Special to WorldTribune.com
By Bill Juneau
Attorney General William Barr was the only witness, and 24 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives came to the hearing “ready to rumble.”
Each one had a prepared menu of allegations that Barr had used his office to promote the president’s re-election bid. Many charged that General Barr had fired up the dissent on the streets caused by the death of George Floyd by directing police and federal officers to take down “peaceful” protesters in the name of law and order.
Seventeen Republican legislators also have seats on the committee and each asked questions of the nation’s “top cop,”and he responded with full answers. It was just the Democrats that were pumped up with animosity for the Republican Attorney General. Each committee member was allotted five minutes for questioning the attorney general.
After watching the televised hearing which went on for most of the day, viewers must have been scratching their heads, as they saw Democrats in action. Are they for real? “Did I vote for any of them?”
It was all rather comical as hostile and unprofessional “legislators” yelled and berated the nation’s foremost attorney with spurious allegations, and then refused to allow him to respond and explain the actions of the Department of Justice. In many ways, we saw Curlie, Moe and Larry in skirts and pants, resurrected on a Capital Hill stage.
The hearing got underway after Barr delivered an opening statement in which he told of the policies and actions of the Department of Justice and his own personal commitment to be fair and impartial and to call things as he sees them. He noted also that when he accepted the appointment, the President told him to do what you feel is right. He said that since he has been Attorney General, the President has never asked him or suggested any decision or determination which he should make.
Confronted with questions from each of the 24, Barr remained poised. Typically, he would begin his answer, but within seconds, when he did not agree immediately with the allegation contained inside the question, he would be told by the legislator that “I am reclaiming my time.” In legislative parlance, “reclaiming time” translates to “shut up and let me talk and expose your transgressions.”
Madeline Dean, a freshman congresswoman from Pennsylvania, was one of the nastier detractors of the attorney general. She demanded to know why tear gas and chemical irritants were thrown at “peaceful” protesters in Lafayette Park, near the White House. Tear gas and chemical irritants were not used, said Barr, but when he endeavored to describe the lawlessness of the mob there he was abruptly silenced by the 61-year-old Dean who said she was “reclaiming my time…. and I am surprised at your lack of respect for a member of Congress.”
In another exchange with Dean about the attack on “peace-loving men and women,” by police, the Congresswoman demanded a “yes or no,” as to whether it was proper to use law enforcement against peaceful demonstrators. When Barr hesitated and prepared to explain that tough responses are used only against lawlessness and criminals, Dean interrupted and said a “yes or no” answer was called for. “There are rules here by which we operate and I would ask you to respect them,” she snapped.
Some committee members wanted to focus their questions on the pandemic sweeping the nation and let Barr know that he had done wrong — big time. In fact he was guilty of murder.
Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell who was elected in 2018 in Florida, accused the Attorney General, and the President, of being directly responsible for the deaths of thousands who succumbed to the Covid-19 virus because they caused these persons to be denied medical insurance.
As she was expanding on her nonsense, Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana called out to Chairman Nadler to sanction Powell for having called Barr and President Trump murderers.
Committee Chairman Jerrold “Fat Jerry” Nadler ignored Johnson’s point of order noting that Powell had the floor.
Rep. Nadler, 73, acquired the monitor of “Fat Jerry” in the 90s when he tipped the scales at about 340 pounds packed onto his 64 inch frame. He had his innards rewired and shed about 150 of those pounds, but has retained the nickname in the halls of Congress. Observers have remarked that “Fat Jerry” must have had the same dieting guru as his friend, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
On the House floor, Nadler has been a fierce critic of General Barr and has called for his “impeachment.” It was Nadler, and Rep. Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that promoted the partisan impeachment articles against President Trump. In a trial in the Senate, President Trump was vindicated of any alleged wrongdoing, and the impeachment was labeled by Washington insiders as a “hoax,” pushed by Democrats who wanted revenge for Trump’s beating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Another strident Democrat at the hearing was Pramila Jayapal of Washington and she came gunning to take Barr down and make him cry “uncle.”
“Was it appropriate,” Jayapal asked Barr, to foster an “unprecedented escalation of violence against concerned and peaceful protesters in LaFayette Park and to use tear gas, chemical bombs, pepper sprays, batons and even horses against nonviolent men and women by law enforcement? And it was all done on your order to clear the deck for a photo op of you with the President. Yes or No question,” she said.
Barr said no tear gas was used and he attempted to explain that the demonstration was not peaceful and that he saw projectiles thrown. It was a “yes or no” question the congresswoman repeated, visibly annoyed. She wanted an answer. Barr attempted to explain, and Jayapal snapped, “I am starting to lose my temper.”
Congressman Henry “Hank” Johnson of Georgia used his five minutes to excoriate the attorney general in a gentler manner than most of his colleagues, for recommending a lower sentence in the Roger Stone case and for interfering in the Michael Flynn case.
Barr said the judge had agreed with him in the Stone case, and that Gen. Flynn had been set up. Barr sought to explain further, but Johnson “reclaimed his time,” and asked another question but then “reclaimed” again before Barr could say more.
After a very long day of unintended comedy provided by Democrats, and near the end of the session, Attorney General Barr asked Chairman Nadler for a “five minute break.” Nadler responded in a loud voice, “No.” His loud, cold response seemed to startle others in the room, but Barr remained in place and the hearing was adjourned shortly thereafter.
The ranking Republican member on the committee, Jim Jordan of Ohio, said later that the hearing was ridiculous, because none of the Democrats would allow the witness to answer questions put to him. Any one who watched the hearing, said Jordan, got a preview of inept, unprofessional and unrestrained Democrats in action.
Bill Juneau worked for 25 years as a reporter and night city editor at the Chicago Tribune. Subsequently he became a partner in a law firm and also served as a village prosecutor and as a consultant to the Cook County Circuit Court and to the Cook County Medical Examiner. He is currently writing columns and the ‘Florida Bill‘ blog.