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Attorney General William Barr got his chance to address Democrats as he appeared for the first time before the House Judiciary Committee.
In a hearing that was delayed briefly due to a car accident involving committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who was not injured, Barr came out aggressively in his opening remarks countering accusations that Democrats have leveled against him of capitulating to President Donald Trump.
(Source: Fox News)
“As I said in my confirmation hearing, the Attorney General has a unique obligation. He holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice. He must ensure that there is one standard of justice that applies to everyone equally and that criminal cases are handled evenhandedly, based on the law and the facts, and without regard to political or personal considerations,” Barr addressed the panel after paying respects over the death of their colleague, Rep. John Lewis,
“I can tell you that I have handled criminal matters that have come to me for decision in this way,” he said.
“The President has not attempted to interfere in these decisions. On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right. That is precisely what I have done,” Barr added.
“Indeed, it is precisely because I feel complete freedom to do what I think is right that induced me serve once again as Attorney General,” he said, citing his previous stint in the role serving under former President George H. W. Bush, and noting that he was looking forward to retiring, had “nothing to prove” and no desire to return to government.
Barr went on to speak about the racial tensions following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, saying though the incident was “jarring,” the nation’s criminal justice system has made much progress over the last five decades and that one officer’s racism is not due to “some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments.”
He defended law enforcement, citing statistics and noting that “the overall number of police shootings has been decreasing.”
“Nevertheless, every instance of excessive force is unacceptable and must be addressed,” he said.
“At the same time, I think it would be an oversimplification to treat the problem as rooted in some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments,” Barr added. “It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors, which can be addressed with focused attention over time. We in law enforcement must be conscious of the concerns and ensure that we do not have two systems of justice.”
“Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way – by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police,” Barr continued.
“The demonization of police is not only unfair and inconsistent with the principle that all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to our inner city communities,” he contended.
Barr went on in his opening statement to address “a different breakdown in the rule of law,” pointing to the “violent rioters and anarchists” that he said have “hijacked legitimate protests,” most notably in Portland. Barr defended the Trump administration’s decision to send federal officers in to quell the unrest, despite the backlash by the left and in the media.
“Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters has laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property,” he said, adding that they “arrive equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosive devices.”
AP reporter embedded with feds in Portland recounts officers’ fear and injuries in terrifying nightly riots https://t.co/QXxRNmRonE
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 27, 2020
“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States,” he added.
“As elected officials of the federal government, every Member of this Committee – regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump Administration – should condemn violence against federal officers and the destruction of federal property,” Barr concluded, thanking Nadler for listening to his concerns.
The Democrat had, in fact, delivered a scathing assessment of Barr.
“Your tenure has been marked by a persistent war against the department’s professional core in an apparent attempt to secure favors for the president,” Nadler said. “In your time at the department, you have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president.”
Barr’s long awaited testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday is expected to be filled with strong condemnation of tactics by Democrats, as he will, no doubt, be rebutting their many attacks against him and the president. It will likely prove a contentious hearing as top Republicans including ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, will also be sparring with Democrats.
Barr is expected to be grilled about recent cases involving Trump confidant Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn as well as the removal of Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor, Geoffrey Berman. The Attorney General has not been subpoenaed and is appearing voluntarily in what will likely be four-and-a-half to five hours of questioning, according to Fox News.
SEE HIGHLIGHTS OF BILL BARR’S HEARING
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- ‘You’re a real class act’: Barr sums up day in response to Nadler denying him a 5 min break
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- AG Barr: Nightly riots cannot be called protests, ‘it is, by any objective measure, an assault’ on US gov
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