President Joe Biden once again broke his campaign commitment to keep the Department of Justice (DOJ) non-political, critics say, calling Attorney General Merrick Garland's latest directive to the FBI to investigate "threats of violence" at school board meetings a clear move to "politicize the DOJ."
On Monday, Garland directed the FBI and U.S. attorney's offices to hold meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders in the next 30 days, during which they will discuss ways to combat what the DOJ called a "disturbing trend" of harassment and threats against school officials.
Garland's announcement came just days after the National School Board Association wrote a letter to Biden asking his administration to treat parent protests at school board meetings as possible acts of "domestic terrorism." The association also wrote that some of the "threats" to school boards involved reports that critical race theory (CRT) was being proliferated in classrooms, which it called "propaganda."
The group wrote: "Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula. This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class."
However, one of the largest teacher unions in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), has publicly endorsed and defended teaching CRT and called for its expansion in the classroom.
As a result, legal experts and elected officials are calling this latest move by DOJ "gross federal overreach" and a blatant attempt to push CRT in the classroom.
"The Biden Administration continues to politicize the DOJ, ignore the rule of law, and undermine state sovereignty," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told Fox News.
"This is the latest shameful attempt to force Critical Race Theory upon our impressionable children, against the will of their parents. We will not tolerate this gross federal overreach and intimidation of Arizona families."
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also weighed in, telling Fox News in a statement that DOJ's directive is a "political stunt at taxpayer expense," and a better use of federal funds would be to protect the southern border.
"President Biden’s use of the Justice Department to investigate is grossly inappropriate and nothing more than a political stunt at taxpayer expense," said Rutledge.
"Threats of violence to anyone, including local school board members, will not be tolerated and my office will work with local law enforcement to prevent and prosecute any such criminal conduct. President Biden’s use of federal law enforcement would be better spent protecting all Americans from the influx of individuals flooding our southern border."
In response to a request for comment, DOJ spokesperson Wyn Hornbuckle told Fox News: "There has been misinformation circulated that the Attorney General’s directive is an effort to silence those with particular views about COVID-related policies, school curricula, or other topics of public discussion. This is simply not true. As stated clearly in the Attorney General’s guidance to the FBI and United States Attorney’s Offices, the Department’s efforts are about rooting out criminal threats of violence, not about any particular ideology."
Biden has come under fire recently for a series of actions taken by his DOJ that are considered "abuses of power" by experts, after he promised on the campaign trail that he would keep politics out of the department and it would be "totally independent" of him.
Within the last few months, Biden – supported by other Democrats and liberal groups – has green-lighted DOJ to file lawsuits against Georgia, over its state election statute, and Texas, over its controversial anti-abortion law.
DOJ is also facing a wave of backlash as parents criticize its most recent announcement – some asking the department for an apology.
"I am what a domestic terrorist looks like?" asked Asra Nomani, vice president of investigations and strategy at Parents Defending Education. "You owe parents an apology!"
Former Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also criticized DOJ, telling Fox News it's a "shameless" attempt to silence parents who are invested in their children's education.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment by Fox News.
Fox News' Michael Lee contributed to this report.