Utah Sen. Mike Lee says it was “overreach,” according to media reports, for the Department of Justice to arrest and charge an anti-abortion activist who allegedly assaulted a Planned Parenthood volunteer twice in the same day.
On Sunday, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo asked Lee about accusations that politics were driving decisions by the Justice Department.
“Just in the last few days, we have seen some pretty glaring examples of what appear to be instances of overreach,” Lee responded. “... You have got a Catholic father of seven who formed a group designed to encourage young men to be faithful to their commitments who was arrested in front of his seven children just recently.”
Lee did not offer any details about his example. But Rolling Stone reports Lee was referring to the case of a 48-year-old Kintnersville, Penn., man who was arrested and charged earlier this month after allegedly assaulting a 72-year-old volunteer at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia.
According to the Department of Justice, the volunteer was attempting to escort two patients out of the clinic when the man forced the volunteer to the ground.
Later that same day, the man again pushed the volunteer to the ground after confronting the volunteer outside the clinic. The indictment, first reported by The Daily Beast, claimed the alleged assault caused injuries to the volunteer “that required medical attention.”
The man was charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACEs) Act and, if convicted, faces up to 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $350,000, according to the Justice Department.
“Assault is always a serious offense, and under the FACE Act, if the victim is targeted because of their association with a reproductive healthcare clinic, it is a federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero in a news release. “Our Office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting crimes which threaten the safety and rights of all individuals.”
Lee did not mention the alleged assault of the Planned Parenthood volunteer during his conversation with Bartiromo on Sunday.
A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lee vowed to investigate alleged FBI overreach if Republicans win a majority in the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections.
“You’ve got all these instances of overreach. And it’s deeply concerning to us all. These are all things we’re going to be looking into,” Lee told Fox News.
Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment.