If you sat through the unexpurgated testimony by Attorney General William Barr before the House Judiciary Committee, congratulations.
At some point during Hour Four of Tuesday’s Democratic donor clip-fest, I decided to reclaim my time and walk my dog. I didn’t come back to the hearing. I did, however, watch the fallout and the Democrats complaining that they weren’t able to interrupt Barr, enough, including the fact that he — gasp! — talked over women.
Who were, uh, talking over him.
That being said, before I checked out, there was some fun involved — particularly GOP Rep. Jim Jordan’s video preempting the inevitable line of argument from Democrats that Barr’s Department of Justice was cracking down too hard on “peaceful protesters” in the demonstrations that sprang up in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25.
In fact, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, made this point repeatedly in his opening remarks.
Before he was able to make this point, however, Rep. Jordan played this video — part of which was cut off Nadler’s bequest:
The video shows a montage of reporters talking about “peaceful protests” — then transitions into the aftermath of the murder of David Dorn, the retired St. Louis police officer killed by rioters as he tried to protect a pawn shop from being looted. It goes from there to show you exactly the kind of violence the Department of Justice is up against. This includes violence from antifa groups, which Nadler had previously called “imaginary.”
In an appearance on Fox News the day after the hearing, Jordan said Nadler wouldn’t even allow the full video to be played.
“They wouldn’t let us complete our video, they wouldn’t let [Barr] answer questions–” Jordan said.
“They pulled the plug on the video?” asked Steve Doocy, co-host of “Fox & Friends.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t all the way through. We had more to show. They wouldn’t let [Barr] answer the questions. And there was a point where they weren’t even going to let him take a restroom break,” Jordan said.
According to a Fox News analysis, roughly two minutes of the video was cut off.
“In that time, the video shows a woman holding a sign that says, ‘Good Cops Quit’ while rioters smash the windows of an Amazon store in the background, then a person yelling at the individual filming to ‘put your phone down!’ It then shows a cardboard police officer wearing a Klan hood being burned in effigy while a person holds a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign nearby and others loudly cheer the burning,” Fox News reported.
Nadler said that he was cutting the video because of its length and that it wasn’t submitted to the majority on the committee before it ran.
“I hope that Mr. Jordan will never complain about the length of my opening statement,” Nadler said upon cutting the video off. “I am going to insert the committee’s audio-visual policy into the record of this hearing. And note that the minority did not give the committee the 48-hour notice required by that policy.”
However, it might as well have been because it stepped on plenty of arguments the Democrats were going to be making about the federal government’s role in intervening in the “mostly peaceful” protests, plenty of which came during Nadler’s prepared opening remarks.
“We are coming to grips with a civil rights struggle long swept under the rug, if not outright ignored by our government,” a transcript of the remarks reads. “We are, as a nation, witnessing the federal government turn violently on its own people.”
“First, under your leadership, the Department has endangered Americans and violated their constitutional rights by flooding federal law enforcement into the streets of American cities, against the wishes of the state and local leaders of those cities, to forcefully and unconstitutionally suppress dissent,” Nadler continued, addressing Barr.
“Second, at your direction, Department officials have downplayed the effects of systemic racism and abandoned the victims of police brutality; refused to hold abusive police departments accountable for their actions; and expressed open hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Of course, the great irony came at the end of Nadler’s prepared remarks: “Our members expect sincere answers today, and our country deserves no less.”
It didn’t get them — but not because Attorney General Barr wasn’t prepared to be sincere. Rather, all the Democrats were too busy reclaiming their time.
To the extent that the Justice Department’s decision to send federal agents into cities like Portland, Oregon, was questioned on Tuesday, the video was a 10-minute primer of why they needed to be there. Barr himself also made the point later in the hearing.
“Federal courts are under attack. Since when is it OK to burn down a federal court?” Barr asked lawmakers.
He continued: “If someone went down the street to the Prettyman Court here, that beautiful courthouse we have right at the bottom of the hill and started breaking windows and firing industrial-grade fireworks in to start a fire, throw kerosene balloons in and start fires in the court, is that OK? Is that OK now?
“No, the U.S. Marshals have a duty to stop that and defend the courthouse, and that’s what we are doing in Portland. We are at the courthouse, defending the courthouse.”
The federal government’s decision to defend its own property when jurisdictions aren’t going to help out, apparently, now presents a problem to lawmakers.
And, as Jerrold Nadler proved, they don’t like to be reminded of it.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.