Attorney General William Barr gives a forceful defense of the rule-of-law in prepared remarks to today’s Judiciary Committee meeting released Monday night, while blasting politicians and the media for their lack of response to the ongoing violence in Portland.
“In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims,” Barr wrote in his remarks.
He marks the Portland riots as a telling example: “What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States.”
After describing the carnage within the city, Barr calls out politicians and media for their failure to condemn the violence. “To state what should be obvious, peaceful protesters do not throw explosives into federal courthouses, tear down plywood with crowbars, or launch fecal matter at federal officers. Such acts are in fact federal crimes under statutes enacted by this Congress.”
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For Barr, the failure signals an abandonment of the rule-of-law, which should have been unifying in an otherwise partisan moment.
“At the very least, we should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control, or tear down statues and monuments that law-abiding communities chose to erect, or to destroy the property and livelihoods of innocent business owners,” his prepared remarks say.
The attorney general also references skyrocketing violent crime in numerous Democrat-run cities, connecting it to those disparaging and trying to slash funding for law enforcement: “The demonization of police is not only unfair and inconsistent with the principle that all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to our inner city communities.”
“When a community turns on and pillories its own police, officers naturally become more risk averse and crime rates soar,” he states. Each of these lives lost in criminal violence, the Department head wrote, matters too.
Barr, who also served as attorney general under George H W Bush, also addresses attacks from politicians about his time working with President Trump. Numerous Democrats have suggested impeaching Barr, a cause Democrat Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said he “may very well” go along with. In his statement, Barr makes clear exactly where such attacks were coming from.
“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, 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 states at the start of his remarks. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”
The DOJ head proceeded to outline the actual role the President Trump had served.
“The President has not attempted to interfere in these (DOJ) decisions. On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right. That is precisely what I have done… From my experience, the President has played a role properly and traditionally played by Presidents.”
Barr further rebuked the attacks by highlighting the reason he’d returned to DC. In a strikingly personal point, the longtime official writes of how he’d been happily slipping into retirement with his grandchildren until he felt called to action over the politicization of the country’s criminal justice system.
“I revere the Department and believed my independence would allow me to help steer her back to her core mission of applying one standard of justice for everyone and enforcing the law even-handedly, without partisan considerations,” Barr is slated to say. “Since returning to the Department, I have done precisely that.”
You can watch the opening statements, as well as the rest of the hearing, Tuesday morning during the official testimony.