Sen Hawley demands direct answers from Garland on DOJ ‘SWAT-style tactics’ against political foes

By all appearances, the FBI is currently being utilized to target conservatives with the intent to silence political opposition to President Joe Biden’s administration and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) demanded an explanation “if the shocking reports…are true,” asserting Attorney General Merrick Garland has “a lot to answer for.”

Early Friday morning in Pennsylvania, Catholic pro-life author and activist Mark Houck was arrested at his home for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when he was said to have pushed a man near an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the arrest for the alleged offense, which had already been dismissed at the local level, was said to have been conducted by more than 20 FBI agents with guns drawn as Houck’s seven young children looked on with horror.

“If the shocking reports about the FBI arresting a man Friday in rural Pennsylvania are true, then you have a lot to answer for,” Hawley began his letter to Garland.

“Not only did your office turn a local dispute into a national case, but the FBI reportedly executed the search warrant in as extreme a manner as one can imagine,” the senator asserted.

“Reports state that the FBI sent as many as 20 to 25 agents to conduct the arrest. And the FBI allegedly arrested Houck at gunpoint early in the morning in front of his seven children. The FBI admitted, in a statement, that as many as 20 agents were present with their guns drawn,” Hawley explained. “As Houck’s wife said, when they saw 20 or more agents arrest their father at gunpoint, ‘the kids were all just screaming.'”

Ahead of Hawley’s letter, the FBI’s Philadelphia office had already tried to discredit the claims of Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, with a statement downplaying the aggressive arrest. “No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved. FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents and asked him to exit the residence. He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment.”

That sugar-coated telling of the incident did not dispute the excessive number of agents dispatched to execute the arrest or any threatening behavior they may have engaged in at the time. Hawley went on to note how out of sync was the arrest of Houck, whom reports contended had only pushed a man for harassing his 12-year-old son as they were offering sidewalk counseling outside a Planned Parenthood clinic last year.

“The reports are especially shocking given that your office has so far turned a blind eye to the epidemic of violence across the country by pro-abortion extremists against pregnancy resource centers, houses of worship, and pro-life Americans–violent acts that are prohibited by the very same law under which you are charging Mark Houck,” the senator highlighted.

As previously reported, since Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization had been leaked there had been dozens of incidents of violence committed against pro-life groups including at least 18 acts of arson and vandalism by the radical group Jane’s Revenge with no record of arrests from the FBI.

“All of this comes after more than a year of your office repeatedly weaponizing the FBI and other arms of the federal government against political opponents,” Hawley pointed out before slamming the attorney general. “If you are trying to inspire confidence in your department, you are failing magnificently.”

Along with asserting that Garland should testify under oath as to his “selective use and apparent political weaponization of the FACE Act,” Hawley sought the answers to why so many agents were sent to execute the arrest pertaining to an alleged assault, why their guns were drawn, and, since the SCOTUS leak, “how many charges has your department brought against pro-abortion extremists who have attacked pregnancy resource centers, churches, and pro-life Americans?”

The Missouri lawmaker’s request for answers followed the equally disturbing claim from an FBI whistleblower that the agency had been prioritizing investigations of Jan. 6 attendees over child sexual abuse cases while also going against standard operating procedure to give the appearance of a widespread problem. That whistleblower has reportedly been relieved of duty.

Furthermore, since the raid of former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, ensuing search warrants against the former president’s allies have only heightened the impression that a political witch hunt is underway.

As Hawley wrote, “The corruption & abuse of law is out of control. Come January, the new Republican Congress must launch a thorough, public investigation of DOJ & the FBI – from their targeting of parents to religious protestors to political opponents. What Biden is doing is wrong. And dangerous.”

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Kevin Haggerty

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