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EXCLUSIVE – Twelve Republican senators demand an explanation from the Department of Justice about the FBI’s decision to surround the home of a pro-life activist and arrest him in front of his family.
In a letter on Tuesday, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and 11 other senators asked Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray for more information about the arrest and indictment of the pro-independence activist. Mark Houck life. Authorities charged Houck with violating the Free Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act), apparently in connection with an incident in which Houck pushed an abortion clinic worker who allegedly yelled profanities at the son. 11-year-old from Houck.
While the incident between the two parties was dropped, Houck was told by the Department of Justice in April 2022 that he was being investigated for violating the FACE Act. The Senate letter says Houck’s attorney said he was willing to cooperate in the investigation, and then last week as many as 20 FBI agents surrounded Houck’s home “wearing armored tactical vests, ballistic helmets and holding ballistic shields and long weapons”.
The senators are demanding to know why the DOJ took such a heavy hand with Houck and whether it reflects political bias within the department.
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“This extraordinary pattern of events requires additional information from the Department of Justice and the FBI as to why Mr. Houck was not permitted to self-report to his arrest and arraignment and whether political considerations were taken in passing and executing the search warrant.” , they wrote. .
They also asked why it took so long for the DOJ to charge Houck, a list of officials who approved the investigation and arrest, how many officials were involved.
The FACE Act makes it a federal crime, with potentially large fines and jail terms, to use or threaten to use force to “injure, intimidate, or interfere” with a person seeking reproductive health services.
Fox News Digital obtained an email from one of Houck’s attorneys, former federal prosecutor Matt Heffron, to US Attorney General Anita Eve saying that a FACE Act charge is unlikely to stick. in the tribunals. Heffron concluded that “if the government decides to go forward, I will accept a subpoena on behalf of my client, rather than subject Mr. Houck and his family to unnecessary disruption.”
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The senators said in their letter that Eve did not respond to Heffron after at least two more attempts, and that Heffron “made it clear to the committee that he and Mr. Houck cooperated with the Justice Department; however, in return, the Department of Justice was unable to contact them.”
“Given their cooperation with federal law enforcement, the family did not expect to be woken up at 7 a.m. by more than 20 FBI agents surrounding their home in armored tactical vests, ballistic helmets and ballistic shields, and long guns,” the senators wrote.
The senators also asked whether Houck’s arrest complied with the Justice Department’s “use of force” policy, citing a May 20 memo from Garland to Justice Department employees.
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“Under the heading of de-escalation, the memo states: ‘Officers will be trained in de-escalation tactics and techniques designed to obtain a subject’s voluntary compliance before using force, and such tactics and techniques should be employed if objectively feasible and not would increase the danger to the officer or others. Where feasible, reducing the need for force allows officers to ensure their own safety and the safety of the public,” the senators wrote.
The senators point out that Houck, in addition to cooperating with the government, Houck’s attorneys also told the committee that Anita Eve “recommended a ‘Return On Own Advocacy’ bond, meaning Mr. Houck was free to go without have to pay bail.”
“This indicates that the government did not view Mr. Houck as a threat to the community, calling into question why heavily armed FBI agents were needed to arrest him in the first place,” the senators wrote.
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The FBI Philadelphia Field Office previously told Fox Digital in a statement that “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 detained without incident pursuant to an indictment.”
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“While it is standard FBI practice not to discuss such operational details, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported to have been at the scene on Friday is an exaggeration, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional. , in line with standard practices. , and with the intention of ensuring the safety of all those present inside and outside the residence,” the office said.
The Justice Department and the FBI confirmed receipt of the letter, but declined to comment further.