Attorney General Merrick Garland went off on Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday when the congressman suggested that the Justice Department discriminates against Catholics who are opposed to abortion.
Van Drew began by remarking, “The two-tiered system of justice is clear and it’s clear to the American public. And the buck stops with the man in charge. That man is you. The actions of the DOJ are on you. The decline of Americans trust in our federal law enforcement is on you. The political weaponization of the DOJ is on you. Attorney General, I need a simple yes or no to the following. Just yes or no because we don’t have much time. Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists, yes or no?”
The AG replied, “Let me answer what you’ve said in that long list of-“
“Attorney General, I control the time. I’m gonna ask you to answer the questions I ask,” Van Drew insisted.
Garland: “You’ve controlled the time by asking me a substantial number of things and I –”
Van Drew: “I didn’t ask you those things, I made a statement. Attorney General, through the chair I ask you, do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists? Answer the question.”
“I have no idea what traditional means here, let me just-” Garland insisted before Van Drew cut him off again.
“Catholics! Catholics that go to church.”
Garland: “May I answer your question? The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous! So absurd!”
Garland’s family fled from Russia due to anti-Semitism, and the fact that Van Drew would ask such a question clearly infuriated him.
Van Drew continued to press.
“Mr. Attorney General, it was your FBI that did this. It was your FBI that was sending — and we have the memos, we have the emails –were sending undercover agents into Catholic churches.”
The AG replied, “Both I and the director of the FBI have said that we were appalled by that memo.”
Mediaite notes that Van Drew was clearly referring to recent convictions of pro-life Catholics who blockaded family planning clinics:
Garland and Van Drew continued to spar over the DOJ’s treatment of religious Catholics. The former’s DOJ has been criticized for its zealous prosecution of pro-life activists. Last week, two 70+ year old women were found guilty of being “engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services.”
Here’s the video: