Barr Says Unrest Not Linked To Floyd, Defends Feds’ Response

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Attorney General William Barr listens during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the oversight of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr defended the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in America, saying on Tuesday “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Barr told members of the House Judiciary Committee at a much-anticipated election year hearing the violence taking place in Portland, Oregon, and other cities is disconnected from Floyd’s killing, which he called a “horrible” event that prompted a necessary national reckoning on the relationship between the Black community and law enforcement.

“Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr said of the Portland protests.

The hearing marks Barr’s first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee after 18 months in office, bringing him face-to-face with a panel that voted last year to hold him in contempt and is holding hearings on what Democrats say is politicization of the Justice Department under his watch. It comes during tumultuous stretch in which Barr has taken actions cheered by President Donald Trump but condemned by Democrats and other critics.

Among those actions is the Justice Department’s decision to drop the prosecution of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn and Barr’s urging for a more lenient sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone, a move that prompted the entire trial team’s departure. Trump later commuted the sentence entirely.

Opening the hearing, committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said the Trump administration had “twisted the Department of Justice into a shadow of its former self,” serving the powerful before average Americans. He said the committee has a responsibility to protect Americans “from that kind of corruption.”

Nadler said Barr had “aided and abetted” Trump’s worst impulses and excoriated him and the Justice Department for turning a blind eye to necessary reforms to police departments, for dismissing Black Lives Matter protests and for flooding streets with federal agents to stop protesters.

Republicans hit back hard in defense of Barr and Trump’s administration. The top Republican on the panel, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, used his opening statement to show an eight-minute video that spliced together images of violence by protesters around the country, showcasing law enforcement officers under attack in Chicago, Portland and New York.

Fuming Democrats often used their five minutes to lay out their frustrations and cut him off as he attempted to answer questions.

“Many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions,” Barr said in his opening statement. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”

On policing, Barr’s testimony underscores the Justice Department’s ongoing effort to differentiate between increasing violence in some cities and Floyd’s death, which has led to state charges against four officers and is under investigation by federal authorities. Peaceful demonstrations, but also massive unrest and violent rioting followed Floyd’s death in May.

The attorney general, speaking as Congress and the public pay respects in the Capitol to the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, acknowledged to lawmakers Floyd’s death struck a chord in the Black community because it reinforced concerns Black people are treated differently by police. But he condemned Americans who he says have responded inappropriately to Floyd’s death through what he said was rioting and anarchy.

“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 destruction of federal property,” Barr said. “So should state and local leaders who have a responsibility to keep their communities safe.”

Civil unrest escalated in Portland after federal agents were accused of whisking people away in unmarked cars without probable cause; the people were detained and later released. And in Washington, D.C., peaceful protesters were violently cleared from the streets by federal officers using smoke bombs and pepper balls last month before a photo op by Trump in front of St. John’s church, where Barr had accompanied him.

Barr defended the broad use of law enforcement power to deal with the situation, noting that protesters had earlier set fire to the church and “it was total consensus that you couldn’t allow that to happen so close to the White House.” The department’s internal watchdog has opened investigations into use of force and other tactics by agents in Washington and Portland.

He also said the force was used because the protesters would not disperse from the area when law enforcement officials were trying to move back the security perimeter, a decision made the night before. When pressed on details, he pointed to the investigations.

The use of pepper spray is warranted, even if peaceful protesters are also harmed, he said.

Beyond the federal response to the demonstrations, Barr was pressed in detail about his intervention in the Flynn and Stone cases, both of which arose from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Democrats criticized him for partly taking into account Stone’s health and age, 67, and said those standards haven’t been used in other similar cases.

While Stone’s health was one of the factors considered by senior level officials at the Justice Department, the point of the contention about the sentencing recommendation was over whether a specific sentencing enhancement over witness tampering would apply. Barr said that enhancement is “traditionally applied to mafiosos” and he didn’t agree that it was warranted in Stone’s case.

Barr said he told the acting U.S. attorney that “we are going to leave it up to the judge” and that he ordered the revised recommendation to be filed whent the line prosecutors submitted an initial recommendation calling for a sentence of seven to nine years.

“And even though I knew I would get a lot of criticism for doing that, I think at the end of the day my obligation is to be fair to the individual,” Barr said.

Republicans and Democrats also repeatedly revisited Mueller’s probe, with Democrats arguing he downplayed the report to the public before it was released and Republicans pressing him on the origins of the probe. The department is investigating the department’s decisions as it started investigating Trump’s ties to Russia during the Obama administration in 2016.

In a prepared opening statement released by the department, Barr derisively referred to “the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal.” Barr didn’t read that part of his statement in the hearing room, but defended his actions as he has questioned the probe.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Not one word of the BarrBarian had any truth. He’s a toad and toady sycophant of his Dear Leader, denying the truth in every question. He’ll be disBarred on January 21. Crooked keystone kop Barr hates the Constitution and hides behing his triple chin.

    • What a crazy world! the attorney general whose job it is to keep people in the country safe, has to defend his decision to bring some law and order to the most out of control parts of the country.

    • You are an evil pos, the democrats led by the plastic faced hag Tehran Nancy are supporting criminals that loot riot and murder becaus they are evil scum who want to destroy this country.

    • Actually, your beloved Democrats barely even let him answer any of their so-called questions, because they were too busy “reclaiming their time.” The Inquisition or the Soviet kangaroo courts have nothing on them.

  2. We know its not due to Floyd. AOC admitted it. She said its due to unemployment. That means its bored souls who are under lockdowns and have nothing to do with their time other than wreck havoc. If I can’t work because if a Coumo lockdown , smash Tiffany instead.

    Make no mistake the Feds did too little. We used kids gloves when the anarchists attacked midtown Manhattan in an act of pure evil and terror.

    We need to ban all protests and do what it takes to stop these evil bored people. Shoot them on the leg etc.. Anyone wo lifts a hand against cops, shoot em dead.

      • Seems the ones who are “shooting them dead” – openly in broad daylight – are the ones who are shooting Trump supporters dead. I ask the readership to look up the name Bernell Trammell (a 60-year-old unarmed Black man shot dead in front of his store because he displayed signs supporting Trump).

        So I need you, Henry, to answer this question. Should Bernell Trammell have been murdered and the perpetrator left to live, or should the perpetrator been shot dead instead of Bernell Trammell? And don’t answer “both” should live, because it is the perpetrator who would not allow such a condition to exist and the perpetrator took such a choice away from being possible.

  3. After coming an hour late, scumbag traitor Nadler denied Barr’s request for a 5 minute break to eat something.
    This filthy bum and liar’s inhumanity was probably not shown on CNN NBC or CBS.
    The monstrous Nadler/Schiff/Schumer/Pelosi tyranny will have consequences. These creeps are self destructing.

  4. If some photo editor affixes a longer schnozz to Nadler’s putrid face, I wouldn’t be the least bit upset.
    He’s an ebarrassment to us Jews.
    If the mob to whom he genuflects wins, he’ll be shoved to the guillotine ahead of the line.

  5. Barr was too much of a gentleman in how he responded to the Democrat barbarians who lied and wouldn’t let him finish an answer. These half human half beast mongrels showed millions of Americans why they should be forever defeated.

  6. For those that didn’t see or hear his testimony his open remarks roped the democrats apart and attacked their fake and phony Russia probe But they never are embarrassed by their lies Nadler is the biggest phony of them all

  7. Shame on you Nadler , they know you’re a Jew. You’re partly responsible for the rise of anti semitism. You uncouth foulmouthed Jew. What a shame !

  8. we in Seattle, Portland, Michigan, Chicago, New York pay CITY, STATE & FEDERAL TAXES to be protected and have our businesses protected from gangs & looters. if the city or state won’t protect us, then the FEDERAL government will do the job.
    if your house was looted and burned you’ll go out and protect it. well the federal gov’t is protecting their buildings

  9. That’s true. Eric Holder was a complete yes-man and hit man for Lord King Obama. They systematically worked at crushing any and all opposition. Obama/Holder were ruthless in their pursuit of absolute power. After being impeached, Holder became even more emboldened. He used the color of his skin to brow beat the evil WHITE Rino males.

      • In February 2009, his provocative statement — “in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards” — roiled many.

        True. That unelected impeached criminal, with the blood of Brian Terry on his hands, was already working on getting race riots on the streets of your local town. He planted the seeds of hate and now we are seeing the fruits of Eric Holder’s labor. Thank you Eric Holder. It’s a shame you dropped out of the presidentail race.

  10. Obama and AG Holder= No scandsls, no drama, no riots, low crime, prep for an epidemic, twice elected by majorities.
    Trump, Secessions, BarrBarian= scandals and crisis every day, IMPEACHED, riots, Fed goons in Portland, amnesty of felons, chaos, kids in cages, Bible photo shoots, attacks on lawful demonstrators, no second term.

    • I guess a goy like you never heard of fast and furious.

      “The operation began on October 31, 2009, when a local gun store reported to the Phoenix ATF that four individuals had purchased multiple AK-47 style rifles. In November 2009, the Phoenix office’s Group VII, which would be the lead investigative group in Fast and Furious, began to follow a prolific gun trafficker”

      “The police acted stupidly”
      Barack Obama

      James Foley gets his head cut off by Muslims and the Muslim in the White House gives the Foley family the middle finger and goes and plays golf with his rich WHITE privileged elitists friends on Martha’s Vineyard.
      I can go on but a worthless shmuck like you is too dumb to comprehend anything of value.

    • “No scand[a]ls”

      Sure, because the press covered for him, he being the Lightbringer and all that.

      “No riots”

      So Ferguson and Baltimore never happened?

      “Secessions”

      But I thought secessionists were evil, and no remnant of them should remain. Now they’re the heroes?

      And so forth. I certainly hope you’re not actually a Yid, because it would be depressing to think that one of our brothers or sisters could be so pathetically deluded.

    • Hey, American Yid, what planet do you live on; you stated that “there were no scandals when Obama was President”. Have you forgotten that our Embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012, and several American were killed, because Ms. Hillary, working for Obama refused to provide sufficient security, in spite of warnings? The attack, and the Obama Administrations negligence, were conveniently covered up. In fact, Susan Rice lied about the reasons for the attack. You also attributed “amnesty of felons” to Trump. Actually, it was Obama who commuted the sentences of hundreds of drug dealers from prison. They were not all “low level non-violent offenders”. Next time, get your facts straight before posting your unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations.

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