During what was supposed to have been Attorney General Bill Barr’s hearing Thursday in front of the House Judiciary Committee, committee chair Jerry Nadler cut off Florida congressman Matt Gaetz and prevented him from speaking.
Why? Because he was “terrified,” or so Gaetz claims. He was allegedly terrified of being exposed for his ogreish and, some would even say, radical ways.
Watch the altercation below:
The altercation concerned Barr’s decision to skip the hearing.
Though his testimony was originally scheduled to involve each member of the House Judiciary Committee spending roughly five minutes peppering him with questions, over the weekend Nadler trotted out a hash of extreme demands.
First, he demanded that Barr submit to an additional hour of public questioning wherein each party’s counsel would be permitted 30 minutes to ask questions. Then he demanded that Barr also sit for a closed hearing to talk about the redacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
NEW: Barr has warned Dems on House Judiciary he won’t show up to this week’s highly anticipated hearing if they stick to the format Nadler has proposed for the questioning, according to a committee source.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 28, 2019
Barr, we’re told, is objecting to Nadler plan to allow for a round (after members question) of 30 minutes for each side, allowing committee counsels to question. And he is opposed to move to closed session to discuss the unredacted report. https://t.co/WNVrMBKSSl
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 28, 2019
Barr pulled out of the hearing shortly thereafter. But instead of negotiating with the AG over the format of the hearing, Nadler doubled down and then accused Barr, the most powerful law enforcement officer in the country, of being “terrified of having to face a skilled attorney,” even though 18 out of 24 Dems who hold law degrees were opting to let their staffers grill bar, instead of themselves.
Now fast-forward to the hearing Thursday, when committee ranking member Doug Collins used his brief time at the microphone to object to the chairman’s gross accusation.
“What is amazing to me is to say that he is scared of answering questions, scared — you can disagree with the attorney general all you want, but for yesterday he sat for over six hours in the Senate voluntarily answering questions, even on a second round that was taken up by Democrats who wanted to ask more questions,” he said.
“You can argue ‘Did he do good? Did he do bad?’ It doesn’t matter — but we’re not getting that opportunity today because of the stunt and the circus continues over here.”
His argument was that Nadler’s behavior was to blame for Barr’s absence. Instead of allowing for a debate on this assertion, however, the chairman issued a quick rebuttal and then rushed to conclude the hearing without letting anyone else, including Gaetz, offer their perspective.
“Ordinarily at this point I would introduce the witness, but instead we will conclude this proceeding,” he said. “I just want to say we didn’t choose not to have MR. Barr come. He chose. We cannot permit him, anybody in the administration to dictate the manner in which we function. …”
As he spoke, Gaetz repeatedly tried to ask for a chance to also speak, but was ignored.
“We will not hear from the attorney general today but this committee intends to get the information it needs to conduct the constitutional oversight and legislative responsibilities,” Nadler continued.
“We will defend the constitutional scheme of equal and coordinate branches of government, we will make sure that no president becomes a monarch. We need the information without delay the hearing. This hearing is adjourned.”
“Is it going to be, Mr. Chairman, there is not going to be a recognition of members who seek legitimate inquiry as to the procedures …,” Gaetz then exclaimed in frustration before being cut off.
He soon tweeted his frustration with Nadler on Twitter, asking “Who is terrified”?
Judiciary Democrats say AG Barr is “terrified.” Yesterday he testified for over five hours in an open hearing.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 2, 2019
Collins could likewise be heard yelling something about “trampling the minority’s rights.”
While it’s unclear why Barr was so “terrified,” as Gaetz put it, of allowing others to speak at the hearing, what’s noteworthy is that a number of notable individuals have taken Barr’s side.
Take Philip Mudd, a CNN analyst who’s anything but pro-Trump. Last year he lost his temper on pro-Trump commentator Paris Dennard after Dennard suggested that the security clearance of Obama era official John Brennan should be revoked.
Last year Mudd, a former FBI employee, also threatened President Donald Trump over the president’s criticisms of the embattled federal agency.
Yet even Mudd has made it clear that Barr is in the right, while Nadler is in the wrong.
“Let me be a bit snitty here. If I were [Bill] Barr, I would tell Jerry Nadler to pound sand. I would tell him to hit the road. Let me give you a couple of reasons why,” he said Wednesday.
“Biggest hearing you might have in your entire chairmanship, you can’t bother, you’re too lazy to learn the portfolio well enough to ask your own questions? And your members don’t have the discipline not to sit here and speak without asking questions? Really?”
Barr’s chief objection was Nadler’s demand that he submit to questions from each party’s counsel.
“And my second question. Who was elected by the American people to oversee the Department of Justice in the most important investigation they have? Was it the members, or was it some lawyer that you want to set up Barr with? This is a set-up. I think it’s petty and I think the Democrats are overreaching. If I were Barr I’d say I’m going to get martinis, have a good time.”
Unfortunately for Nadler, he won’t be able to silence Mudd with his gavel.
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