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U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s raucous hearing before the House Judiciary Committee last week exposed several fallacies and falsehoods that Democrats and their allies in the Washington Press Corps have pushed, The Federalist’s Margot Cleveland noted Monday.
In a column for the outlet, Cleveland said the contentious back-and-forth between Barr and the committee’s Democrat members, most of whom refused to allow the attorney general to fully answer their questions, nevertheless “dismantled much of the fake news that has made headlines over the last two months.”
Noting that many Democrats focused on Roger Stone, a longtime associate of President Donald Trump whose sentence was commuted in recent weeks, Cleveland said Barr made it clear that he didn’t override prosecutors’ initial lengthy sentence recommendation on the basis of a presidential tweet.
When Republicans gave Barr the opportunity to answer the accusation, he reminded Democrats that Stone was charged and prosecuted during his tenure.
“Stone was prosecuted under me, and I said all along, I thought that was a righteous prosecution,” Barr said, adding that line prosecutors’ seven-to-nine-year sentencing recommendation “was more than twice anyone else in a similar position had ever served, and this is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence.”
Democrats also insinuated that Barr sought to have the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn dropped because he was a friend of the president.
“I agree the president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people,” Barr said, explaining further that he asked an independent U.S. attorney in Missouri to examine Flynn’s case, and that he recommended the case be dropped.
St. Louis-based U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, who has 10 years’ experience as an FBI agent and 10 years’ worth of Justice Department experience, concluded “that the only purpose was to try to catch him in saying something that they could then say was a lie.”
“Furthermore, it was clearly established by the documents that the FBI agents who interviewed him did not believe that he thought he was lying,” Barr said.
Democrats also charged that Barr fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who was acting head of the Southern District of New York, because that office is investigating Trump associates. In reality, Barr said he replaced Berman with the expectation that the prosecutor would be remaining with the DoJ. When Berman publicly stated he would not step down — a blatant act of insubordination — Barr was forced to fire him.
In addition, the panel’s Democrats suggested that Barr showed favoritism to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manfort but not the president’s long-time and former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who was convicted in 2018 of financial crimes unrelated to Trump.
“Did you know that as a condition of Cohen’s [coronavirus-related] release from prison, the government intended to direct Cohen not to engage with the media and not to write a book?” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked Barr, who responded “no.”
The AG said that the conditions of Cohen’s release were not handled by his office but rather “by the probation office, which is part of the U.S. Court System.”
“And it was the U.S. Court System that had the requirements about not writing,” he said, later adding that the Bureau of Prisons director confirmed under oath the DoJ nothing to do with the decision to release Manafort from prison over coronavirus concerns.
Barr also disemboweled Democrats’ allegation that he ordered the use of tear gas against ‘peaceful protesters’ in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, so President Trump could walk to nearby St. John’s Cathedral for a photo op.
“There was unprecedented rioting right around the White House,” Barr explained. “Very violent.
“During that time about 90 officers were injured. In fact, the Secret Service was so concerned it recommended the president go down to the shelter,” Barr continued.
“There was a breach of the Treasury Department, the lodge—an historical building on Lafayette Park—was burned down, and St. John’s Church was set on fire,” he added.
The AG also discounted Democrats’ claims that the administration was using excessive force against protesters besieging the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland.
“In Portland, we have a relatively small number of federal officers who have been withstanding, [the assault] for almost two months. It’s a great strain, but we cannot just stand aside and allow the federal court to be destroyed,” he said.
“I have to say, I don’t understand why a small contingent of marshals inside the court poses a threat to anybody’s First Amendment rights,” he added.
Barr also refuted Democrats’ claims that he refused to intervene using federal agents when armed anti-lockdown protesters who support the president ‘stormed’ the Michigan capitol building in the spring.
The AG quickly noted that the Michigan capitol building is not federal property, and that state authorities had the situation well in hand.
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