Democrats launched a full-scale assault against Attorney General William Barr at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. It was a combative clashing with AG Barr the hearing went from topic to topic.
He has occupied the office 17-months and his tenure has been nothing if not controversial. Radio On Fire pulled some key takeaways from Barr’s first appearance before the Judiciary panel.
1 – Democrats were out for blood
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and the rest of the panel’s Democrats did not cut Barr any of the slack congressional witnesses typically receive. They repeatedly cut off Barr’s responses, accused him of being wrong or just out and out lying. The Dems made it clear they weren’t interested in the explanations he offered. Typically, witnesses are given extra time at the end of questions to respond, not the case here. Republicans were forced to use their time to let Barr push back on the Democratic accusations.
2 – Black lawmakers call out Barr
Some of the most powerful moments of today’s hearing came from Black Democrats on the panel. They held Barr’s feet to the fire in response to his denial of systemic racism in policing and defended the response to nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, urged Barr to recognize institutional racism in policing when he said he disagreed that it exists in police departments.
3 – GOP highlights attacks on police
Republicans had their own strategy to show the attacks that have occurred against police officers. Jim Jordan ended his opening statement with a long video splicing together descriptions of “peaceful protesters” with scenes of violence and rioting that have occurred in recent weeks, including attacks on police officers. Barr joined in on the criticism, questioning why Democrats weren’t condemning the violence.
4 – Barr says he’s independent of the President but shows otherwise
In his opening statement, Barr declared he was independent of Trump. He skillfully avoided answering questions about whether Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis was doing an “incredible” job as Trump had said in March. Barr deflected by going after a Democratic governor instead. “Did Cuomo do an incredible job?” Barr said of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Barr also blamed the Obama administration on Tuesday for the problems with Covid-19 testing, saying it was
“a function of President Obama’s mishandling at the CDC.”
It’s a false claim that’s been made by Trump and other Republicans —
the initial faulty Coronavirus test was developed this year.
Later, Barr said of the President’s tweets,
“I don’t pay attention to that. Unless they’re brought to my attention.”
5 – AG Barr makes ridiculous voting claims
Another key instance where Barr has backed up Trump is on voter fraud tied to mail-in voting, which Trump has falsely claimed will lead to massive fraud and a rigged election. Barr said at the Tuesday hearing that a full vote-by-mail election has a “high risk” of significant voter fraud.But those claims wilted under closer scrutiny. When Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a Pennsylvania Democrat, asked Barr to provide evidence that mail-in voting risked of foreign countries producing counterfeit ballots, one of the key allegations Barr has made about fraud, Barr could not do so.”No I don’t, but I have common sense,” Barr said.
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