Attorney General Democrats Spar with Barr took some heavy fire when he appeared before the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Congressmen grilled Donald Trump’s Attorney General on issues past and present. These range from the Ukraine scandal to the federal response to violent protesters. Democrats generally accused Barr of carrying out the president’s political objectives rather than enforcing the law. Meanwhile Barr openly questioned why Republicans seem to be the only ones worried about civil disorder.
Shots Fired Early
Barr surely knew that he would experience a hostile reception when he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Democratic congressmen have been forthright in their disdain for the AG. They have been the legality and motive of nearly every decision he makes. The main allegation is that Barr serves the president’s personal interest. They also mention that enforcing the law of the land became his secondary priority.
During the hearing, Democratic lawmakers repeatedly cut Barr off mid-sentence and accused him of lying. They set the tone early, with committee chairman Jerrold Nadler sarcastically thanking him for attending. He also pointed out that it was the first time he’d appeared before the committee.
Nadler summed up his beliefs about Barr’s mission as Attorney General. He said “the president’s enemies will be punished, his friends will be protected,” and that Trump’s Department of Justice has caused “real damage to our democratic norms.”
Barr, DOJ Labeled Racist
Texas lawmaker Sheila Jackson Lee later pounced on Barr’s denial that institutional racism exists in police departments.
“I would hope that the DOJ would focus on systemic institutional racism. That’s what we need you to join us on, Mr. Attorney General, and to recognize that institutional racism does exist and until we accept that we will not finish our job and reach the goals and aspirations of our late iconic John Lewis.”
John Lewis was a lawmaker and civil rights leader who recently passed away.
When Barr tried to bring up the leader’s storied legacy, some representatives quickly chastised him. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond implied that Barr did not deserve to invoke his name, since Barr has no Black people in his senior staff.
“That, sir, is systemic racism,” rebuked Richmond. “That is what John Lewis spent his life fighting and so I would just suggest that actions speak louder than words and keep the name of the honorable John Lewis out of the Department of Justice’s mouth.”
Barr, Republicans Respond
Barr did not take the attacks lying down.
He rebuffed claims that he is simply doing the president’s bidding. He stated emphatically that Trump “has not attempted to interfere” in any criminal cases.
“On the contrary,” said Barr, “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.”
Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican on the committee, explained Democratic hostility as a reaction to Barr’s findings that the Obama Administration spied on Donald Trump. He also challenged Democrats’ characterization of peaceful protests by showing a montage of destructive protest clips from across the country.
Overall, the hearing reflected stark partisan hostility. Itthe sobering fact that American leaders (and citizens) are now divided by two different notions of reality. There was no respect for Barr’s position or presumption of noble intentions, only character attacks along political lines.