Attorney General William Barr is defending the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in America, saying “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Barr will tell members of the House Judiciary Committee at a much-anticipated hearing on Tuesday that the violence taking place in Portland, Ore., and other cities is disconnected from the death of Floyd, which he described as 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 will say of the Portland protests, according to a copy of his prepared remarks released by the Justice Department on Monday and reported by the AP.
The attorney general, speaking as Congress and the public pay respects to the late Rep. John Lewis, will acknowledge to lawmakers that Floyd’s death struck a chord in the Black community because it reinforced concerns that Blacks are treated differently by police. But, he will say, "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." The hearing on Tuesday marks Barr’s first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, bringing him face-to-face with a panel that voted last year to hold him in contempt and is holding hearings on what Democrats allege is politicization of the Justice Department under his watch. He will also touch on other controversies that have shadowed his tenure, including his handling of the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia.
(Read more William Barr