Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. That’s the lesson Attorney General William Barr taught House Democrats on Tuesday in a long-awaited appearance before the Judiciary Committee. House Democrats have been demanding that Barr come and testify before their committee for weeks, hoping to rake him over the coals for his probe into the Russia investigation, his role in tamping down the riots engulfing America, and every other topic that they can dream up in their political strategy meetings. But, as was obvious from Barr’s pre-prepared opening statement, the attorney general has no intention of being Jerrold Nadler’s whipping boy. Indeed, by the time Barr is done reading this statement into the record, Nadler and Co. may wish they’d left well enough alone.
“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 said. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today. So let me turn to that first.”
Barr assured the congressmen that he took his role as steward of the nation’s laws seriously, and that President Trump had no role in determinations made by his office – regarding Russia or any other legal situation facing the nation.
He then moved on to the ongoing chaos in many American cities.
“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. The current situation in Portland is a telling example,” Barr said. “Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters has laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property. The rioters arrive equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosive devices. Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel charged with a defensive mission: to protect the courthouse, home to Article III federal judges, from being overrun and destroyed.”
This would be obvious to anyone with a beating pulse and a subscription to any news service that doesn’t include CNN, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC, but since Barr knows who it is that he’s talking to, he expounded:
“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,” Barr said. “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. The rioters have started fires outside the building, and then systematically attacked federal law enforcement officers who attempt to put them out—for example, by pelting the officers with rocks, frozen water bottles, cans of food, and balloons filled with fecal matter.
“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,” Barr continued. “Such acts are in fact federal crimes under statutes enacted by this Congress.”
Having made his point, Barr urged the Democrats to take their roles as elected officials as seriously as he takes his as the nation’s top lawyer.
“As elected officials of the federal government, every Member of this Committee – regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump Administration – should condemn violence against federal officers and destruction of federal property,” Barr said. “To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time.”
Well, the Democrats practically begged Barr to come and sit before their panel. After this legendary drumming, they may think better of that request in the future.