a bipartisan hearing. we both called witnesses before the rules committee. and it was with both republican and democratic election officials, the attorney general of arizona, a republican local official in philadelphia. and they told stories that
horrified senators on both sides of the aisle. the philadelphia election official commissioner, local election official had been sent letters basically saying that they were going to kill him and his three kids naming the kids as well as putting his house and his address out there. the attorney general of arizona received a voicemail saying i'm a hunter and i think you should be hunted. you will never be safe in arizona again. could you talk about what is going on with threats against election workers and by the way, we had the republican secretary of state from kentucky talked about the fact that it has been difficult. they are losing in many jurisdictions across the country they don't have enough election workers because people
are afraid. we don't have to discuss at length where these threats are coming from. i just want to have election officials and have a functioning democracy. can you provide an update on the election threats task force and talk about the kind of threats we're seeing to election officials? >> yes, senator. very much like the circumstances with respect to the school boards when the national school board association wrote us a letter advising of threats of violence and violence. earlier this year, we received communications from the national association of secretaries of state and the national association of election administrators raising concerns about threats of violence and violence in that area. in that -- soon there after i met virtually unfortunately because of the pandemic, with a large number of election administrators and secretary of
states where they recounted these -- the kind of threats that you are talking about. and that led us to establish a task force which again coordinated efforts between the federal law enforcement agencies, u.s. attorneys offices and state and local law enforcement across the country. it is the case that many of those kind of threats can be handled by state and local law enforcement and should be where they are capable of doing that. the federal government has an important role, as you say, in protecting our democracy and protecting threats against public officials. so that is an ongoing task force evaluating threats in that particular area. >> thank you. to another area. chair of the antitrust subcommittee i urged the justice department -- we have a
nomination hearing for jonathan cantor that seems to be moving ahead and i support the division's enforcement efforts including i know they are preparing for 18 trials which is the most in decades. and could you talk about the antitrust budgets senator grassley and i passed a bill with support of the members of this committee to add some additional resources to the antitrust division. we've held numerous very iminformative hearings with regard to antitrust. >> the justice department is very much committed, as i said, a key focus of our attention, antitrust enforcement because it is essential for consumer well-being and for the well-being of our citizens. we have aggressively moved in this area. we've already stopped a merger of two of the top three largest international insurance brokers. we have, as you say, continued
-- we are in the middle of trials. criminal trials with respect to price fixing and market allocation. we have the ongoing matter involving exclusionary conduct in the google case. we are looking -- we have investigations and attention in many areas from healthcare to agriculture to allocations within labor markets. >> you talk about the criminal cases. given the antitrust agency authority to seek substantial civil fines for sherman act violations helping enforces deter anti-competitive conduct? would civil fines be helpful? >> yes. having the ability to seek civil fines as well would be helpful. of course, if we succeed in the criminal case the follow on civil cases become quite easy. as i know from my own antitrust
practice. but we're down in the number of attorneys in the antitrust division considerably and we need an expansion and why we've asked for a 9% increase, total increase of $201 million in our fy22 budgets. the number of mergers has skyrocketed and the number of people evaluating those mergers has decreased and we need help in that regard. >> thank you. i appreciate the bipartisan work we've done in this committee on that front. last question in july the department announced that it was adopting a new policy that restricts the use of -- an issue we discussed at your confirmation hearing. as a part of that announcement you asked the deputy attorney general to undertake a review protest to further explain,
develop and codify the policy. can you provide an update on the steps that are taken to insure the new policy is implemented? >> yes. issuing a memo is good and it controls the justice department now. the next step though is to have a regulation which will give us some greater permanence and the next step after that would be legislation which justice department supports on what the deputy attorney general is doing now is trying to formulate the general outlines of my memorandum into a regulation which can replace the current pretty detailed regulations that we have. that's what she is involved in right now. >> excellent. thank you very much. >> mr. attorney general we promised you a 5 minute break at 11:30. we can take it right now or have senator lee and coons ask. up to you. >> i'm happy to go ahead with senator lee and coons. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
thank you, attorney general garland for being here. mr. attorney general i've been concerned in recent weeks by some steps that have been taken by the biden administration. steps that i fear represent a significant amount of overreach. seven weeks ago you had president biden giving a speech in which he promised to enlist the assistance of corporate america with more than 99 employees in firing people who don't get vaccinated. i've encouraged everyone close to me to be vaccinated but i don't think it's the role of the federal government to do that and he is punishing fines on them not doing his dirty work even before the ablgt of overreach has been reduced to an order that could be litigated.
litigation that would say -- youngstown versus sauer end et. a mother -- a month after that you direct the department of justice and the f.b.i. to intervene in what as far as i can tell is a state and local issue. that is, a series of issues involving how parents advocate for their children with their local school boards and i also believe that doing that through the department of justice, doing it in the way you did it directing the assistance -- enlisting the help of all 94 u.s. attorneys, therefore every satellite office of the department of justice nationwide, do it in a way that i think has a natural tendency to chill free speech in this area. i question seriously the role of the federal government in protecting people at local school board meetings from their neighbors.
it is, after all, most of the time, state law, not federal, that's at play when there is criminal activity. federal crimes are a subset of crimes generally. so you referenced several times today that your letter covered only violence and threats of violence and yet the very opening line of your memo says in recent months there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, school board members, teachers and staff who run our public schools. you refer to this over and over again. and it's a pretty broad statement. i believe this has a tendency to chill free speech. free speech that is exercised at the state and local level typically by neighbors and parents to local school boards.
in hindsight would you agree a natural consequence of your memo could be chilling free speech, protected speech by parents protesting local school board policies? >> senator, the memo is aimed only at violence and threats of violence. it states on its face the vigorous debate is protected. that is what this is about. that is all this is about. >> what about harassment and intimidation. are those federal crimes? >> they are federal crimes. >> are you referring to witness tampering intimidation under 18usc1512. >> 2261a that makes it a crime with intent to injure, harass or intimidate. placing a person in fear of serious bodily injury through communications over the interneat. and 223a making telephone calls with intention to harass. i want to be clear, though.
those only are within -- i take your point. those are only within what is permitted by the first amendment. and the supreme court has been clear about that, too. in the virginia versus black case the court explained when intimidation is not protected by the constitution and that is when it is made with the intent to placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death. that's what we're concerned about here. >> one of the things that concerns me is we've got 17 attorneys general led by attorney general of nevada and joined by a total of 17 attorneys general including the fantastic attorney general in the state of utah. they've weighed in and said that there is not a barrage of accusations. no unusual flood of accusations of threats of violence against school board members. nothing unusual, nothing that they can't handle at the state
and local level. normally things like this against state and local officials involving state and local government entities like school boards are not federal. now in response to a series of questions before the house judiciary committee including some questions asked by congressman jim jordan from ohio you were asked your factual predicate for your memorandum. you answered that it was the october 22nd memorandum from the national school board association. the national school board association has been mentioned and has since withdrawn that memo and you said that was a factual predicate. given that was the factual predicate and rescinded the memo saying there was no justification for some of the language used in the letter will you rescind your memo?
>> senator, best of my recollection i said the impetus for my memorandum was that letter and also reports of this kind of activity. >> what reports? >> i said again at the time that they were news reports that had been published and i think that some of the other senators here have described some of those news reports and we have certainly seen subsequently more news reports and more statements by board members of threats to kill them. >> congressman chip roy of texas said -- raised in that same hearing the issue of a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom being sexually assaulted in loudon county. and you indicated in response to that that you weren't aware of that and in the six days before you testified before the house judiciary committee, have you become familiar with the
publicly reported details of that case? >> yes, i have read about the case, yes. >> if you were unfamiliar with the supposed instances of threats of violence and intimidation that the national school board association cited in the letter, how did you determine that intervention by the f.b.i. and d.o.j. was necessary and the right approach? >> the right approach in the letter is to meet with local law enforcement. that's what we've asked for is to meet to assess the situation, to see what their needs are, strategize and open lines of communication. i'm hopeful that many areas of local law enforcement will be well able to handle this on their own. this is what the justice department does every day. consult with our local and state partners and see whether assistance is necessary. of course, we continue to have our own federal responsibilities with respect to communications by the internet and on social media,
telephone, through the mail. but i'm hopeful we will not be needed in this area. that our state and local partners will be able to handle these threats. >> my time has expired. just want the state for the record as i close my staff and i went through every news source raised by the national school board association. no explicit death threat and i choose here to reiterate my concern that not every outburst or expression of concern by neighbors among neighbors at a local school board meeting warrants and federal investigation and certainly doesn't warrant the involvement of 94 u.s. attorneys in a way that threatens and chills activity. >> one more request for
introduction of a letter from another attorney general on rescinding the memorandum. this one from ohio attorney general yost. >> without objection. senator coons. >> as you well-known oversight of the executive branch is an important part of the duties of this body and so i just want to commend the chairman for prioritizing this and you for your time here while at times challenging this process is key to fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities and we know that we have substantial work to do to restore confidence in our democratic institutions and i think your engagement here today is a key part of that. thank you for your diligent and thorough answers to the questions being presented today. let me just start with a question about some characterizations being made here in other settings about the trajectory of the biden administration responding to
violent crime. some are asserting the department of justice is focused on defunding the police or hamstringing or undermining law enforcement. as an appropriateor my impression is the president requested an additional $388 million for the cops hiring program, an increase of $200 million over the previous year, cjs that was just posted is $100 million for community violence intervention programs and biden administration insured over $350 billion previously available grants under the cares act could be used to hire more law enforcement personnel at the state and local level beyond prepandemic levels. could you speak briefly to how these different programs and initiatives are in fact designed to prevent violent crime, designed to support our state and local partners and how these investments could work to assist, support and protect law enforcement in
conducting their obligations and duties in our communities in an appropriate way? >> yes, senator. i would just add one more pile of requests there which was for over $500 million for grants which also go directly to state and local law enforcement. >> yes. >> we're very concerned about violent crime. this is an area which is primarily the -- again primarily the responsibility of state and local law enforcement. but nonetheless has bipartisan support and had it since the 1990s for federal government involvement to help prevent. we are as a consequence we have historically since then and accelerating now latched up with our state and local partners in task forces and joint organizations in every city and every community in the united states to help our local
law enforcement protect their communities against violence. we also have federal obviously laws which help us in this regard. and these include money that we've requested for d.e.a., a.t.f., f.b.i., the marshall service all increases to allow us to support these circumstances. >> my hometown is one where i was responsible for local law enforcement when i was an elected county official. we appreciate these additional investment and think it's an important part of our work to prevent violent crime all toefr country. immigration. some think that anything we do to help migrants will necessarily make the border less secure, more chaotic. i disagree. i think it is possible for us to reduce multi-year court back
logs, improve access to counsel and humanitarian aspects of handling migrants and build a system that is orderly, consistent with rule of law, more humane and fair. i would love to understand how we in congress can help you through legislation as well as through funding to reduce immigration court back logs, improve access to counsel and improve the process and also contribute to securing our southern border. do you have thoughts you care to share briefly or would you be willing to share those with us in writing? >> i'll be happy to have the department get back to you in writing but i will say we have requested additional funds so that we can put in additional 600 personnel including 100 immigration judges into our executive office of immigration review so we can do the kind of acceleration you are talking about. we've made a number of internal changes with respect to the way cases are handled in order to accelerate that but we need more money in that respect and
i've made that plea already to the appropriations committee. be happy to get back to you in more detail. >> is it your understanding when applicants for asylum have access to legal counsel the odds that they return for their final disposition and the odds that they will have a fair and appropriate process go up? >> i certainly think the odds that they have a fair and appropriate process would go up. it seems quite logical the odds of them returning for their proceedings would go up they would know they would have that opportunity. i don't know any of the statistics about that, though. >> on intellectual property long concern of mine i wanted to mention back in december of 2019 d.o.j. antitrust issued a statement jointly with the department of commerce and u.s. patent and trademark office when a patent involved in voluntary standard settings efforts typically global
efforts around critical communications technologies and others that all legal remedies should be available when a patent is infringed and that policy insures competition, and participation and plays a vital role in bringing the benefits of innovation to americans. also critical for our global competition with china and other countries. i'm hearing d.o.j. has imminent plans to abandon that position or reverse it and replace it with one that doesn't embrace the availability of all remedies. given there are nominees in process likely now for both aag for antitrust and now for patent and trademark office, would you commit to waiting until there are senate confirmed leaders in these positions before a change in policy? >> i would love to have senate leadership in the antitrust division and everything you can do to make it go swifter would be greatly appreciated. i have to say this is a bit outside the area of my own
expertise. i assume any such thing would have to come through me before it would be announced. nothing like that has come to my office yet. >> i welcome the opportunity to stay in communication. my last quick question relates to the office for access to justice which has in the past under a previous administration been a leader in debtor's prisons and the criminalization of poverty. tomorrow this committee will hold a vote on the driving for opportunity. a bipartisan bill with a number of members of this committee and mick progress in terms of ways in which a decades-old practice of stripping people of their driver's licenses for unpaid court-related fees or fines which advances the criminalization of poverty will be reversed. could you say just a moment about the plans for the office of access to justice and your view about the importance of continued progress in criminal justice reform.
>> yes, senator. equal justice under law is inscribed is a core principle of american democracy. but you can't have equal justice under law if you don't have access to justice. even before my career of being a judge and lawyer in private practice i have been concerned about getting access to attorneys so that lawyers -- so that people who need help with their individual circumstances can have assistance. the president issued an executive order on this. we have -- there is a report, i'm not positive whether it is public. i believe it is, with respect to reinvigorating the round table whose job it is to address this question which i believe i'm a co-chair. we are -- i asked for a review
within the department and we have determined we should stand up once again an independent within the department office of access to justice. we have enough money to do that in the very short term. but our -- not to talk too much about requests for money but our fy22 budget request does ask for a significant appropriation so that we can stand up a staff and get that office going. >> great. thank you mr. attorney general. >> thank you, senator coons. the committee will stand in recess for five minutes. when we return senator cotton is up. if not, senator kennedy. >> harris: they are going the take a quick break and we'll break down one of the fiery moments that just happened. matt whitaker former attorney general joins me now. i'm harris faulkner. your top line thoughts and i want to get to senator cornyn of texas.
>> well, i think merrick garland didn't have a great answer for his school board memo. the national school board association has removed their memo that it was based on. it looked like to some extent a rug had been pulled out under. >> harris: he really had no answer. and then when texas senator cornyn went after him and pressed garland on the effect the memo would have on parents, it got quite a response from the democratic chairman. let's watch it. >> can you imagine the sort of intimidation, the sort of bullying impact that a memorandum from the department of justice would have and how that would chill the willingness of parents to exercise their rights under threat of federal prosecution? >> the only thing this memorandum is about is violence and threats of violence. >> and you consider the
chilling effect your memorandum might have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? i think you can answer that yes or no. >> i don't believe it's reasonable to read this memorandum as chilling anyone's rights. it's about threats of violence. >> harris: it went on. at the very end of it, it was described as a back and forth and dick durbin, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee said let the record reflect the attorney general refused to answer the question. matt. >> yeah. this is a real concern. the threat that the f.b.i. is going to come in and coupled with local law enforcement in order to chill free speech at these school boards. it is an allocation of resources. if the f.b.i. is paying attention to school board meetings they're not paying attention to other things like international terrorism, violent crime and those types of things. this is something the attorney general does not need to stake
out this position where federal law enforcement is going to stand shoulder to shoulder with local law enforcement policing these school board meetings. >> harris: it is hard to believe he would go there when they've already circumvented law enforcement on the ground. they've already said -- look, it was approached during this hearing and we'll be getting back in a moment when they come back to break for those of you just joining "the faulkner focus", we're going back to that senate judiciary hearing and you'll see senator tom cotton and ted cruz coming up. matt whitaker, it was talked about that not every violent threat or crime is actually reaching to the federal level. so why call in the feds? what was law enforcement on the ground doing or not doing with what was playing out among teachers upset understandably over making their own decisions and being part of the discussion about their own children's lives and school and some of them reportedly have
gone too far? law enforcement has been able to handle it, though. why call in the f.b.i.? >> they have and i think senator lee pointed this point out. the tools that f.b.i. and other federal law enforcement brings is intelligence collection, monitoring through various programs. this is obviously very concerning but also access to federal courts and laws. i agree with you, harris, if you've seen the videos where some of these school board meetings have become a little heated, it is oftentimes local law enforcement is there, is protecting the school board members and doing everything they should be doing. i think it's a free speech question and the chilling effect as senator cornyn pointed out cannot be overstated. >> harris: some of the cops have children in the schools. they are part of those communities. it's like having someone who is there who understands
everybody's -- a spherical understanding they have. you want local law enforcement there. i don't think we've been convinced what we've seen from this -- -- take back his letter. calling parents domestic activities. why won't he walk them back? he is standing on a precipice that politics have gotten involved in. he won't back off or back away. >> it's not a red versus blue issue. it is parents involvement in the school system. you see this playing outs in the virginia governor's race. the involvement of parents in their children's education.
but he did send this memo to the national security division and their involvement is probably the most concerning part of this entire memo and the fact he won't explain how nsb would be involved in this or admit that yeah, maybe i shouldn't have sent that and the patriot act should never be employed against parents in school board meetings. i don't understand why he is staking out such a hard and fast position in support of the memo when clearly he misread the situation. local law enforcement is not calling for this d.o.j. help in this regard and those relationships with federal law enforcement where appropriate can be used by local law enforcement when they need help. they weren't asking for help in the first place. >> harris: that's an excellent point. they weren't asking for help in the first place but the teachers union was. i don't know if you caught it, the ranking member from iowa, senator grassley, said look i
have an iowa teachers union here that doesn't agree with the national school board association. they aren't even in agreement. they didn't know the letter was coming calling parents domestic terrorist. will you sit by with us? i want to bring in jason chaffetz and richard goodstein. chaffetz in focus as a fox news contributor and former utah congressman and goodstein former advisor to bill and hillary clinton. i'll talk about your last names. want everybody to know what's going on. jason, i will start with you and remind everybody that merrick garland was somebody who former president barack obama wanted to be on the u.s. supreme court. >> yeah. i think it was actually a missed opportunity for the republicans. i think they should have pressed deeper on the school board issue saying what is it you see in the patriot act that would justify the national security division? if you are an f.b.i. agent working on national security issues and your attorney
general is telling you to go to a school board meeting, that is ridiculous. i would dive deeper you have a parent whose child was raped and was told a lie by one of the school board members. are you going to investigate that? will you prosecute them for lying? i think it is absurd. this is a local law enforcement matter but i think they could have dug deeper into what is it that you see that would even justify the national security division and the patriot act? >> harris: nobody asked for help at a local level. richard, i want to know how careful democrats -- not just in that room but if general on capitol hill have to be with this issue involving parents being targeted by the d.o.j. and f.b.i. it shouldn't be a blue/red issue but it is a hot topic even in new jersey. that one not as close as
virginia but it is a central issue. parents are universally saying we get a say. how careful do dems have to be? >> i think you have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to believe and see that there is violence against teachers, against doctors, against flight attendants. a lot of people in our society. threats against senators and congressman, probably against you. that is what is at issue here is not blue/red issue. we need to cut it short and get in a commercial break. we'll be right back with the hearing.
>> harris: fox news alert. investigators are set to speak at any moment. look, they're walking out right now. it's about the deadly movie set shooting involving alec baldwin. the district attorney makes it clear now that criminal charges are on the table amid claims of negligence, unprofessionalism and stunning new informa