After 18 months in office, Attorney General William Barr made his first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday—and he clashed with Democrats, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler, right from the start. In his opening remarks, Nadler, the committee chairman, said the Trump administration had "twisted the Department of Justice into a shadow of its former self." Barr, he said, had "aided and abetted the worst failings of the president." After Barr was asked later in the hearing whether he had discussed the deployment of federal officers in Portland with President Trump as part of a re-election strategy, he said he would not discuss his conversations with the president, USA Today reports. "Shame on you Mr. Barr," Nadler said."Shame on you." More:
- He says Democrats are trying to discredit him. Barr defended himself and the administration's policies but he revealed little that was new, the AP reports. "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."
- Cabinet has discussed re-election. Politico reports that Barr told the committee Trump's re-election has been discussed in Cabinet meetings, but he rejected accusations that he was using the Justice Department to help Trump get re-elected. "I’m a member of the Cabinet and there’s an election going on, so obviously the topic comes up," he said.
- He contradicts Trump on election being "rigged." Barr contradicted Trump's claim that "mail-in voting is going to rig the election," saying he "has no reason to believe" the election will be rigged, although he does believe there is a high risk of voter fraud, the Washington Post. Asked by Democratic Rep. Cedric L. Richmond whether the president has the power to move Election Day, Barr said he had never looked into it.
- Decision in Stone case defended. Barr defended his decision to intervene in the Roger Stone case, saying that while he believes the prosecution was "righteous," the initial sentence was too harsh. "I agree the president's friends don't deserve special breaks, but they also don't deserve to be treated more harshly," he said, per USA Today.
- Riots "an assault on the government of the United States." Barr, who said in prepared testimony that riots in Portland and elsewhere were not connected to the death of George Floyd, defended the federal deployment in Portland and said every lawmaker present should condemn attacks on federal property. "It is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States," he said.
- Republicans defend Barr. Republicans on the committee hit back against the Democrat accusations and played a five-minute video montage of violence at protests across the country. " I want to thank you for defending law enforcement, for pointing out what a crazy idea the defund the police policy, whatever you want to call it, is, and standing up for the rule of law," said Rep Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the committee, per the New York Times.
- "What enemies have I indicted?" Barr also defended his intervention in the Michael Flynn case, and rejected Nadler's accusation that under Barr, Trump's " enemies will be punished and his friends will be protected," the Post reports. "What enemies have I indicted?" Barr asked. "Could you point to one indictment that has been under the department that you feel is unmerited?"
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