Attorney General Barr said before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday that violent extremists in Portland, who have attacked a federal courthouse for weeks, are “an assault on the government of the United States.”
“In recent nights, rioters have barricaded the front door of the courthouse, pried plywood off the windows with crowbars and thrown commercial-grade fireworks into the building in an apparent attempt to burn it down with federal personnel inside.”
“Federal courts are under attack,” said Barr. He then rhetorically asked:
“Since when is it okay to try to burn down a federal court?
“If someone went down the street to the Prettyman Court, that beautiful courthouse we have at the bottom of the hill, and started breaking windows, firing industrial-grade fireworks in to start a fire, throwing kerosene balloons in to start fires in the court, is that okay now?”
In a political roasting by combative antipolice Democrats who seek to impeach him, committee members often didn’t allow Barr to answer their questions or cut him off mid-sentence.
In opening remarks, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) set the combative and partisan tone for the entire hearing by accusing Barr of politicizing the Justice Department right out of the gate. Nadler said Barr was engaging in a:
“persistent war against the Department’s professional core in an apparent attempt to secure favors for the President…Under your leadership, you have aided and abetted the worse failings of the President.”
Nadler, as well as other Democratic House committee members repeatedly referred to the riots occurring in cities across the nation as “peaceful protests,” even comparing “demonstrators” to civil rights marches during the 1960s.
Of course, this is the same Nadler who said Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence in Portland was a myth. But for those of us who have watched the violent clips posted on social media know this isn’t Dr. King’s marches and it is no myth.
Barr disputed this interpretation of events, telling Rep. Steven Chabot (R-Ohio) that when marshals come out of the building they are guarding to deal with the fires that were set, they have found rifles, explosives, knives, tasers, rocks, bricks, lasers, pellet guns, and other rioting paraphernalia.
In defending the need for the presence of federal officers in Portland, Barr made it clear that state and local leaders in Portland have failed to do their job and allowed rioters to attack federal buildings.
“If the state would come in and try to keep peace in front of the courthouse, we wouldn’t need additional people at the courthouse,” said Barr.
Barr noted that normally there are deputy marshals in business suits protecting the federal courthouse, but around July 4th when rioting escalated, an additional 20 special operation marshals were sent in to secure the building.
Barr said last week this number had increased to include 95 DHS federal officers. Barr said that this hasn’t been necessary in other states because those local and state authorities do not allow rioters to attack federal property.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who adopted her usual condescending tone when cameras are rolling, told Barr:
“You seem to have a hard time understanding systemic racism and institutional racism that has plagued so many.”
Lee then went on to ask the Attorney General whether he believed the Trump’s Justice Department was seeking to end systemic racism in law enforcement, asking him to answer the question with a yes or no.
But Barr refused to play her game of yes or no, or rather gotcha, and told her, “I don’t agree that there is systemic racism in the police department…and in this country.”
What a refreshing truth bomb!
And he would be right, of course. The protesters who were incensed over the death of George Floyd have long been hijacked by anarchists and domestic terrorists. The riots have nothing to do with racism or police misconduct.
Night after night, rioters in Portland have lit fires outside the federal building and attacked law enforcement officers with rocks, frozen water bottles, canned food and balloons filled with fecal matter.
In a departure from Democratic House committee members, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) thanked Barr for supporting law and order before showing a powerful video of multiple news anchors and Democratic leaders referring to the rioting as “peaceful protests.”
The video absolutely destroyed the narrative of Nadler and other committee members who in a monumental effort to gaslight the television audience, insisted on painting the riots and crime as peaceful and “protesters” as just citizens who care about civil rights.
The video clip featured the press release of the wife and family of the now deceased retired police captain David Dorn thanking the community for the support they received following his senseless death in St. Louis during a “peaceful protest.”
In the video, numerous clips were played showing “protesters” attacking and running over police officers, toppling statutes, destroying businesses and attacking the federal courthouse in Portland.
For his part, Barr seemed unfazed by the political theater, at times appearing bemused by the rhetoric and other times laughing at the ridiculous questions asked by House representatives, such as his crack-up listening to Rep. Madeline Dean.
Particularly funny was his reaction to Chair Nadler refusing him a five-minute break after three hours of grilling. After Nadler refused his request, Barr called him a “class act” and could be seen laughing at him.
Other than the grandstanding by Democratic committee members, one thing became crystal clear throughout the hearing:
Today’s Democrats are not for law and order or upholding the Constitution.
Barr’s message to the committee was also crystal clear. He expects federal officers to actually occupy and protect federal property, not theorize that imaginary racism is reason enough to abandon the statutory requirements that make it so.