The US Attorney General William Barr’s long-awaited hearing before the House Judiciary Committee was held Tuesday with the five-minute time limits on the congressional questions.
Barr’s fumbling answers were often drowned out by representatives’ pointing out their “ownership” of the short time allotments.
Although Barr defended his federal responses vigorously, the Democrats accused him and other Trump administration officials of suppressing protests’ rights in an overly violent crackdown.
The five-hour hearing accelerated into loud demands for Barr’s thoughts on important American constitutional measures, but often left him with a lack of time.
This summer’s dramas that features deployment of mysterious federal agents ordered to confront protesters’ rights in the nation’s streets in various cities were questioned, over and over.
Out of the congressional hullabaloo, Barr was confronted by accusations that he concentrates on serving President Donald Trump’s interests, without acknowledgment of the needs of the American people.
The Democrats tried to portray Barr as dangerous “wing man” for Trump. Barr insisted he was trying to enforce the law against what he characterized as rioters using demonstrations as cover to commit crimes. The AG said of the criminal cases that grew out of the Russia investigation he wanted to be fair to Trump’s former advisers.
Democrats were angered as Barr stumbled over small details or ignored questions about his rationale or actions. The lawmakers gained few, if any, new facts or admissions.
“You have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, said at the beginning of the hearing. Barr sat impassively.
“The president wants footage for his campaign ads and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,” Nadler said. “You are projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives. Shame on you, Mr. Barr.”
The AG denied the charges, arguing at first calmly and then more irritably that federal agents confronting protesters were not trying to quash peaceful expressions of free speech, but to deal with “mob” violence.
“Rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims,” Barr said.
Specifically, he defended the deployment of undefined federal agents in Portland, Ore., accusing the local police of essentially abandoning a federal courthouse as rioters and vandals “laid siege” to it, threatening the functioning of the court system.
Barr had to think a second before condemning foreign election interference across the board.
David N. Cicilline (R.-R.I.) asked Barr if it would be “appropriate for a president to solicit assistance” from a foreign government during an election, initially saying “It depends on what kind of assistance,” before deciding, “No, it’s not appropriate.”