Jul 29, 2020
House Judiciary Committee Hearing of Attorney General William Barr Transcript July 28
The House Judiciary Committee held a Department of Justice oversight hearing with Attorney General William Barr on July 28. Read the full transcript of Bill Barr’s teastimony here.
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Mr. Nadler: (00:00)
Any time. We welcome everyone to this morning’s hearing on oversight of the Department of Justice. I apologize for beginning the hearing late as many of you know I was in a minor car accident on the way in this morning. Everyone is fine except perhaps the car but it did cause significant delay. I thank the attorney general and the members for their patience and their flexibility and we will now begin. Before we begin I want to acknowledge … I want to note that we are joined this morning by the distinguished Majority Leader, the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Hoyer. Leader Hoyer has long recognized the need for vigorous congressional oversight of the executive branch under both parties and we appreciate his presence today as we question the attorney general.
Mr. Nadler: (00:54)
Before we begin, I would like to remind members that we have established an email address and distribution list dedicated to circulating exhibits, motions or other written materials that members might want to offer as part of our hearing today. If you would like to submit materials, please send them to the email address that has previously been distributed to your offices and we will circulate the materials to members and staff as quickly as we can.
Mr. Nadler: (01:18)
I would also remind all members that guidance from the Office of the Attending Physician states that face coverings are required for all meetings in an enclosed space such as this committee hearing. I expect all members on both sides of the aisle to wear a mask except when you are speaking. I will now recognize myself for an opening statement.
Mr. Nadler: (01:38)
Thank you for being here Mr. Barr. According to the Congressional Research Service, this is the first time you have appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, both during your first tenure as attorney general 30 years ago and during your current service in the Trump administration. Welcome. 150 years ago last month, in the aftermath of the Civil War, Congress created the Department of Justice. We did so with two missions in mind. First, we wanted to replace a system a party of spoils with a core of professional government attorneys. Yes these attorneys would be supervised by the attorney general and yes the attorney general would remain a political appointee, but at its heart, the department would rely on a foundation of professionals dedicated to the impartial administration of the law and an unbiased system of justice.
Mr. Nadler: (02:32)
Second, Congress established the Department of Justice to enforce the nation’s first civil rights laws after the Civil War. From that moment on, it became the department’s responsibility to ensure the right to vote and to stem the tide of systemic racism. Now not every attorney general in the intervening 150 years has given full expression to these two goals. I am certain that every administration is falling short of those promises in some way over time, but today, under your leadership Sir, these two objectives are more at risk than at any time in modern history. Your tenure has been marked by a persistent war against the department’s professional core in an apparent attempt to secure favors for the president. Others have lost sight of the importance of civil rights laws, but now we see the full force of the federal government brought to bear against citizens demonstrating for the advancement of their own civil rights.
Mr. Nadler: (03:32)
There is no precedent for the Department of Justice to actively seek out conflict with American citizens under such flimsy pretext or for such petty purposes. 150 yeas later, we are again at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, Mr. Barr. We are confronted with a global pandemic that has killed 150,000 Americans and infected more than 16 million worldwide. We are coming to grips with a civil rights struggle long swept under the rug, if not outright ignored, by our government. We are as a nation witnessing the federal government turn violently on its own people. And although responsibility for the government’s failure to protect the health, safety and constitutional rights of the American people belongs squarely to President Trump, he could not have done this alone. He needed help and after he finished utterly humiliating his first attorney general, he found you.
Mr. Nadler: (04:32)
In your time at the department, you have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president. Let us recount just some of the decisions that have left us deeply concerned about the Department of Justice. 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. 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. Third, in coordination with the White House, the department has spread disinformation about voter fraud, failed to enforce voting rights laws, and attempted to change the census rules to flaunt the plain text of the Constitution, and even defied court orders on this subject, all in the apparent attempt to assist the president’s re-election.
Mr. Nadler: (05:51)
Fourth, at the president’s request, the department has amplified the president’s conspiracy theories and shielded him from responsibility by blatantly misrepresenting the Mueller report and failing to hold foreign actors accountable for their attacks on our elections, undermining both national security and the department’s professional staff in the process. Fifth, again and again, you personally have interfered with ongoing criminal investigations to protect the president and his allies from the consequences of their actions. When career investigators and prosecutors resisted these brazen unprecedented actions, you replaced them with less qualified staff who appear to be singularly beholden to you.
Mr. Nadler: (06:41)
The message these actions send is clear. In this Justice Department, the president’s enemies will be punished and his friends will be protected, no matter the cost, no matter the cost to liberty, no matter the cost to justice. Finally, and perhaps most perniciously, the department has placed the president’s political needs over the public health by challenging stay-at-home orders in the states hit hardest by the pandemic. The department’s persistent efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act will make recovery that much harder. These actions come at a price. Real damage to our democratic norms, the erosion of the separation of powers, and a loss of faith in the equal administration of justice. In the hands of President Trump, a Department of Justice that adopts a dangerously expansive view of executive power and demonstrates a willingness to shield him from accountability represents a direct threat to the liberty and safety of the country. We were warned. At your confirmation hearing, Professor Neil Kinkopf testified and I quote, “Public confidence in the rule of law depends on there being an attorney general who will not allow the president to do whatever he wants with the Justice Department. William Barr’s views of presidential power are so radically mistaken that he is simply the wrong man at the wrong time to be attorney general of the United States.”
Mr. Nadler: (08:14)
Again, this failure of leadership comes at great cost. This administration has twisted the Department of Justice into a shadow of its former self, capable of serving most Americans only after it has first served those in power. This committee has a responsibility to protect Americans from that kind of corruption, Mr. Barr. We have a responsibility to ensure that the Justice Department and its attorney general administer justice equally and fairly, and this is what has brought us to this hearing room today. We want to give you a chance to respond to our questions to these and other matters and we hope and expect that you will do so in a clear and forthright manner. Our members expect sincere answers today and our country deserves no less. I now recognize the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan, for his opening statement.
Mr. Jordan: (09:12)
Spying. That one word, that’s why they’re after you, Mr. Attorney General. 15 months ago, April 10, 2019 in a Senate hearing you said this sentence, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.” Spying on a political campaign is a big deal, it sure is, and since that day, since that day, when you had the courage to state the truth, they attacked you, they’ve been attacking you ever since every day, every week, for simply stating the truth that the Obama-Biden administration spied on the Trump campaign. One year ago, New York Times headlines said this. One year ago, “FBI sent investigator posing as assistant to meet with Trump aide in 2016.” The FBI sent a young lady who used the name Azra Turk to meet Papadopoulos in September of 2016. They sent someone pretending to be someone else to meet a person associated with the Trump campaign. You know what they call that? You know what they call that? Spying.
Mr. Jordan: (10:12)
One month later, October 2016, they used the dossier to spy on Carter Page. The salacious, unverified dossier, Jim Comey’s words, not mine. They took it to the FISA court, didn’t tell the courts that the Clintons paid for it, didn’t tell the court that the guy who wrote the document Christopher Steele had already communicated to the Justice Department that he was “desperate to stop Trump from getting elected.” Guess what? There were 15 more lies that they told the court. 17 in total, they’re outlined by the inspector general, each and every one of them in his 400 page report but guess what? Chairman Nadler refuses to allow Mr. Horowitz to come here and testify and answer our questions about the 17 lies the Obama-Biden administration told to the secret court. The Obama-Biden DOJ opened the investigation in July, they used a secret agent lady to spy on Papadopoulos in August, they lied to the FISA court in September, and they did all this without any basis for launching the investigation to begin with.
Mr. Jordan: (11:12)
How do we know that? How do we know there was no basis? They told us. Now they didn’t want to tell us, but thanks to Rick Grenell who released the transcripts of their testimony, we now know there was no basis for them to start the investigation in the first place. Sally Yates, Rhodes, Samantha Power, Susan Rice. Here’s what Susan Rice says. “I don’t recall intelligence I would consider evidence of a conspiracy.” How about James Clapper? “I never saw any direct evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election.” Say that again, “I never saw evidence that the Trump campaign was conspiring,” and yet they investigate them. There was never a proper predicate, so why did they do it? There was no reason to do it, why did they do it? They told us that too. Peter Strzok, August 2016 asked, “Is Trump going to win?” What’s his response? Remember, this is Peter Strzok, this is the guy who ran the investigation. “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
Mr. Jordan: (12:13)
August, Peter Strzok says we’ll stop Trump, September they spy on Papadopoulos, October they use the fake dossier to lie to the court but guess what happens in November? Guess what happens in November? November 8, 2016, the American people get in their way. 63 million of them to be exact. Now everything changes. Now the real focus is, “Wow, wait a minute. We didn’t stop him. He won.” Now what do they have to do? They have to do the coverup, and who do they have to go after? Who is target number one in their coverup? The former head of the defense intelligence agency, the guy who’s about to become National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, Michael Flynn. They can’t have him hanging around because he’ll figure it out. So they decide to go after Michael Flynn, three-star general, served our country for over three decades. We know they went after him because they told us that too. Bill Priestap, head of counterintelligence at the FBI the day, the day they interview Flynn, January 24, 2017, his notes say what? “What’s our goal? To get Flynn to lie so we can prosecute him or to get him fired.”
Mr. Jordan: (13:20)
Think about what the Obama-Biden DOJ, what their administration did in the last month. The last month they were in power. January 4, the agents investigating Flynn want to drop the case, Comey tells them now. January 5, they have the now famous meeting in the Oval Office, Obama, Biden, Rice, Comey, all of them are in there, they’re plotting their strategy, how they’re going to get Flynn. January 6, Comey goes up to Trump Tower, briefs President-Elect Trump on the dossier that they already know was false just so they could leak it to the press and the press will write the story that they briefed the president on the dossier. Then of course January 24, the day they go set up Michael Flynn, set up Michael Flynn in his interview. Guess what else they did? Guess what else they did between Election Day and Inauguration Day? That two month time, guess what else they did? 38 people, 49 times unmasked Michael Flynn’s name. Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Biden. Seven people at the Treasury Department unmasked Michael Flynn’s name for goodness sake.
Mr. Jordan: (14:22)
Of course, Flynn resigns on February 13. Flynn resigns on February 13. Now the coverup is complete. Flynn’s gone, everything’s fine they think until May 9, 2017, when President Trump fires Jim Comey. Now they got a problem again. The guy who was going to keep it all quiet, he’s been fired. Now how do they continue the coverup? Real simple, Jim Comey leaks his memos with the express purpose of getting a special counsel appointed to investigate something they already know is not true and that’s exactly what happened. We get two years, 19 lawyers, 40 agents, 500 witnesses, 2,800 subpoenas and the 30 million cost to the taxpayer and they come back with nothing. Absolutely nothing. So all they got left is to attack the attorney general who had the courage to state the truth right from the get-go, the first time he testifies after he is confirmed, you guys attacking every day, every week, and now you filed articles of impeachment against him. It’s ridiculous. He had the courage to do what no one else would do at the Justice Department. Sally Yates wouldn’t call it spying, Jeff Sessions wouldn’t do it, Rod Rosenstein wouldn’t do it, Chris [inaudible 00:15:35] sure as heck isn’t going to do it.
Mr. Jordan: (15:38)
So Mr. Attorney General, I want to thank you for having the courage to call it what it was, spying. I’m going to thank you for having the courage to say we are going to get the politics out of the Department of Justice that was there in the previous administration, and maybe most importantly, and we’re going to talk about this on our side when questioning, I want to thank you for defending law enforcement. For pointing out what a crazy idea this defund the police policy whatever you want to call it is, and standing up for the rule of law and frankly we have a video we want to show that gets right to this point. Could we play that video please?
Speaker 1: (16:21)
[inaudible 00:16:21] how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly.
Speaker 2: (16:36)
Speaker 3: (16:37)
Speaker 4: (16:37)
Speaker 5: (16:38)
Speaker 6: (16:38)
Speaker 7: (16:38)
Speaker 8: (16:38)
Speaker 9: (16:38)
Speaker 10: (16:38)
Speaker 11: (16:38)
Speaker 12: (16:38)
Speaker 13: (16:38)
Speaker 14: (16:38)
Speaker 15: (16:38)
Speaker 16: (16:38)
Speaker 17: (16:39)
Speaker 18: (16:40)
Speaker 19: (16:41)
Speaker 20: (16:43)
On behalf of myself, my children and the family of David Dorn, we’d like to thank friends, neighbors, co-workers and the community for showing all the love and support we’ve suffered through the tragic loss of my husband, my beloved husband David Dorn. We’d also like to thank the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for their hard work and perseverance in this investigation, as well as the circuit attorney’s office. He dedicated his life to the city of St. Louis, retiring at the rank of captain after 38 years of distinguishable service, then as the chief of Moline Acres for almost six years. During those years he has touched so many lives as a friend, mentor, co-worker and guardian. His life was senselessly taken from me, from us, by an opportunist who had no regards for human life or the law. This didn’t have to happen but it must have been God’s plan for David.
Speaker 20: (18:06)
We need to come together as a community and do better. We need to teach our young people that life is very precious. We as a family are going to be taking some time to focus our attention on healing which is very important as we move forward. We would like David’s legacy to be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, colleague and most importantly a child of God. I want to thank you all for coming and God bless you all.
Mr. Nadler: (24:09)
Well I hope that Mr. Jordan will never complain about the length of my opening statement. Without objection, I am going to insert the committee’s audiovisual 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. Without objection, all other opening statements will be included in the record. I will now introduce today’s witnesses. William Barr has served as the attorney general of the United States since February 14, 2019 having previously served in the same position from 1991 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush. He also served as deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general of the office of legal counsel under the Bush administration, was a member of the domestic policy staff under President Reagan, served in the Central Intelligence Agency, and was a law clerk for Judge Malcolm Wilkie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Mr. Nadler: (25:13)
In addition to his significant public service, he also has extensive experience practicing law in the private sector. Attorney General Barr received his AB and MA from Columbia University and a JD from George Washington University School of Law. We welcome the attorney general and we thank him for participating today. Now if you would please rise, I will begin by swearing you in. Would you raise your right hand please? Or left hand. Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information and belief? So help you God. Let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative. Thank you and please be seated.
Mr. Nadler: (25:55)
Please note that your written statement will be entered into the record in its entirety. Accordingly I ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. To help you stay within that time, there is a timing light on your table. When the light switches from green to yellow, you have one minute to conclude your testimony. When the light turns red, it signals your five minutes have expired. Mr. Barr, you may begin.
Wiliam Barr: (26:19)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Good morning. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Jordan. I’m pleased to be here this morning. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I want to pay my respects to your colleague Congressman John Lewis, an indomitable champion of civil rights and the rule of law. I think it is especially important to remember today that he pursued his cause passionately and successfully with unwavering commitment to non-violence. As I said in my confirmation hearing, the attorney general has the unique obligation. He holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice. He must ensure that there is one standard of justice that applies to everyone equally and that criminal cases are handled evenhandedly based on the law and the facts and without regard to political or personal considerations.
Wiliam Barr: (27:15)
I can tell you that I have handled criminal matters that have come to me for decision in this way. The president has not attempted to interfere in these decisions. On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right and that is precisely what I’ve done. Indeed it’s precisely because I feel complete freedom to do what I think is right that induced me to serve once again as attorney general. As you just said Mr. Chairman I served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush and after that I spent many years in the corporate world. I’m almost 70 years old, I was almost 70 years old and slipping happily into retirement. I had nothing to prove and I had no desire to return to government. I had no prior relationship with President Trump.
Wiliam Barr: (28:08)
Let me turn briefly to the several pressing issues of the day. The horrible killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis understandably jarred the whole country and forced us to reflect on longstanding issues in the nation. Those issues obviously relate to the relationship between law enforcement and the African-American community. Given our history it’s understandable that among black Americans there is at least some ambivalence and often distrust toward the police. Until just the last 50 years ago or so, our laws and institutions were explicitly racist, explicitly discriminatory. It was not until the 60s that the Civil Rights Movement finally succeeded in tearing down the Jim Crow edifice. Our laws finally came to formally embody the guarantee of equal protection and since then the work of securing civil rights has rightly focused on reforming institutions to ensure they better conform to our laws and to our aspirations.
Wiliam Barr: (29:13)
That work, it’s important to acknowledge has been increasingly successful. Police forces today are far more diverse than they’ve ever been and there are both more black police chiefs and more black officers in the ranks. Although the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police was a shocking event, the fact is that these events are fortunately quite rare. According to statistics compiled by the Washington Post, the number of unarmed black men killed by police so far this year is eight. The number of unarmed white men killed by police over the same period of time is eleven, and the overall numbers of police shootings have been decreasing. Nevertheless every instance of excessive force is unacceptable and must be addressed appropriately through legal process as is happening now in Minneapolis.
Wiliam Barr: (30:05)
Apart from the numbers I think these events strike a deep chord in the black community because they are perceived as manifestations of a deeper, lingering concern that in encounters with police, blacks will not be treated evenhandedly. They will not be given the benefit of the doubt. They will be treated with greater suspicion. Senator Tim Scott has recounted the numerous times he’s been unjustifiably pulled over on Capitol Hill and as one prominent black professional in Washington said to me, African-Americans often feel treated as suspects first and citizens second, and I think these concerns are legitimate.
Wiliam Barr: (30:42)
At the same time I think it would be an oversimplification to treat the problem as rooted in some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments. It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors which can be addressed with focused attention over time and we in law enforcement must be conscious of the concerns and ensure that we do not have two systems of justice.
Wiliam Barr: (31:10)
Unfortunately some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like All Cops Are Bastards and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police. The demonization of the police is not only unfair and inconsistent with principles that all people should be treated as individuals but gravely injurious to the inner city communities. When communities turn on and pillory the police, officers naturally become more risk-averse and crime rates soar. Unfortunately we are seeing that now in many of our cities. The threat to black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police misconduct. The leading cause of death for young black males is homicide. Every year approximately 7,500 black Americans are victims of homicide. The vast majority of them, around 90%, are killed by other blacks, mainly by gunfire. Each of those lives matter.
Wiliam Barr: (32:18)
It is for this reason that in selected cities where there has been an upsurge in violent crime we are stepping up and bolstering the activities of our joint anti-crime task forces. Finally I want to address a different breakdown in the rule of law that we’ve witnessed over the past two months. 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. Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters have laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property. The rioters have
Wiliam Barr: (33:03)
And other nearby federal property, the riders have come equipped for fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledge, hammers, saws, knives, or rifles and explosive devices. Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel charged with the defensive mission to protect the courthouse. What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protest, it is by any objective measure an assault on the government of the United States. 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 the destruction of federal property. Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate your listing for me the areas of concern in your opening statement, and I’m looking forward to addressing them all.
Mr. Nadler: (34:07)
Thank you for your testimony. We will not proceed under the five minute rule with questions, and I will recognize myself for five minutes. On July 22nd, you joined the President as he announced the expansion of Operation Legend, an initiative… Let me start that again. On July 22nd, you joined the President as he announced the expansion of Operation Legend, an initiative to combat violent crime in Kansas City with approximately $61 million in DOJ grants. I am confused, however, as the purpose of launching Operation Legend at this moment in time.
Mr. Nadler: (34:45)
In December of last year, you announced that the department would divert over $70 million in grants to seven US cities under an initiative called Operation Relentless Pursuit, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (34:56)
Mr. Nadler: (34:58)
And Operation Relentless Pursuit targeted a familiar list of cities, places like Albuquerque, Baltimore and Kansas City, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (35:05)
Mr. Nadler: (35:06)
At the same July 22nd press conference, you initially claimed that over 200 arrests had been made under operation legend, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (35:16)
Mr. Nadler: (35:17)
Wiliam Barr: (35:19)
Mr. Nadler: (35:20)
The US Attorney’s Office to the Western District of Missouri later confirmed that only a single arrest had been made under the auspices of Operation Legend. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (35:29)
I don’t know.
Mr. Nadler: (35:31)
And a 199 other arrests were made under Relentless Pursuit or other programs. Well, that was correct. I think you could be forgiven for being confused, Operation legend appears to be a little more than a repackaging of existing operations in these cities. So why all the drama? Why join the President at the White House to announce a bold new operation that appears to be neither bold nor new? Understandably, Americans are very suspicious of your motives here. There are those who believe you are sending federal law enforcement into these cities, not to combat violent crime, but to help with the President’s reelection efforts.
Mr. Nadler: (36:09)
The President has made clear that he wants conflict between protesters and police to be essential claim at the central theme of his campaign. So let me ask you directly, Mr. Barr, yes or no. Did you rebrand existing projects under [inaudible 00:36:27] legend in order to assist the President in an election year? Mr. Attorney General, would you agree with me at least on principle that it is improper for the department of justice to divert resources and law enforcement personnel in an effort to assist the President’s reelection campaign?
Wiliam Barr: (36:45)
No. Mr. Chairman, in the fall, we did inaugurate an anti-crime initiative because we were concerned about increasing violent crime in a number of cities. And we call that relentless pursuit. Unfortunately, COVID intervened, and our agents who were detailed for these assignments could not perform the operation. So the operation was squelched by COVID. So we couldn’t complete or make much progress on Relentless Pursuit. However, in the intervening time we saw a violent crime continuing to rise, and a lot of that was triggered by the events after the death of George Floyd.
Wiliam Barr: (37:29)
So we did reboot the program after COVID started breaking, and we could commit the law enforcement resources to actually accomplish the mission, which is to reduce violent crime. Now I regret that COVID interrupted our law enforcement activities, but it doesn’t obviate the fact that there is serious violent crime in these cities. These police [inaudible 00:37:54] and mayors have been asking us for help, and we have put in additional federal agents and investigators to help deal with it.
Mr. Nadler: (38:07)
Yes or no, have you discussed the President’s reelection campaign with the President, or with any White House official, or any surrogate of the President?
Wiliam Barr: (38:16)
Well, I’m not going to get into my discussions with the President.
Mr. Nadler: (38:18)
Well, have you discussed that topic with him, yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (38:21)
Not in relation to this program.
Mr. Nadler: (38:24)
I didn’t ask that. I asked if you discussed that-
Wiliam Barr: (38:26)
I’m a member of the cabinet, and there’s an election going on, obviously the topic comes up.
Mr. Nadler: (38:30)
So the answer is yes?
Wiliam Barr: (38:31)
The topic comes up in cabinet meetings and other things, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the topic of the election comes up.
Mr. Nadler: (38:38)
I didn’t say I was surprised, I just asked if you’d done that. So as part of those conversations with the President or his people about the reelection campaign, have you ever discussed the current or future deployment of federal law enforcement?
Wiliam Barr: (38:52)
In connection with what?
Mr. Nadler: (38:54)
In connection with what you just said. In connection with your discussions with the President or with other people around him of his reelection campaign, have you discussed the current or future deployment of federal law enforcement?
Wiliam Barr: (39:07)
As I said I’m not going to get into my discussions with the President, but I’ve made it clear that I would like to pick the cities based on law enforcement need and based on neutral criteria.
Mr. Nadler: (39:15)
You can’t tell me whether you discussed-
Wiliam Barr: (39:17)
No, I’m not going to discuss what I discussed with the President.
Mr. Nadler: (39:20)
Can you commit today that the department will not use federal law enforcement as a prop in the President’s reelection campaign?
Wiliam Barr: (39:26)
We are not using federal law enforcement.
Mr. Nadler: (39:27)
I just want to close with this thought. You really can’t hide behind legal fictions this time, Mr. Barr, it’s all out in the open, where the people can see what you are doing for themselves. The President wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered. In most of these cities, the protests had begun to wind down before you marched in and confronted the protestors, and the protestors aren’t mobs, they are mothers, and veterans, and mayors.
Mr. Nadler: (39:58)
In this moment, real leadership would entailed deescalation, collaboration and looking for ways to peaceably resolve our differences. Instead you used pepper spray, and truncheons on American citizens. You did it here in Washington, you did it at Lafayette Square, you expand it to Portland, and now you’re projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives. Shame on you, Mr. Barr. Shame on you.
Wiliam Barr: (40:26)
Can I just say-
Mr. Nadler: (40:27)
My time has expired. For what purpose does Mr. [inaudible 00:40:32] seek recognition?
Speaker 22: (40:33)
No, Mr. Johnson.
Wiliam Barr: (40:35)
Can I just have one moment?
Mr. Nadler: (40:36)
My time has expired. For what purpose does Mr. Johnson seek recognition.
Congressman Johnson: (40:42)
Questions for the witness, and I will yield the floor to him to respond.
Wiliam Barr: (40:46)
Mr. Chairman you’ve conflated two different things. The effort like Legend is to deal with violent crime, crime that’s committing on the streets of the city. Again, predatory violence, like murder shootings, which are soaring in some cities right now. That does not involve encountering protestors, as you refer to it. Civil disturbance is a different set of issues. And I just reject the idea that the department is flooded anywhere and attempted to suppress demonstrators. We make a clear distinction between demonstrators [crosstalk 00:08:22], and the fact of the matter is if you take Portland, Portland, the courthouse is under attack, the federal resources are inside the perimeter around the courthouse, defending it from almost two months of daily attacks where people March to the court, try to gain entrance and have set fires, thrown things, used explosives and injured police, including, just this past weekend, perhaps permanently blinding three federal officers with lasers. We are on the defense, we’re not out looking for trouble. And if the State and the city would provide the law enforcement services at other jurisdictions still, we would have no need to have additional Marshals in the courtroom.
Congressman Johnson: (42:14)
On behalf of hundreds of millions of Americans, thank you for that clarification, and thank you for being here, and thank you for your service today, and your willingness to do this in very challenging times. Mr. Attorney General, we’re very appreciative. It’s not an easy job, it’s a vitally important one. I so appreciated what you said in your opening statement today, which is what you said in your confirmation hearing, the Attorney General has a unique obligation, he holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice. We appreciate that so much. The Democrats have asserted here this morning, and they continue to say in the media that under your leadership, the Justice Department has become highly politicized. Why is that a totally unfounded allegation?
Wiliam Barr: (42:55)
Because actually what we’re trying to do is restore the Rule Of Law. And the Rule Of Law is had at essence that we have one rule for everybody. If you apply one rule to A, the same rule applies to B. And I felt we didn’t have that previously at the department, we had strayed. And I would just ask people… I’m supposedly punishing the President’s enemies and helping his friends. What enemies have I indicted? Could you point to one indictment that has been under the department that you feel is unmerited, that you feel violates the Rule Of Law. One indictment.
Wiliam Barr: (43:35)
Now, you say I helped the President’s friends, the cases that are cited, the Stone Case, and the Flynn Case, both cases where I determined that some intervention was necessary to rectify the Rule Of Law to make sure people are treated the same. I said, Stone was prosecuted under me, and I said all along, I thought that was a righteous prosecution, I thought he should go to jail, and I thought the judges sentence was correct, but the lying prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice. Anyone else in a similar position had ever served, and this is a 67 year old man, first time offender, no violence, and they were trying to put him in jail for seven to nine years. And I wasn’t going to advocate that because that is not the rule of law.
Wiliam Barr: (44:26)
I agree the President’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people, and sometimes that’s a difficult decision to make, especially when you’re going to be castigated for it. But that is what the rule of law is, and that’s what fairness to the individual ultimately comes to, being willing to do what’s fair to the individual.
Congressman Johnson: (44:49)
Amen, and thank you for that. And by contrast, what the previous DOJ did under the previous administration was politicized law enforcement. The Obama Biden administration sabotage the Trump transition, they illegally spied on the Trump campaign, they unmasked members of the Trump campaign. They employed aggressive tactics on their campaign officials. Senior FBI officials, we all know on this committee, carried over from the Obama administration, carried on their abuses into the Trump administration, and into the whole impeachment scam and all the rest. Let me ask you just one question because my time is running out. President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, famously referred to himself as President Obama’s wingman. He said in an interview quote, ” I’m still enjoying what I’m doing. There’s still work to be done. I’m still the President’s wingman, so I’m there with my boy.” That’s what he said famously. Is it the duty of the Attorney General to be the President’s wingman?
Wiliam Barr: (45:41)
No, I’ve already described what I think the duty of the Attorney General is.
Congressman Johnson: (45:45)
And in your office, you are then free to act independently of the President. Isn’t that true?
Wiliam Barr: (45:50)
That is true, particularly on criminal cases, it’s required.
Congressman Johnson: (45:53)
And that’s exactly what he has asked you to do, isn’t hat right?
Wiliam Barr: (45:56)
Congressman Johnson: (45:57)
I have no further questions. I yield Back. Thank you.
Mr. Nadler: (45:59)
You have no further questions, your time is expired. Ms. Lofgren.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: (46:06)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Attorney General, It’s obvious what is [inaudible 00:46:10] from the video played during the ranking members opening remarks, it’s clear that the President’s playbook is to divert attention from his catastrophic failure in dealing with the COVID-19 [inaudible 00:13:29]. In Canada, our neighbor to the North, in Europe, the virus has been reduced to such a level that people can safely go out and not worry about being infected, but here in the United States, millions of Americans have been infected, tens of thousands are dying, and the President needs to divert from that failure. And it is just a playbook. The playbook is to create the impression that there is violence that he must send in federal troops, and that the American people should be afraid of other Americans, and trust the President because he’s going to [inaudible 00:47:13] troops to American cities, and that’s how he hopes to win the election.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: (47:20)
It’s one thing to fight crime [inaudible 00:47:23] taskforce, that involves the cooperation of State and local officials. But the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland has asked that the federal troops leave because the reaction has actually been in reverse proportion, people are showing up because the troops are there. And I’d like to say that so many of them, I would say most of them are nonviolent. We’ve all heard about the wall of moms who show up to make sure that people are safe. And here’s what they say, they say they’d been teargassed night after night, left vomiting, that they’d been shot at with rubber bullets, bean bags, pepper spray. So this brutality has created even more demonstrators. I just like to ask you this, when the President [inaudible 00:48:21] his executive order, they indicated your department should prioritize investigations. Has your department started getting any investigation pursuant to the executive order that the President issued?
Wiliam Barr: (48:36)
Which executive order Congresswoman?
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: (48:38)
The executive order that asked for the deployment of the troops to protect the monuments and the federal facility, on June, 26th?
Wiliam Barr: (48:52)
I wouldn’t say it was troops, but we have initiated investigations, yes. We’ve made arrests of people who have been rioting and taken down statues. But I think your characterization of Portland is completely false.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: (49:14)
We can get into that, but I’d like to ask you a question about surveillance, if I may. We’ve heard reports that cell site stimulators known as Sting Rays or Dirt Boxes are being used to collect phone call location, and even the content of phone calls, [inaudible 00:49:32] are being used that may have facial recognition or cellphone [inaudible 00:49:37] technology, and that there is bulk collection of internet browsing history. What specific authority is the department using for its surveillance tools?
Wiliam Barr: (49:51)
I really can’t speak to those instances if they in fact occurred. I’m glad to go and try to determine what you’re talking about.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: (50:00)
Actually, I’m asking you about authority, not the details [inaudible 00:50:03].
Wiliam Barr: (50:02)
Well, I think the most of our cyber activities are conducted by the FBI under their law enforcement powers to detect and prevent crime, federal crime.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: (50:16)
I think the American public should know that this surveillance technique isn’t just about the people in front of the courthouse. A husband and wife call each other, and one of the spouses has a cell phone that’s within range of one of these technology, not only the location but the actual content of that couple’s conversation can be scooped up using this technology. So this really isn’t just about demonstrating, this is about the privacy of all Americans, and it’s all being violated for the President’s political purposes of trying to create a scene, create a reason, divert attention from the COVID failure. I think it’s really very unfortunate and a disservice to the [inaudible 00:51:08]. Mr. Chairman my time has expired.
Mr. Nadler: (51:13)
[inaudible 00:51:13] yields back.
Speaker 23: (51:15)
Mr. Chairman, point of order.
Mr. Nadler: (51:17)
Real quick, I’m going to state his point of order.
Speaker 23: (51:19)
Could you ask those members who choose not to come to work, to silence their cell phones on the video, because it’s distracting to what we’re doing here today.
Mr. Nadler: (51:25)
That is not a point of order. I now recognize Mr. Chabot.
Congressman Chabot: (51:33)
Mr. Attorney General, would it be accurate to say that it’s this administration’s responsibility, and of course, you’re part of the administration, to see that federal laws are upheld, and that the federal property is secure and safe and protected. Is that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (51:50)
That’s right Congressmen, they’re distinct missions. One mission is to enforce federal law, and by the way, the Federal Government is the sovereign of the United States, we have two sovereigns here in the United States, and we enforce the Federal Law all over the country, every square foot of the country, we enforce Federal Law. The other is protecting federal property, and specifically US court houses, which are the heart of federal property in all 93 jurisdictions in the United States. And we have the obligation to protect federal courts, and the US Marshals specifically have been given that obligation.
Wiliam Barr: (52:27)
Federal courts are under attack, since when is it okay to try to burn down a federal court. 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, and to start a fire, throw kerosene balloons in, and start fires in the court, is that okay? Is that okay now? No, the US 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. We’re not out looking for trouble.
Congressman Chabot: (53:04)
Thank you general. And as far as weapons and devices that were utilized by the group of people, and you mentioned, trying to destroy the courthouse, they were literally trying to burn it down, and apparently didn’t give a hoot about the people that were occupied in the building as well. So people were in danger.
Wiliam Barr: (53:23)
That is absolutely right.
Congressman Chabot: (53:25)
So as far as the weapons that you mentioned, let me get this straight, my understanding is that the people attacking the building had, among other things, rifles, explosives, knives, saws, sledgehammers, tasers, slingshots, rocks, bricks, lasers. Have I missed anything or does that about cover it?
Wiliam Barr: (53:47)
You have missed some things, but that’s a good list. They have these powerful slingshots with ball bearings that they shoot. They’ve used pellet guns. We believe we have found those projectiles have penetrated Marshals to the bone. And they use the lasers to blind the Marshals. They do start fires, they start fires if they can get the fire inside or through the windows. And they start far as along the outside of the courthouse. When the Marshals come out to try to deal with a fire, they’re assaulted.
Congressman Chabot: (54:28)
General, if local elected officials, mayors, and city councils, and governors did their jobs and kept the peace, would it even be necessary for federal law enforcement personnel to be there in the first place?
Wiliam Barr: (54:43)
No. And that’s exactly the point, look around the country, even where there are these kinds of riots occurring, we haven’t had to put in the reinforcements that we have in Portland because the State and local law enforcement does their job, and won’t allow riders to come and just physically assault the courthouse. In Portland that’s not the case.
Congressman Chabot: (55:08)
General, some have derisively referred to these law enforcement personnel as stormtroopers and worse. Does that accurately describe them. or Would you like to set the record straight?
Wiliam Barr: (55:20)
No, they’re obviously not stormtroopers. Normally we would have a group of Deputy Marshals in a court that would be in business suits and ties or regular civilian dress, those would be the Deputy Marshals as the protective force for the court. But after almost a month of rioting in Portland, we sent in, I think it was around the 4th of July timeframe, we sent in about 20 special operations Marshals, and those are tactical teams that are padded and protected so they could deal with this thing. Up until last week, I was told we had, our stormtrooper from the Department of Justice amounted to 29 Marshals in the courthouse, 29 Marshals.
Wiliam Barr: (56:08)
Until recently increased, I think there were 95, I was told, 95 DHS and federal protective service and other DHS officers trying to protect the courthouse and three other buildings. That’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to protect federal functions and federal buildings, which are very small part of the city, but the rioters go at them, and we have gradually increased our numbers there to try to protect those facilities. If the State would come in and keep peace on the streets in front of the courthouse, we wouldn’t need people at the courthouse.
Congressman Chabot: (56:47)
Thank you General. My time has expired.
Mr. Nadler: (56:49)
Gentleman’s time has expired. Ms. Jackson Lee.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (56:52)
Mr. Chairman, before I begin, I’d like to submit into the record a picture of Lewis and Clark History Department chair, shot at protests in Portland. And it’s unanimous consent. Place that into the record. John Lewis, in 1963, said, “We are tired about being beat by police, we’re tired of being put in jail. We want our freedom now.” Mr. Attorney General, in your remarks, you indicated that we’ve made great progress since that time, and you indicated that the killing of George Floyd was shocking. I disagree. It was outright coldblooded murder on the streets of America, unfortunately, by police misconduct. You seem to have a difficult time understanding systemic racism and institutional racism that has plagued so many. Mr. Attorney General, do you understand a black mothers or parents talk to their child to their son? Do you know what that is?
Wiliam Barr: (57:49)
I think I do.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (57:52)
I don’t know if you do, but Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Alberry, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and George Floyd. Black mothers and fathers have had to talk to their sons about police violence. I take no back seat to the history of this committee that has stood for good policing, not misconduct. And so I asked you this question, does the Trump Justice Department seek to end systemic racism and racism in law enforcement? I just need a yes or no answer.
Wiliam Barr: (58:21)
To the extent there is racism in any of our institutions in this country and the police, then obviously this administration will fully enforce [crosstalk 00:25:30].
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (58:29)
So you agree that there may be systemic racism?
Wiliam Barr: (58:33)
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (58:34)
Let me continue my line of questioning.
Wiliam Barr: (58:36)
I don’t agree that there’s systemic racism in the police departments, but generally in this country.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (58:42)
I’m reclaiming my time Mr. General. Specifically, do you understand the violent impact or racial profiling, and do you support the racial profiling, racial and religious profiling, in the George Floyd Bill, including the removal of the strict interpretation of qualified immunity, which would leave individuals like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd without any relief at all?
Wiliam Barr: (59:05)
No, I’m opposed to eliminating qualified immunity, and I don’t agree that it would leave the victims of police misconduct-
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (59:12)
Well, let me share with you some aspect-
Wiliam Barr: (59:14)
… without any remedy at all.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (59:15)
I’m reclaiming my time. Let me share with you some aspects of profiling. After the death of George Floyd found that while black people make up 19% of the Minneapolis population and 9% of its police, they were on the receiving end of 58% of the city’s police use of force incidents. In addition, we’ve seen that black men are twice as likely to be stopped and searched, Hispanic drivers, 65%, just to receive a ticket, and Native Americans in Arizona, three times more likely to search and be stopped. Let me ask you the questions of how we respond to that. The Justice Department has many tools that this proposal is to reduce police violence to patent or practice investigations, a practice to end bad policing and police violence. It addresses police violence at an institution level rather than just focuses on acute cases. If you understand that, then why has your department only pursued one pattern on practice investigation, since President Trump took office, that could stop systemic racism?
Wiliam Barr: (01:00:20)
If you read my statement or listened to my statement, I did specifically acknowledge that there was a difficulty in this country with the African American Community-
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (01:00:32)
Mr. Attorney General, I have short time. Can you just tell me why you have not done a patent in practice? What was the reason?
Wiliam Barr: (01:00:40)
And you asked me what I thought the response was. And I thought the response to this is in fact training of police, and I think the police believe that that’s the response. I was talking to a black-
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (01:00:55)
Mr. Attorney General, I want to respect you, but I have a short time, for example, 18 USC Section 242, which makes unlawful the denial of rights under the color of law. Can you defend the fact that in the first seven months of FY 2020, federal prosecutors filed only 242 charges in just 27 cases in the Trump DOJ, and were you aware that an FY 2019 federal prosecutors brought two section 242 charges in just 49 cases in the United States? And are you aware of how many cases we’ve had, 184,274, which means that in FY in 2019, only about 27 out of every hundred thousand prosecutions was related to Section 242 charges, do you have a reason for that?
Wiliam Barr: (01:01:44)
Yes, I do. I will get you the numbers on it. I don’t know them of the top of my head, but actually our criminal prosecutions under 241 and 242 are extremely strong, and are comparable to if not exceed prior administrations. But at the beginning of this year, most of the very few jurisdictions had grand juries that were open. No grand juries.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee: (01:02:05)
I think the reason is because it was really skinny, was not your focus. Your focus was more to let out friends like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, while Tamir Rice, whose case has not been taken up, was playing with a toy gun, was killed by police at the age of 12. Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her apartment when she was killed by police at age 26, and the Rashad Brooks, 27, was killed just for sleeping in his car in a Wendy’s parking lot, and George Floyd from Houston, Texas, known as a humble man, was murdered in the streets of Minneapolis crying, “I can’t breathe.” I would hope that the DOJ would focus on systemic institutional racism, because there is good policing. That’s what we’re trying to do in the justice and the judiciary committee, and 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 Lake iconic John Lewis. With that I yield back.
Mr. Nadler: (01:03:00)
The gentlelady yield back. Mr. Gohmert.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:03:06)
Attorney General Barr, we’ve been hearing about these peaceful protests in major cities around the country controlled by the democratic mayors and city councils. You’ve had a lot of experience, have you ever seen so many people hurt, injured and killed at peaceful protests in your life?
Wiliam Barr: (01:03:35)
I haven’t seen it. No, not at a peaceful protest, obviously, as I’ve said from the beginning, these peaceful protests in many places are being hijacked by a very hardcore of instigators, violent instigators. And they become violent and their primary direction of violence has to injure police. Police casualties far exceed anything on the civilian side.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:04:05)
Weren’t there over 50 police injured in Chicago, just in recent days. And now I’m hearing this allegation that this administration is helping spread Coronavirus, COVID-19, and yet these are some of the same people that just castigated the President for shutting down travel from the location where the virus was coming from, and now it’s something more interested in defending the Chinese Communist Party than they are our own country.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:04:40)
But what occurred to me hearing this allegation about this administration helping spread COVID, would it be a good idea then perhaps if that’s the big concern here that may be the Federal Government should shut down the protests during this COVID-19 spread so that we can satisfy our colleagues that you’re doing more to stop it. Has that ever been a consideration?
Wiliam Barr: (01:05:11)
No, I’ve never considered that.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:05:13)
Well, it would apparently stop some of the allegations being thrown here. Now I know history, going back to 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Mau Revolution, some of these tactics we’re seeing are not new, trying to get… Even David Horowitz, I introduced one time as a former social, he said, “No, I was a full blown communist.” But he has pointed out that he started looking away from the group he was in because he saw they were interested in trying to provoke the police to kill somebody so that they could really create mayhem. You’re familiar with that tactic by Marxists. Are you not?
Wiliam Barr: (01:05:58)
Congressman Gohmert: (01:06:00)
It is a dangerous time. Well, let me ask you.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:06:02)
It is a dangerous time. Well, let me ask you, I know you know that US attorneys are supposed to serve at the pleasure of the president. You know Bill Clinton fired 93 US attorneys on the same day. Do you know what made US Attorney Berman think that he was the exception who did not serve at the pleasure of the president? What caused him to think he owned that position?
Wiliam Barr: (01:06:30)
I think part of it was, he seems to have had the view that because he was court-appointed, and there is a provision in law for court appointment of a US attorney as essentially a placeholder until the administration gets somebody, that he felt he could not be removed by the president, because he was court-appointed, and that’s not correct.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:06:52)
Yeah, and some judges fail to know what my constitutional law professor knew, and that is that all courts except federal courts, except for one, owe their existence and continuation and jurisdiction to the US Congress. Hopefully Mr. Berman will figure that out at some point. Now is Bruce Ohr still working for the FBI?
Wiliam Barr: (01:07:20)
He works for the Department of Justice.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:07:26)
We have heard so much information about his basically being the go between, between the DNC, the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, the Russian propaganda that were incorporated into his dossier, and I know Kleinsmith, Christopher Ray, indicated he had been given the chance to resign, go get a better job. I’m wondering how long Bruce Ohr is going to be staying where he is. It’s incredible to me that he’s still there.
Wiliam Barr: (01:08:03)
I can’t talk about individual personnel matters.
Congressman Gohmert: (01:08:08)
Well, thank you for your service. I am sorry for the abuse you’ve taken when you’re just trying to do your job. Appreciate it very much. Yield back.
Speaker 24: (01:08:18)
The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Tennessee for five minutes.
Speaker 25: (01:08:24)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Barr, I’m the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, so this is most pertinent hearing to me. Firstly, I’d like to ask you if you will work with us and allow the head of the civil rights division, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband band to testify before this committee this fall?
Wiliam Barr: (01:08:44)
I’ll talk to him about it.
Speaker 25: (01:08:47)
Will you encourage him?
Wiliam Barr: (01:08:49)
I’ll talk to him about it.
Speaker 25: (01:08:51)
All right. I’ve closely watched actions taken by the federal government in Lafayette Park in June and currently in Portland, Oregon. According to a DOJ document dated June 4 received by this committee, 1500 federal agents from 10 different agencies were deployed to confront protestors in Washington, DC at Lafayette Park, which has long been honored and accepted as a place of protest in our nation’s capitol. On the first day of June, the world watched in horror on live television as federal agents deployed by the administration, and with you present and telling him to get it done, used force to clear Lafayette Park so that the president, with you and others at your side, could walk across the park and have a photo op in front of St. John’s church.
Speaker 25: (01:09:34)
This was anathema to the bishop of the diocese and the rector of the church. It was also an affront to the constitution and to the American people. Given the timing and the coordinated attack against the peaceful demonstrators, it’s strange credulity that this was not planned for use of political purposes. And just yesterday, Major DeMarco testified to another committee of Congress that the protestors were peaceful, and that’s what the majority of people have said, and the response was excessive. When did you first learn that the president planned to walk through the park and go to St. John’s church?
Wiliam Barr: (01:10:11)
First, I’d like to respond to what you…
Speaker 25: (01:10:13)
Would you please answer my question? My time is limited.
Wiliam Barr: (01:10:16)
I learned sometime in the afternoon that the president might come out of the White House, and then later in the afternoon, and I heard that he might go over to the church.
Speaker 25: (01:10:27)
So it was absolutely necessary the park be cleared for his-
Wiliam Barr: (01:10:29)
No, that had nothing to do with that. The plan to move the perimeter [crosstalk 01:10:33]
Speaker 25: (01:10:33)
Mr. Attorney General, it was necessary that the park be cleared and it was done. And you said, “Get it done.” I have the time. Thank you. In Portland, we’ve seen mothers and we’ve seen veterans who were peacefully protesting, not threatening the federal courthouse, beaten and gassed. Unidentified armed federal agents violently attacked demonstrators in a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of assembly, and arrested citizens without individualized suspicion in a violation of Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and a warrant requirement. You’ve gone through the Fifth Amendment and due process and just negated it. And the Tenth Amendment, which leaves general policing to the law enforcement to the state has been forgotten. Maybe what happened was your secret police were poorly trained, just like your Bureau of Prisons guards were poorly trained, and allowed the most notorious inmate in our nation’s last several years, Jeffrey Epstein, to conveniently commit suicide. Sad.
Speaker 25: (01:11:32)
You misled Congress and the American people about Special Counsel Mueller’s findings with your quote, summary, unquote of his report. It was issued about a month before you released the redacted portion of the Mueller report. But you set the stage. You set the stage such that the special counsel objected to the accuracy of how it was reported by the press and what you said. And Federal Judge Reggie Walton, appointed by George W. Bush, declared in a ruling that your summary was quote, distorted, unquote, and misleading, unquote, and that the court could not trust you. Further, Judge Walton stated your report was quote, a calculated attempt to influence public disclosure about the Mueller report in favor president Trump, unquote. This committee still does not have the unredacted Mueller report. America has still not seen the unredacted Mueller report. Your excuses for not releasing it because it had to do with ongoing cases no longer exists because those ongoing cases have been completed or commuted or finished.
Speaker 25: (01:12:33)
Other attorney general’s worked with this judiciary committee to see that the American public and that the judiciary committee had unredacted copies of that report. You have not. You’ve gone to court to stall it. This report needs to be given to this committee. And Michael Cohen, you have treated him differently than Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn, you’ve attempted to dismiss the charges, even after he twice pled guilty. And to Roger Stone, you went further. Mr. Barr, John Lewis said to us, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” That’s why I introduced H.Res. 1032, which would require this committee to investigate your conduct as attorney general, and determine whether you should be impeached. That is my constitutional duty. Are you [inaudible 01:13:21] the balance of my time?
Speaker 24: (01:13:24)
Wiliam Barr: (01:13:25)
May I respond to these?
Speaker 25: (01:13:27)
[inaudible 01:13:27] recognition.
Speaker 24: (01:13:28)
I’m sorry, what did you… The chair recognizes Mr. Cohen.
Speaker 25: (01:13:30)
I would like to seek recognition for unanimous consent requests.
Speaker 24: (01:13:35)
Yes. You are recognized.
Speaker 25: (01:13:35)
Thank you. I’d like to introduce for the record a Slate article entitled Why Trump Chose Portland, which describes the racial history of the state and the Portland Police Bureau. I’d also like to introduce an op-ed from Mary McCord, who writes her words were twisted to justify the department’s disingenuous position to drop charges against Michael Flynn after he had already pled guilty. I’d like to introduce an op-ed from Jonathan Kravis describing the political interference in the Roger Stone case, and why he resigned from the Department of Justice. And I’d like to introduce a statement from over 2,600 former DOJ officials calling for Attorney General Barr’s resignation because of his assault on the rule of law, and a letter from the New York City Bar urging Congress to commence formal inquiries in a pattern of conduct by Attorney General Barr that threatens public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.
Speaker 25: (01:14:19)
And finally, a letter from 27 of the District of Columbia’s most prominent attorneys and law professors, including four past presidents of the DC bar, calling for an ethics investigation into Mr. Barr’s conduct.
Speaker 24: (01:14:29)
Speaker 25: (01:14:31)
Last but not least, a letter from over 80% of the George Washington University Law School faculty, your alma mater saying, “His actions have posed and continue to create a clear and present danger to the evenhanded administration of justice, to civil liberties, and the constitutional [crosstalk 01:14:44].
Speaker 24: (01:14:45)
Okay. Without objection.
Speaker 26: (01:14:46)
Madame Chair, one more unanimous consent request on this side.
Speaker 24: (01:14:51)
Speaker 26: (01:14:51)
This is the article that says Representative Jerry Nadler says Antifa violence in Portland is a myth. That’s from Politico and a number of other journalists. Put that in the record. Thank you.
Speaker 24: (01:14:59)
Without objection. Mr. Collins is recognized for five minutes.
Mr. Collins: (01:15:02)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Welcome, Attorney General Barr. Wow. I’m beginning to believe, frankly, that you’re probably… It just hadn’t come out yet. Probably will in a little bit. You’re probably the cause of the common cold, and possibly, even the COVID-19. I’m not sure at this point, because everything’s being thrown at you, including now, undoubtedly your alma mater doesn’t like you anymore. Where have we come? The chairman said something earlier today that really made me think. He said, “Why all the drama?” That’s the most ironic statement coming from this committee in the last 18 months that I’ve ever heard of, the drama that we’re bringing up today.
Mr. Collins: (01:15:32)
We’re seeming to just contort ourselves to get to some way to show that you have nefarious motive. I believe, like some of our side here, I believe the biggest problem you have is telling the truth. I believe that’s the problem that they have with you. You’ll tell the truth, and you’ll take the responsibility for your actions, and I think that’s why you’re being attacked. But I want to continue just on this quote, peaceful protest for a second. You made a comment just a second ago [inaudible 01:15:56] Talking about a courthouse that’s just down the street, what if they decided, do you think that this body right here would rise up if they decided to go tonight and paint the Capitol Building?
Wiliam Barr: (01:16:05)
This body? I’m not sure.
Mr. Collins: (01:16:06)
I think this side would. I’m not sure… Yeah, this other side, I’m not so sure. It may be the peaceful protest to burn down the Capitol. Maybe we’re back to 1812 again. But also the other question I have is, and you’ve heard it earlier today, the storm trooper comments by the Speaker of the House, and we know that that is a direct reference to the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, stormtroopers going at it. Do you believe that that actually puts our law enforcement community at a whole… As the son of a state trooper, I want to know your opinion. Don’t you think it encourages the violence that we’re seeing and encourages the participation against the police?
Wiliam Barr: (01:16:38)
I think that’s possible. And I think it’s irresponsible to call these federal law enforcement officers stormtroopers.
Mr. Collins: (01:16:44)
Yeah. And we’re seeing that thing played out over and over. Let’s switch back to something else, though, that is, I think, more appealing here. We’ve talked about the investigations, and especially with going with Flynn, do you believe that there was actually a basis to go after General Flynn? What we’ve seen so far, what’s been released, and especially keeping an investigation open, Peter Strzok kept it open. Do you believe there’s actually a basis for the beginning of this investigation to start with, or continuing it?
Wiliam Barr: (01:17:09)
Well, I would just say, I asked another US attorney in St. Louis who had 10 years in the FBI and 10 years in the Department of Justice as a career prosecutor to take a look at it. And he determined, based on documents that had not been provided to Flynn’s side and not been provided to the court that in fact there was no basis to investigate Flynn. And furthermore, it was clearly established by the documents that the FBI agents who interviewed him did not believe that he thought he was lying.
Mr. Collins: (01:17:42)
Well, there’s another part of this as well that concerns what has been given to the courts and in the interviews, and that is that the facts were not disclosed to Flynn prior to the interview. That seems like a Brady violation, to me. Do you believe that there’s a Brady violation there in this case? [crosstalk 01:17:56]
Wiliam Barr: (01:17:56)
No, there wasn’t a Brady violation there, but I think what the council concluded was that the only purpose of the interview, the only purpose was to try to catch him in saying something that they could then say was a lie.
Mr. Collins: (01:18:10)
So it was entrapment [crosstalk 01:18:07].
Wiliam Barr: (01:18:11)
And therefore there was not a legit… The interview was untethered to any legitimate investigation.
Mr. Collins: (01:18:18)
So as the law enforcement officer in this country, it is your responsibility to provide justice for both sides, not, and just call it as it should be. And I think that’s what you’ve done there.
Mr. Collins: (01:18:27)
Continue on Durham case, and I know we’re not talking specifically about the Durham investigation which we’re hopeful of, but to your knowledge, and we’re seeing some release documents in the last week or two that have said, to your knowledge, has Kevin Clinesmith or anyone else at FBI or DOJ attempted, who was previously there, attempted to redeem themselves by cooperating with the investigation? It’s been slow, and I just want to…
Wiliam Barr: (01:18:47)
I can’t get into that.
Mr. Collins: (01:18:48)
Okay. I understand that. I have another issue as we finish up in looking at this, between the rhetoric, between the investigation, I think Durham investigation is something most of us are waiting for because we can’t seem to get this committee to actually believe that the IG’s report is worth having something about this committee. And there’s not a Democrat or Republican inside that can make a legitimate claim why the inspector general has not been called before this committee to actually explain his report except politics.
Mr. Collins: (01:19:12)
And that’s what this committee has become all along. But I have another problem. And I’ve talked to you, I’ve written to you about this, and that’s [inaudible 01:19:18] with the district attorney down in Fulton County, Georgia, actually charging, making felony murder charges on an officer. And the interesting part about this is what we do as prosecutors do, but were you aware that the district attorney failed to seek an indictment from a grand jury or even waited for a GBI investigation to finish before bringing those charges? Were you aware of that?
Wiliam Barr: (01:19:37)
Yes, I was.
Mr. Collins: (01:19:37)
Okay. As an attorney, and again, looking at this with the environment we have right now with police officers constantly under attack from this committee and from others and all over the country, and especially from the Speaker of the House, as an attorney and especially a prosecutor, do you think it’s appropriate to charge a law enforcement officer with a crime as severe as felony murder without giving the investigation more than a mere days and without obtaining an indictment from the grand jury, and while you announce the charges, lay out a case that is full of false hoods?
Wiliam Barr: (01:20:05)
I’ve said that I would have preferred that he had used the grand jury and had waited til the Georgia Bureau had completed its investigation.
Mr. Collins: (01:20:15)
I appreciate your help in that, and with that, I yield back.
Speaker 24: (01:20:17)
Thank you. With that, the chair recognizes Mr. Johnson from Georgia.
Mr. Johnson: (01:20:24)
Thank you. General Barr, your opening statement reads like it was written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone. Do you stand by that statement?
Wiliam Barr: (01:20:36)
Mr. Johnson: (01:20:38)
Now, I’m sure that we can agree on some things. We disagree on a whole lot, but I’m sure we can agree on the fact that President Trump is just a prolific tweeter. Isn’t that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (01:20:50)
He seems to be.
Mr. Johnson: (01:20:52)
And he tweeted many times about the Roger Stone sentencing. Didn’t he?
Wiliam Barr: (01:20:58)
I don’t know how many times he tweeted about it.
Mr. Johnson: (01:21:00)
Well, many times, and you are aware of them, because you said it hurts you from doing your job. And isn’t it true that when prosecutors in the Roger Stone case filed a memo with the court recommending a sentence of seven to nine years in prison, a few hours later, President Trump tweeted that the sentence recommendation was quote, a disgrace. You’re aware of that.
Wiliam Barr: (01:21:25)
Mr. Johnson: (01:21:26)
And General Barr, several hours after that, you filed a pleading with the court stating that the sentence recommendation would be changed and that you would be asking for a lighter sentence for Roger Stone. Isn’t that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (01:21:40)
No. What is corrected, on February 10th, Monday…
Mr. Johnson: (01:21:46)
Well, I mean, no, no, no.
Wiliam Barr: (01:21:46)
… I gave instructions as to what the-
Mr. Johnson: (01:21:48)
You’re claiming my time?
Wiliam Barr: (01:21:49)
Yeah. I’m answering your question.
Speaker 27: (01:21:51)
Well, you got to let him answer.
Mr. Johnson: (01:21:52)
[crosstalk 01:21:52] reclaiming my time, you filed a sentencing recommendation hours after President Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the Stone recommendation and you changed that recommendation. [crosstalk 01:22:07] Trump…
Wiliam Barr: (01:22:08)
No, the night before, that is Monday night…
Mr. Johnson: (01:22:11)
I know your story, but I’m asking…
Wiliam Barr: (01:22:13)
Well, I’m telling my story. That’s what I’m here to do.
Mr. Johnson: (01:22:15)
[crosstalk 01:22:15] want you to tell your story. I want you to answer my question.
Wiliam Barr: (01:22:15)
Well, I do. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to tell my story. And on the night before…
Mr. Johnson: (01:22:21)
You’re here to answer my question.
Wiliam Barr: (01:22:21)
The night before on February 10th, I directed…
Mr. Johnson: (01:22:23)
No, sir. Reclaiming my time, sir, reclaiming my time. And I know you don’t want to answer, but the facts are clear. Sentencing recommendation made in the morning, tweet in the afternoon, you change the sentencing recommendation that [crosstalk 01:22:41]
Wiliam Barr: (01:22:41)
Tweet was not made in the afternoon. The tweet was made at, I think, 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning
Mr. Johnson: (01:22:45)
Well, the tweet was made before and after, tweeted about that relentlessly, and you’ve agreed to that. Now, when you filed your sentencing recommendation, asking for a lower sentence…
Wiliam Barr: (01:22:59)
I didn’t ask for a lower sentence.
Mr. Johnson: (01:23:00)
You said that you were going to recommend a lower sentence. And you-
Wiliam Barr: (01:23:05)
Mr. Johnson: (01:23:06)
Wasn’t the sentence that was recommended by the line prosecutors, according to the sentencing guideline calculations?
Wiliam Barr: (01:23:15)
It was within the guidelines, but it was not within justice department policy, in my view.
Mr. Johnson: (01:23:20)
General Barr, you’re expecting the American people to believe that you did not do what Trump wanted you to do when you changed that sentencing recommendation and lowered it for Roger Stone? You think the American people don’t understand that you were carrying out Trump’s [crosstalk 00:17:40]?
Wiliam Barr: (01:23:38)
I had not discussed my sentencing recommendation with anyone at the White House or anyone outside the department.
Mr. Johnson: (01:23:47)
[crosstalk 01:23:47] president exactly [crosstalk 01:23:47] president wanted you to do. And that’s what you did.
Wiliam Barr: (01:23:50)
Mr. Johnson: (01:23:50)
Attorney General Barr, [crosstalk 01:23:53]
Wiliam Barr: (01:23:52)
Let me ask you, do you think it’s fair? Do you think it is fair for a 67 year old man…
Mr. Johnson: (01:23:57)
Reclaiming my time.
Wiliam Barr: (01:23:59)
… to be sent to prison for seven to nine years?
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:01)
It was in accordance with the sentencing [crosstalk 01:23:58].
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:02)
No, it was not.
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:03)
You just said that it was, and your line prosecutors will testify that it was also. Now, I’m going to move on from that.
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:11)
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:12)
During your time as attorney [crosstalk 01:24:10].
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:13)
It is not the department-
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:14)
[crosstalk 01:24:14] Herbert Walker Bush, you never changed the sentencing recommendation for a friend of Herbert Walker Bush, did you?
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:24)
No, as I recall, I-
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:25)
All right. That’s all I’m asking. No. And over the course of your time as Trump’s [crosstalk 00:18:32].
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:30)
Nothing was never elevated to me.
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:32)
Over the course of your tenure with Trump, you’ve changed two sentencing recommendations, not one, but two. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:40)
Which were they?
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:41)
Yeah. Michael Flynn.
Wiliam Barr: (01:24:43)
I didn’t change it.
Mr. Johnson: (01:24:44)
Well, you indicated that you changed it because the original Flynn sentencing recommendation was for Flynn to serve zero to six months. But under your authority, the justice department supplemented that recommendation with a pleading that stated the Department of Justice’s agreement with Flynn’s lawyers that probation would be a reasonable sentence, and that the DOJ would not be seeking prison time for Michael Flynn. Isn’t that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (01:25:22)
I don’t think that’s what it said.
Mr. Johnson: (01:25:24)
Well, that’s what it said, sir. You go back and read it. [crosstalk 01:25:26]
Wiliam Barr: (01:25:26)
I think both pleadings said that-
Mr. Johnson: (01:25:29)
Reclaiming my time. Prior to you [crosstalk 01:25:31].
Speaker 24: (01:25:30)
The gentleman said time has expired.
Speaker 27: (01:25:33)
Madame Chair, you can give a speech or you can ask questions. If you do the latter, you need to let the witness answer the questions, and that’s the chair’s obligation, chair’s responsibility to allow that to happen.
Speaker 24: (01:25:44)
I believe… Mr. Buck is recognized for five minutes.
Mr. Buck: (01:25:48)
Attorney General Barr, thank you for appearing before the committee today. General Barr, there is a disturbing pattern we’ve seen throughout history with totalitarian systems of government. The leaders first seek to disarm the population, then they encourage goon squads to suppress opposing voices. And finally, once they have disarmed and silenced the opposition, these authoritarian leaders institute policies that root out and crush freedom in every form. Unfortunately, the American left has been infected with the same totalitarian desire to remove firearms and silence opposing views as part of a campaign to achieve its political ends. We’ve seen this scenario play out in every major Democrat run city in America. Progressive leaders push to disarm law abiding Americans to further their influence while watching its crime rates soar. We even saw failed presidential and senate candidate Beto O’Rourke proudly tell Americans, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15 and your AK-47.
Mr. Buck: (01:26:48)
Now the American left is actively cheering as its fascist militia, Antifa, rages in the streets. Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization that hijacks peaceful rallies, organizes armed riots, attacks peaceful protesters, burns buildings, loots stores, and spreads hate. Reports of Antifa linked attacks began circulating in 2017. These thugs, often armed with sticks and pepper spray and other instruments showed up to silence college Republican groups at Berkeley. The left was silent. Then in June, 2019, Antifa jumped into the national conversation after journalist Andy Ngo was brutally attacked in Portland. No arrests were made. The left again was silent. Almost exactly one year ago today, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed stating Portland has to do something to deter political violence, or the city will get more of it. Of course the city’s feckless leadership has only further encouraged Antifa’s violent antics. As a result, we’ve seen 61 straight nights of violence in Portland.
Mr. Buck: (01:27:53)
Antifa’s fascist, totalitarian activities are now oozing into other Democrat run cities. Last Sunday, Antifa launched a violent assault on a peaceful pro-police demonstration in Denver, Colorado. Conservative leaders in Colorado, including Randy Corporon, a Denver area lawyer and radio talk show host, organized a family friendly event in honor of law enforcement appreciation day. The atmosphere was peaceful, and the counter protesters were given plenty of space to advocate their message. But as the afternoon wore on, a swarm of violent Antifa thugs infiltrated the peaceful Black Lives Matter counter protesters and began assaulting pro-police Americans. These are 20 and 30 year old thugs assaulting 50, 60, 70, and even 80 year old Americans who only wanted to show their support for law enforcement. What’s worse, Denver’s cowardly, liberal leadership ordered police to retreat once they saw members of Antifa entering the fray.
Mr. Buck: (01:28:54)
A Denver police detective Nick Rogers apologized for this terrible decision. Detective Rogers summed it up best in a recent radio interview, quote, “I’m sorry on behalf of the rank and file. That’s not us. That’s not who we are. It just kills me that we let good people down.” He continued, “I found out that a retreat order was given by the incident commander, and we had one lieutenant step up and say, we aren’t leaving. This Lieutenant said, these people are going to get killed if we don’t stay. So he kept his people there. That’s the reason this thing didn’t get worse.” End of quote. These are sad times in America. Free speech and the right to keep and bear arms are both being threatened by violent anarchists, and the best our chairman can do is call Antifa a myth.
Mr. Buck: (01:29:42)
General Barr, this has to stop. We can’t let Antifa continue terrorizing our country. Can you please tell us about the appropriate use of civil and criminal RICO statutes to address violent criminal groups like Antifa?
Wiliam Barr: (01:29:59)
In the wake of the beginning of these riots, I asked our joint terrorism task force as the FBI’s joint terrorism task forces around the country to be our principle means of developing evidence and prosecuting violent, extremist terrorists who were involved in these activities. And one of the tools obviously we would use is RICO, which can be used against an organization, but that doesn’t mean that we currently have a RICO case pending.
Mr. Buck: (01:30:36)
Okay. I thank the gentleman, and do you have anything you want to say in response to the speeches that have been given by the other side, and then you’ve been cut off?
Wiliam Barr: (01:30:47)
Yeah. On Lafayette-
Speaker 24: (01:30:50)
The gentleman’s time has expired.
Wiliam Barr: (01:30:53)
Can I ask for a brief recess?
Speaker 27: (01:30:59)
Madam Chair, the witness would like a [crosstalk 01:31:02]
Speaker 24: (01:31:05)
Mr. Barr? Mr. Barr? 10 minutes?
Wiliam Barr: (01:31:09)
[crosstalk 01:31:09] for a brief… Five.
Speaker 28: (01:31:14)
10 minutes… Recess for five.
Speaker 24: (01:31:15)
Okay. The committee will stand in recess for five minutes.
Speaker 29: (01:31:15)
[inaudible 01:31:15] allows the witness to respond to question [inaudible 01:31:33].
Speaker 30: (01:31:31)
Speaker 24: (01:31:34)
The committee’s in recess…
Speaker 24: (01:31:35)
Speaker 31: (01:36:14)
… had it been elevated during the two months between the time the conviction came in under the former US attorney, and the time that Timothy Shea started?
Wiliam Barr: (01:36:26)
I think Shea may have had conversations with people [crosstalk 01:36:25].
Speaker 31: (01:36:30)
And did you ever have conversations with a former US attorney about this case? About the sentencing [inaudible 01:36:35]?
Wiliam Barr: (01:36:37)
I don’t recall any discussion about Stone with…
Speaker 31: (01:36:39)
So Timothy Shea, you said in the interview that he was new, he had just started. He was new, but he worked for you for a long time, didn’t he?
Wiliam Barr: (01:36:47)
Speaker 31: (01:36:47)
And what was his job for you?
Wiliam Barr: (01:36:48)
Well, when I was attorney general 30 years ago. He worked [crosstalk 01:36:48].
Speaker 31: (01:36:51)
No, no, no. Now. Just now.
Wiliam Barr: (01:36:53)
He was on my staff.
Speaker 31: (01:36:55)
He advised you on criminal justice policy and law enforcement, right?
Wiliam Barr: (01:36:59)
Speaker 31: (01:37:00)
And you named him acting US Attorney. Have you discussed the Stone case with him before you named him acting US Attorney?
Wiliam Barr: (01:37:06)
Speaker 31: (01:37:07)
Did you discuss sentencing with him? Not before. The first time was when he came in. It wasn’t Monday, actually, just to refresh your recollection. In a prior interview, you said he came in the week before. He came in to see some senior staff. That’s what you-
Wiliam Barr: (01:37:21)
No, that’s what I said. He may have had discussions with people in the deputy’s office. I was not involved in those discussions. Basically, as far as I can recall, I had no substantive involvement in Stone until that Monday when he came in, in the morning.
Speaker 31: (01:37:36)
I’m sorry, Mr. Attorney General, the week before when he came in to see the senior staff that he had worked with the week before, when he was working [crosstalk 01:37:40].
Wiliam Barr: (01:37:43)
No, I said I think he had raised it with people in the deputy’s office. That’s senior staff, too.
Speaker 31: (01:37:48)
Right. I understand.
Wiliam Barr: (01:37:49)
But I was not involved in that.
Speaker 31: (01:37:51)
He started on July 31st. The first week he was there, he came to raise this issue.
Wiliam Barr: (01:37:56)
I think he started February 1st?
Speaker 31: (01:37:58)
Right. The first week he was there, he came into your office to raise the issue of sentencing. In the interview you did with ABC, you said-
Wiliam Barr: (01:38:05)
No, I don’t think he came [crosstalk 01:38:07]
Speaker 31: (01:38:06)
That’s what you told ABC news. You said that he’s talked to senior staff, not you perhaps, but he talked to senior staff. That [crosstalk 01:38:15].
Wiliam Barr: (01:38:13)
I don’t know what… I think I speak English. I said that before he came in to see me, I believe he had some conversations [crosstalk 01:38:17].
Speaker 31: (01:38:21)
Conversations with senior staff. Right. That’s right, before he came to see you. We’re saying the same thing.
Wiliam Barr: (01:38:26)
But the first it was raised with me…
Speaker 31: (01:38:28)
Was on Monday.
Wiliam Barr: (01:38:28)
Was on Monday.
Speaker 31: (01:38:29)
Did you talk to the senior staff after they spoke with him?
Wiliam Barr: (01:38:32)
I think at a nine o’clock meeting, they said that he was trying to work something out on sentencing, and he was actually optimistic that something could be worked out. So I didn’t think of it as an issue until that Monday, when he told me that the line prosecutors…
Speaker 31: (01:38:49)
So then they filed, he filed the sentencing memo, and the sentencing memo called for seven to nine years. It’s the policy of the US Attorney’s Office to suggest a specific guideline range, which they did, and then you overruled the line prosecutors. You asked for a lower…
Speaker 31: (01:39:03)
… which they did, and then you overruled the line prosecutors, you asked for a lower sentence, and you gave some reasons. You talked about health. Health is to be considered only for an extraordinary physical impairment. Did that apply to Roger Stone, Mr. Attorney General? That’s what the guidelines said.
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:15)
Well, actually I can’t reveal all the information-
Speaker 31: (01:39:19)
I’m not asking what his health was, but did that apply?
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:21)
No. I’m sorry-
Speaker 31: (01:39:22)
Okay, and did-
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:23)
Did what apply?
Speaker 31: (01:39:25)
His health. Was that the reason?
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:27)
Health is a reason to-
Speaker 31: (01:39:28)
I know. Is that the reason for Roger Stone, where you’re asking for a lower sentence? Let me go on, it says-
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:35)
I stated why-
Speaker 31: (01:39:35)
Let me go on.
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:37)
No, I stated why I-
Speaker 31: (01:39:37)
Hold on one second. Age can be consideration, it says, only if it creates conditions that are of an unusual degree and distinguish the case from typical cases. He was 67.
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:45)
The judge agreed with me, Congressman.
Speaker 31: (01:39:48)
No, that’s not what I’m-
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:48)
The judge agreed with me.
Speaker 31: (01:39:48)
I’m not asking you that.
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:50)
The judge agreed with me.
Speaker 31: (01:39:51)
I’m not asking whether-
Wiliam Barr: (01:39:51)
I know you’re not asking that, I’m saying.
Speaker 31: (01:39:52)
I’m not asking you that. The issue here is whether Roger Stone was treated differently because he was friends with the President. When you asked to reduce the sentence, you said enhancements were technically applicable. Mr. Attorney general, can you think of any other cases where the defendant threatened to kill a witness, threatened a judge, lied to a judge, where the Department of Justice claimed that those were mere technicalities, can you think of even one?
Wiliam Barr: (01:40:22)
The judge agreed with our-
Speaker 31: (01:40:23)
Can you think of even one… I’m not asking about the judge, I’m asking about what you did to reduce the sentence of Roger Stone. Can you think [crosstalk 01:40:32] Mr. Attorney General, he threatened the life of a witness-
Wiliam Barr: (01:40:36)
And the witness didn’t feel threatened.
Speaker 31: (01:40:37)
You view that as a technicality, Mr. Attorney General. Is there another time when that had that happened?
Wiliam Barr: (01:40:42)
Can I answer the question? Can I have just a few seconds the question?
Speaker 31: (01:40:44)
Sure. I’m asking you if there’s another time [crosstalk 01:40:47]… to answer my question and it’s unfortunate. And the appearance is that, as you said earlier, this is exactly what you want. The essence of rule of law is that we have one rule for everybody, and we don’t in this case because he’s a friend of the president’s. I yield back.
Speaker 32: (01:41:03)
The Chairman yields back. Ms. Roby.
Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for being here with us today. I’m a member of both this committee, as well as the Appropriations Committee, and I’ve been able to see firsthand, both the funding and the operation of the Department. Additionally, before I was elected to Congress, I served on the city council in my hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, and I’ve witnessed the importance and the value of various Justice Department grant programs in the resources to state and local governments. For example, the Alabama Fusion Center, which is designed to combine information between federal, state, and local government, private sector entities, and the intelligence community has been a recipient of these federal grants. The Alabama Fusion Center is also responsible for the Alabama Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and has done a great job and work in combating child exploitation. Do you believe that Congress is adequately funding programs that provide state and local agencies with the tools that they need to be effective in preventing and pursuing crimes, such as child exploitation and human trafficking, particularly over the internet?
Wiliam Barr: (01:42:36)
I think we could always use more resources for that, Councilman. But if I could just have a moment of your time to respond to these questions here that were being asked about the Roger Stone sentencing.
Wiliam Barr: (01:42:48)
The US Attorney came to me and said that the four aligned prosecutors were threatening to resign unless they could recommend seven to nine years, but there was no comparable case to support that. It would have been very disparate sentence. All the cases were clustered around three years sentence for that. And the way they had gotten to the seven to nine was by applying an enhancement. There are debates all the time within the Department of Justice about the proper calculations under the guidelines and whether a particular enhancement applies or doesn’t apply, and those are usually worked out and resolved, but here they were saying that they were taking an enhancement that has traditionally been applied to mafioso and things like that, threatening a witness. They were applying it to him because he had a phone call at night where he told the witness that, “If you want to get it on, let’s get it on and I’ll take your dog.” We felt that technically could apply, but in this case, it really didn’t reflect the underlying conduct. And the overarching requirement at the Department of Justice is that we do not presume and automatically apply the guidelines, we make individual assessments of the defendant and what is really just under the case and nothing that is excessive.
Wiliam Barr: (01:44:09)
These individuals were trying to force the US Attorney, who was new in the office, to adopt seven to nine, and I made the decision, “No, we are going to leave it up to the judge.” And later, when that was not done that evening, I told people we had to go back and correct that the next morning. So that’s the sequence of events. But at the end of the day, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The judge said she would not have gone along, she didn’t think, with the first recommendation because the enhancement artificially inflated the exposure of the defendant and she came at exactly where I had come out. So at the end of the day, the question is fairness to the individual. And even though I was going to get a lot of criticism for doing that, I think at the end of the day, my obligation is to be fair to the individual. Thank you for letting me-
Yeah. I’m happy to have yielded you time to respond. That being said, Mr. Attorney General, as I am a departing member of Congress and have just a few short moments left, I just want to express to you, in the Department, how important this issue that I originally asked you about is to me, both as a member of Congress, representing my constituents in Alabama, but also as a mother of two beautiful children. I am increasingly alarmed about the way that children are just one click away from being on a website, a forum, or a chat room, or a social media site, where bad actors may be lurking. And whereas I only have a few short seconds left I would just ask you in the time that I have left in Congress, that we could continue to work together to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. I appreciate all the work that you’re doing on this.
Wiliam Barr: (01:46:12)
Absolutely, Congresswoman. As you know, one of the most difficult issues coming up is encryption because, as this material gets encrypted and the chat rooms and the areas where they groom these young children, once it becomes encrypted, it’ll be very hard for us to police it.
Right. Thank you so much. I yield back. Thank you.
Speaker 32: (01:46:32)
The General lady yields back. Ms. Bass.
Attorney General Barr, when it comes to police engagement, last August, when speaking to the National Fraternal Order of Police, you shared your views on police engagement with the public. You stated, and I quote, “Underscore the need to comply first and if warranted, complaint later. This will make everyone safe, the police suspects and the community at large. And those who resist must be prosecuted. I repeat, zero tolerance for resisting police. This will save lives.” Do you stand by that statement?
Wiliam Barr: (01:47:02)
Yes, I think it’s very important that-
A zero tolerance attitude is costing lives, not saving them, especially in communities of-
Wiliam Barr: (01:47:09)
Well, I’m not saying that-
I reclaim my time. A movement and protest have arisen in response to police brutality. Here are a few examples of who bears the cost of zero tolerance. Elijah McClain was walking home from a convenience store when he was approached by police. He had not committed a crime, police held him in a choke hold for 15 minutes. Then injected him with ketamine, not under a doctor’s supervision but at the direction of non-medically trained and unlicensed police officers. Are you familiar with that case?
Wiliam Barr: (01:47:39)
Do you know how frequently ketamine is used by law enforcement to subdue civilians, especially people of color?
Wiliam Barr: (01:47:47)
Did you know if police departments have been documented as directing paramedics and EMTs to eject ketamine during arrest?
Wiliam Barr: (01:47:56)
Well then I guess you haven’t evaluated the use of force tactics since becoming AG and especially this particular tactic of subduing suspects with ketamine.
Wiliam Barr: (01:48:11)
Not with respect to ketamine, no.
Will you commit to directing the Department to evaluate the protocols around the use of ketamine, choke holds, and other methods used by federal law enforcement officials when making arrests or detaining subjects?
Wiliam Barr: (01:48:30)
Well, absolutely. Under the president’s executive order, we are reviewing-
Thank you, and especially-
Wiliam Barr: (01:48:31)
… use of force and working with police departments.
Good. Especially the ketamine. That’s pretty outrageous. George Floyd was killed by a police officer via chokehold. For eight minutes and 46 seconds a police officer knelt on his neck, as he begged for his life. He was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill. That’s how zero tolerance can amount to a death sentence for black men when used in communities of color with George Floyd, screaming, as we all know, he couldn’t breathe. Now consider, James Holmes, who murdered 12 people and injured 70 others in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the same town as Elijah McClain, where he was arrested. James wore body armor, had a knife, semiautomatic weapons, and an AR-15, yet he was calmly arrested by the same police department as Elijah McClain without a choke hold or an injection of ketamine.
Dylann Roof used a gun to murder nine people and injured another at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. When he was arrested, no choke holds, no injections. He was treated so well that officers brought Dylann Roof Burger King after arresting him. Are you familiar with that case?
Wiliam Barr: (01:49:48)
I raised those two examples to follow up on what my colleague from Texas highlighted earlier, that the Department is not doing enough to address issues of racism, bias, and brutality in law enforcement. When someone who commits mass murder is calmly arrested and served Burger King, while a young man walking down the street is placed in a chokehold and injected with ketamine then dies. You said that under the executive order, the administration is looking at chokehold. What have you determined so far?
Wiliam Barr: (01:50:22)
Well, we’re setting up a system of certification of police departments. Part of what our charter is, is to come up with criteria that will be used for certification, including limitations on use of force specifically including chokeholds.
So in the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, part of it called for a national registry of law enforcement officers as a resource for police chiefs to determine who are the best candidates for jobs. As you may or may not be aware, Tamir Rice might be alive today if the police chief who hired him had known that that police officer had been fired from another department. What is your view of a national registry of law enforcement officers?
Wiliam Barr: (01:51:10)
The second aspect of the president’s executive order is to set up a database like that, so that all determinations of excessive force around the country go into that database. And if police departments aren’t reporting that information, they wouldn’t be certified. So we do believe in one national point where you can go in and get determinations of excessive force on law enforcement candidates for jobs.
Good. Thank you. And I do want to comment on part of your opening statement when you were saying that after the Jim Crow period, that our justice system was equal, and I don’t believe that that case-
Wiliam Barr: (01:51:48)
I said the law. I said the laws were made equal.
The laws are made equal. They are certainly not applied equally. We do have systemic problems in our law enforcement system, our criminal justice system on every level. The fact of the matter is 2.3 million people in the United States are incarcerated. We incarcerate 24% of the world’s prisoners, 34% are black, while African Americans are just 13% of the U S population, so justice is still not equal nor are our laws. I think when we look at how many people are incarcerated or how many people are killed, it is not the numbers. It is the percentage to the percentage of that group in the US population. I yield back my time.
Speaker 32: (01:52:33)
General lady yields back. Mr. Gates.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Attorney general, you’ve described the prosecution of Roger Stone as righteous. That’s clearly something that the president and I disagree with you on. I would suggest that perhaps the prosecution of Andrew McCabe, who lied four times, thrice under the penalty of perjury, would be more righteous. I would suggest to you that uncovering the criminal conspiracy that existed where people in our own government were trying to convince intelligence agents and operatives around the world to destabilize our elections and to discredit our president would perhaps be more righteous. But as we sit here today, I don’t think that Mr. Stone, or Mr. McCabe, or any of those other folks are killing anyone or burning down our buildings. And so I’d like to focus our effort on the most acute need I believe our country has. You’ve recently said that you believe Antifa to be a terrorist organization. What’s your basis for that belief?
Wiliam Barr: (01:53:35)
I’m not sure I said terrorist organization. I said, we’re investigating it as domestic terrorism, but Antifa… There are a number of violent, extreme groups in the United States and they’re across the spectrum, Antifa is heavily represented in the recent riots. That’s not to say they’re the only group involved. They have been identified as involved in a number of the violin mob actions that have taken place around the country.
Mr. Attorney General, I saw the chairman of the Judiciary Committee recently say that Antifa is a myth, that their involvement in this violence isn’t something that is real. What’s your reaction to the chairman?
Wiliam Barr: (01:54:21)
I don’t think it’s a myth. Antifa can be best thought of, I think, as a umbrella term for what is essentially a movement comprised of loosely organized groups around the country. In some areas of the country there are a number of groups and there are sort of centers of activity. The groups, as I say, are loosely organized, but they are definitely organized, but since they have an anarchic temperament they don’t get along very well with each other, so I’m not suggesting it’s a national organization that moves nationally. They tend to get organized for an event and there’s a lot of organization right before an event occurs, but we see a lot of the organization during the mob violence.
That is a really important distinction when determining how to apply, particularly our RICO laws, to an organization like this. If Antifa is merely something that inspires people to go out and commit violence, that strikes me as legally distinct from Antifa being an organizing influence to assist people in committing crimes. One question I get from my constituents as they watch the death and violence and disruption and chaos in Seattle, and in Portland and in other places is whether or not there’s a risk that that could metastasize to other areas of the country. Have you given consideration to the risk that might befall other American communities if the Department of Justice were not to take action to protect and preserve federal property in places like Portland?
Wiliam Barr: (01:56:06)
Yes, absolutely. We are concerned about this problem metastasizing around the country, and so we feel that we have to, in a place like Portland, even where we don’t have the support of the local government, we have to take a stand and defend this federal property. We can’t get to a level where we’re going to accept these kinds of violent attacks on federal courts.
And if you did what my Democrat colleagues were asking, if you merely abandoned that federal property, allowed it to be overrun, allowed the people inside to be harmed, is it your view then that Antifa and other violent people engaged in these acts would simply stop, would simply that as their sole victory? Or is it your expert opinion, having dealt with a number of law enforcement and criminal cases in your legal career that they wouldn’t stop, that they would go to the next town, to the next community and potentially inspire more violence?
Wiliam Barr: (01:57:02)
There’s no doubt in my mind that it would spread.
What comfort can you give Americans in my district and around the country that you will stop this, that you will stop the burning and destruction of federal property, and that you will give confidence to regular Americans that they can go out in the streets without the risk of this terrorism?
Wiliam Barr: (01:57:23)
Well, as you can see, in Portland, we have a relatively small number of federal officers who have been withstanding this for almost two months. It’s a great strain, but we cannot just stand aside and allow the federal court to be destroyed.
Thank you for your service and for your great work. I yield back.
Speaker 32: (01:57:41)
Gentleman yields back. Mr. Richmond.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Attorney General Barr, you started your testimony with eloquent words about the life and legacy of John Lewis fighting systematic racism, voter intimidation, civil rights. The one thing that you have in common with your two predecessors, both Attorney General sessions and Attorney General Whitaker, is that when you all came here and brought your top staff, you brought no black people. That, sir, is systematic racism. That is exactly what John Lewis spent his life fighting. And so I would just suggest that actions speak louder than words, and you should really should keep the name of the honorable John Lewis out of the Department of Justice’s mouth.
Let me also say, you mentioned bogus ‘Russiagate’, in your opinion, as the Attorney General of the United States of America, did Russia interfere or attempt to interfere in the 2016 election?
Wiliam Barr: (01:58:42)
In your position as the Attorney General of the United States, is Russia attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election?
Wiliam Barr: (01:58:54)
I think we have to assume that they are.
Thank you, sir. Now, let’s talk about the integrity of the election, which is also something Congressman Lewis fought for. Jared Kushner implied that the president could move the election day. Can a sitting US president move an election day?
Wiliam Barr: (01:59:15)
Actually, I haven’t looked into that question under the Constitution.
Well, to US code section seven says federal election day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. So if you take that as a correct statute, is there any executive action by a president-
Wiliam Barr: (01:59:31)
I’ve never been asked the question before. I’ve never looked into it.
As Attorney General of the United States, do you believe that this 2020 presidential election will be rigged?
Wiliam Barr: (01:59:41)
I have no reason to think it will be.
President Trump tweeted that the election will be rigged, but he also tweeted that when he was losing to Hillary Clinton and he tweeted that the day after it was Fox showed that he was losing to Trump, but I don’t want to be too political. Do you believe, as the Attorney General of the United States, that mail-in voting will lead to massive voter fraud?
Wiliam Barr: (02:00:10)
I think there’s a high risk that it will.
Do you ever vote by mail-in ballot?
Wiliam Barr: (02:00:16)
Apparently I did once, at least.
But you believe that other people voting by mail could lead to massive fraud?
Wiliam Barr: (02:00:23)
No. What I’ve talked about, made very clear, is that I’m not talking about accommodations to people who have to be out of the state or have some particular inability to go and vote. What I’m talking about is the wholesale conversion of election to mail-in voting.
You do understand that African Americans are disproportionately do not survive COVID-19 coronavirus? You are aware of that?
Wiliam Barr: (02:00:48)
I didn’t hear the question.
You are aware that African Americans, black people, disproportionately die from COVID-19 coronavirus, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:00:58)
Yes, I think that’s right.
And not that it would be the first time that African-Americans would risk their lives to vote in this country to preserve its democracy, but the suggestion is that them having the ability to vote by mail would somehow lead to massive voter fraud, but I won’t stick to that-
Wiliam Barr: (02:01:20)
No, I didn’t say that. I just stated, I think, what is a reality, which is that if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.
But it doesn’t make it likely?
Wiliam Barr: (02:01:31)
That’s all I said.
Now, I also saw on TV that the president said, he’s not sure that he’ll accept the election results. Can a president just protest because he lost an election?
Wiliam Barr: (02:01:43)
Protest in what sense?
Well, can he contest an election just because he simply loses?
Wiliam Barr: (02:01:49)
Bush v. Gore was-
Well, I think that that was over a slim voter margin. I’m talking about if it is very clear that the president has lost an election, does he have a remedy to contest the election?
Wiliam Barr: (02:02:02)
Not that I’m aware of.
Let me go back to what representative Bass mentioned. You mentioned a number that there were eight African Americans killed by the police and 11 white people killed by the police-
Wiliam Barr: (02:02:17)
So far this year.
If you use those numbers, that’s 85% of that population is white, 15% of that population is black. But if you actually look at the deaths, according to the numbers you just gave, 42% of the deaths are African American and 58% are white. That is a glaring disparity in terms of population. I just give you those numbers because I-
Wiliam Barr: (02:02:40)
Well, not necessarily. You have to adjust it by the race of the criminal or perpetrator.
No, I just did that for you. I’m using your numbers and, according to your numbers, African Americans are four or five times more likely than their percentage of the population to be killed by police than their white counterparts. I just wanted to give you that based on your numbers.
Wiliam Barr: (02:03:04)
Actually, the studies I’ve seen have suggested two things. One that in fact, police are less likely to shoot at a black suspect, a little bit more likely to shoot at white. However, that police are more inclined to use non-lethal force in a contact with an African American suspect. In terms of the statistics, that’s what it looks like to me.
Any data that you have that shows that African Americans are less likely to die at the hands of police, or be shot or shot at, to me is a incorrect analysis, but I am interested in seeing it. So if you have it, please see it. I won’t call it any names. But if that data exists, I would be more than happy to see it. And since you’re sending me that data, can you send me the data of African Americans within the Department of Justice, how many you have in leadership ranks all the way down? Thank you and I yield back.
Speaker 32: (02:04:09)
The gentleman yields back. I would remind Mr. Jordan, Mr. Biggs, and Mr. Johnson to stop violating the rules of the committee, to stop violating the safety of the members of the committee, to stop holding themselves out as not caring by refusing to wear their masks.
Speaker 33: (02:04:29)
Is it permissible to sip coffee?
Speaker 32: (02:04:31)
It’s not permissible.
Speaker 34: (02:04:32)
Not, not to drink-
Speaker 33: (02:04:33)
We can’t drink coffee in the [crosstalk 00:25:34].
Mr. Jordan: (02:04:34)
I’m getting ready to ask questions now, and I will.
Speaker 34: (02:04:38)
Speaker 32: (02:04:40)
Mr. Gates is recognized.
Mr. Jordan: (02:04:41)
No, no, no, he just went.
Speaker 34: (02:04:42)
He went, and that’s why I took off my mask, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Jordan: (02:04:46)
[crosstalk 02:04:46] I’m going to go. I’m going to go.
Speaker 34: (02:04:46)
Speaker 32: (02:04:47)
Mr. Jordan is recognized.
Mr. Jordan: (02:04:49)
Mr. Attorney General, let’s clear up a few things, Judge Berman Jackson agreed with your Stone sentencing recommendation. Is that right?
Speaker 32: (02:04:57)
Mr. Jordan: (02:04:57)
Yeah, and she said, “I am concerned seven to nine years would be greater than necessary. I agree with the defense and with the government’s second memorandum.” So it couldn’t be more clear they agreed with you.
Speaker 34: (02:05:06)
Mr. Jordan: (02:05:06)
Lafayette square, would St. John’s church be standing today if you had not taken action?
Wiliam Barr: (02:05:12)
Well, I think that was on Sunday night and I think law enforcement did use tear gas, my understanding is that night to clear the way so that the fire trucks could get in to save St. John’s church.
Mr. Jordan: (02:05:26)
The church is-
Wiliam Barr: (02:05:27)
That was on Sunday night though.
Mr. Jordan: (02:05:28)
I understand. I understand the timeframe, but would it be standing today if there had not been action taken by federal law enforcement and local law enforcement?
Wiliam Barr: (02:05:37)
Mr. Jordan: (02:05:38)
38 people unmasked Michael Flynn’s name 49 times in a two month timeframe, seven people at the Treasury Department unmasked Michael Flynn’s name. Is this an issue that Mr. Durham is looking into?
Wiliam Barr: (02:05:52)
I’ve asked another US attorney to look into the issue of unmasking because of the high number of unmaskings and some that do not readily appear to have been in the line of normal business.
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:07)
Wait, wait, I want to be clear, so there is another investigation on that issue specifically going on at the Justice Department right now?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:13)
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:14)
Wow. That’s great. So Mr. Durham is looking at how the whole Trump Russia thing started? You have another US attorney, can you give us that US attorney’s name? Is that something you’re comfortable doing?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:24)
John Bash of Texas.
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:25)
John Bash of Texas is looking specifically at the fact-
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:29)
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:30)
… 38 people, 49 times unmasked Michael Flynn’s name, and probably other unmaskings that took place in the final days of the Obama-Biden administration. Is that accurate?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:39)
Actually a much longer period of time.
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:41)
Even before that?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:42)
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:43)
Thank you, mister. I appreciate that. That’s information that the committee did not know. Are peaceful protests violent, Mr. Attorney general?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:51)
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:52)
Do peaceful protests destroy businesses?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:54)
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:55)
Do peaceful protests injure officers?
Wiliam Barr: (02:06:57)
Mr. Jordan: (02:06:58)
Do peaceful protests attack civilians?
Wiliam Barr: (02:07:00)
Mr. Jordan: (02:07:01)
Do peaceful protests burn down buildings?
Wiliam Barr: (02:07:04)
Mr. Jordan: (02:07:06)
The video we played, it’s hard to watch. It’s really hard to watch to see that happening in our great country, but the start of it was almost laughable where you have the reporter saying, as the building is burning behind him, it’s not generally speaking an unruly protest, it’s mostly just a protest. I mean, it’s almost laughable when you have that reporter saying, I guess he’s saying it’s not a fire, it’s just a burning building. I guess he’s saying it’s a peaceful burning building.
Mr. Jordan: (02:07:34)
A few weeks ago… Well, let me ask you this, I want to go right to this, is defunding the police a rational policy?
Wiliam Barr: (02:07:45)
No. I think, if anything, I’m more concerned that the police be adequately funded today and get more resources. A lot of the things we need to do to address some of the concerns people have about what they saw in Minneapolis are going to take some resources, some of the training that we have to do. One of the difficulties in our country, it’s not a difficulty, it’s a fact, we have 18,000 law enforcement agencies. Most of them are very, very small. And so we have to find a way of training, making sure the training is pushed out-
Mr. Jordan: (02:08:20)
Is it dangerous to defund the police?
Wiliam Barr: (02:08:22)
It’s extremely dangerous.
Mr. Jordan: (02:08:24)
Extremely dangerous. And some of the ordinances you’re seeing cities pass are also dangerous. Are you familiar with the letter that Chief of Police of Seattle, Carmen Best, sent to business owners and residents in that city?
Wiliam Barr: (02:08:35)
Yes, I am, saying that she cannot protect, she can’t do her job, her police force can not do the job because-
Mr. Jordan: (02:08:41)
That’s exactly what she said, gives officers the policy they’re trying to pass. Thank goodness a court stopped it. The policy they are trying to pass gives officers no ability, and she emphasized no, not us, not you, Mr. Attorney, not me, gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of large, violent crowds.
Mr. Jordan: (02:08:57)
She also said in that letter… Again, she’s taken the leadership and responsibility to tell the business owners that the citizens that she’s supposed to serve. She also tells them in that letter, “I’ve done my due diligence on informing the council numerous times.” So she’s saying, I’ve tried to tell them, these people won’t listen to me.” And then finally she says this, and this is the scary part, this is why it’s so dangerous, she says this in her letter, “Seattle police will have an adjusted deployment.” That’s a nice way of saying you’re on your own. We can’t help you.
Mr. Jordan: (02:09:28)
That is how scary this defund the police… And here’s the kicker. Here’s the kicker. These same cities sent you a letter last week. The same week Chief of Police Best does this to the residents and citizens of her city, her mayor sends you a letter blaming you, blaming the federal government for the violence that is happening in these cities. That is how ridiculous the left’s position has become. I appreciate the work you’re doing Mr. Attorney general. I’m over time. I yield back.
Wiliam Barr: (02:09:57)
Speaker 32: (02:09:58)
Gentlemen yields. Mr. Jeffries.
Mr. Barr, the job of the Attorney General is to defend the best interests of the people and serve as the people’s lawyer. But during your time as Attorney General, you have consistently undermined democracy, undermined the Constitution, and undermined the health, safety, and wellbeing of the American people, all to personally benefit Donald Trump.
Now, you just testified that there’s no mechanism for a president to contest an election that has clearly been won by the opponent. Mr. Attorney General, what will you do if Donald Trump loses the election on November 3rd, but refuses to leave office on January 20th?
Wiliam Barr: (02:10:47)
If the results are clear, I would leave office.
Do you believe that there is any basis or legitimacy to Donald Trump’s recent claim that he can’t provide an answer as to whether he would leave office?
Wiliam Barr: (02:11:05)
I really am not familiar with these comments or the context in which they occurred. Sorry, I’m not going to give commentary on them.
Okay. Thank you. He just stated that publicly about a week ago to Fox News. Mr. Barr, during a radio interview this spring with Hugh Hewitt, you praised President Trump’s coronavirus response as superb, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:11:23)
Wiliam Barr: (02:11:25)
Over 150,000 Americans have died, more than four million Americans have been infected, more than five million Americans have lost their healthcare, over 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed, more than 50 million Americans are out of work. This is not the outcome of superb leadership. What we’ve gotten from Donald Trump is exactly the opposite. Let’s explore.
Wiliam Barr: (02:11:55)
Well, I disagree with that.
That was not a question. That was a statement. Let’s explore. In February, President Trump falsely claimed that the number of coronavirus cases-
… President Trump falsely claimed that the number of coronavirus cases would go from 15 to zero in a few days. Was that superb? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:12:09)
I’d have to see the context in which it was said.
Here’s the context. Number of cases didn’t go down to zero. It’s over four million.
Let’s go to March. In that month, President Trump said, “I take no responsibility at all for the failure and testing.” Was that superb? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:12:29)
It was accurate. The problem with the testing system was a function of President Obama’s mishandling of the CDC and his efforts to centralize everything in the CDC when they didn’t have the capacity.
Thank you, Mr. Barr. That is inaccurate. That’s a myth. That’s a lie.
Wiliam Barr: (02:12:45)
It wasn’t until this administration-
Reclaiming my time. In April, President Trump irresponsibly suggested that the American people inject themselves with bleach. Was that superb? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:13:01)
That’s not what I heard.
That’s exactly what he said, that’s what the American people heard, and you know it, and you can’t defend it. Let’s move on to May.
In that month, on National Nurses’ Day, President Trump, falsely called PPE shortages fake news while nurses and other healthcare professionals resorted to wearing trash bags and ski goggles to protect themselves. Fake news. Was that superb? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:13:35)
I think the administration did a good job of mustering PPE and the national supply of PPE was rundown during the Obama administration and never replaced.
Thank you, Mr. Barr. The answer is no, it was not superb.
By June, President Trump irresponsibly continued to refuse to wear a mask despite the public health guidance from his own experts. Was that superb? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:14:06)
Which guidance? The earlier guidance that the masks wouldn’t work?
You know exactly the guidance that we’re talking about, the CDC and Dr. Fauci in April recommended that the American people wear a mask, but Donald Trump has become the poster boy for the anti-mask movement.
Wiliam Barr: (02:14:22)
Donald Trump is probably tested more than any other human being on the face of the Earth.
Mr. Barr, the answer is the refusal to wear a mask is not superb.
Last question, in July, President Trump falsely claimed that 99% of COVID-19 cases are quote, “Totally harmless.” Was that superb? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:14:45)
I think essentially what he was saying is that the fatality rate relatively is very low. Very low.
The answer is 150,000 Americans are dead. It has been a failure of epic proportions. In fact, Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been the worst failure of any president in American history, and the American people have paid the price.
I yield back.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:15:14)
The gentleman yields back. Who seeks recognition?
Speaker 35: (02:15:19)
Well, I guess I do. I think it’s my turn to speak and ask questions.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:15:23)
Let me check.
Speaker 35: (02:15:23)
Is that correct, Mr. Chairman?
Speaker 36: (02:15:25)
Speaker 35: (02:15:26)
Then I seek recognition, sir.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:15:28)
The gentleman’s recognized.
Speaker 35: (02:15:28)
Oh, bless your heart. Thank you. Attorney General Barr, Chairman Nadler opened up his statement by saying you can no longer hide behind the legal fiction, that caused me some consternation. I had no idea what he’s talking about. Do you have any idea what he’s talking about?
Wiliam Barr: (02:15:48)
I don’t recall that phrase. In what context?
Speaker 35: (02:15:52)
Well, who knows what context? I mean, he was just kind of rattling on there, but he was attacking you and your performance in virtually everything he could and said you can no longer hide behind a legal fiction. I didn’t see any connection with anything else he had been saying. I wondered if you had seen anything. Apparently you didn’t see anything either.
Speaker 35: (02:16:13)
The next person to ask questions was the gentle lady from California who consistently referred to civilian federal agents as federal troops and intimating, if you will, that Portland was peaceable until federal civilian agents arrived on the scene. Essentially, it’s kind of analogous to blaming a fire department for showing up to put out a fire and then being blamed for starting the fire.
Speaker 35: (02:16:44)
Attorney General Barr, let’s just have it on the record, was there violence and attempts to burn down, vandalize the building and attack civilian employees of the federal government prior to any other federal agents or the reinforcements being sent in of federal agents?
Wiliam Barr: (02:17:01)
Yeah, my recollection is our main effort to reinforce was around the 4th of July period and that it had been going on for quite a while before that.
Speaker 35: (02:17:09)
Let’s talk about Lafayette Square for a second. Leading up to June 1st, you had violent mobs disobeying, the 11:00 PM curfew. They set fire to park cars, demolished coffee shops and banks, burned American flags, and even intentionally set fire to St. John’s Episcopal Church near Lafayette square. Secret Service and park police appropriate use of safe restorative force actually cleared that up. In total, however, 51 US Park Police officers were injured during the weekend leading up to the perimeter expansion. Do you want to expand on the actions regarding with that, Lafayette Park?
Wiliam Barr: (02:17:46)
Right. For the 29, 30th and 31st, there was unprecedented rioting right around the White House. Very violent. During that time, as you say, about 50 park police and a comparable number, is my recollection, of Secret Service. We had I think around 90 officers injured. I’m talking about things like concussions. One was operated on and so forth. It was so bad that, as it’s been reported, the Secret Service recommended the president go down to the shelter. We had a breach of the Treasury Department. The historical building on Lafayette Park was burned down. The lodge. St. John’s was set on fire. Bricks were thrown at the police repeatedly. They took crowbars and pried up the pavers on Lafayette Park and threw those at the police. Balloons of caustic liquid were thrown on the police.
Wiliam Barr: (02:18:47)
It was clear when I arrived at the White House on Monday, there was total consensus that we couldn’t allow that to happen so close to the White House, that kind of rioting. Therefore we had to move the perimeter out one block and push it up toward I Street. There was already a plan in being at that point that the park police and the Secret Service had worked out the night before, which was to put the perimeter further away and then give them time to put a non-scalable fence across the northern part of the park.
Wiliam Barr: (02:19:23)
During Monday, the factors that led to the timing of it were that that movement was going to be made as soon as there were enough units in place to actually perform it. Units were very slow in getting into place throughout the day, much to my frustration because I wanted it moved before there was a big buildup of demonstrators. Also, the fencing had to be delivered. When those things were accomplished, the tactical commander in charge of the park police proceeded with the movement of pushing out the perimeter.
Wiliam Barr: (02:20:02)
This was something conceived of long before, and didn’t turn on the nature of the crowd. Although, I would say the crowd was very unruly and while the tactical considerations were made by the park police, they tried to respond to the situation. To say that this had to do with a photo-op is, and I don’t mean to analogize this to a military operation, but it’s akin to saying that we invaded the Philippines in World War II so Douglas MacArthur could walk through the surf on the beach. One follows the other, but we did not invade the Philippines so that Douglas MacArthur could walk to the beach.
Speaker 35: (02:20:38)
Thank you. Yield.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:20:42)
Gentleman yields back. Mr. Swalwell.
Eric Swalwell: (02:20:44)
Mr. Barr, have you ever intervened other than to help the president’s friend get a reduced prison sentence for any other case where a prosecutor had filed a sentencing recommendation with the court?
Wiliam Barr: (02:20:54)
A sentencing recommendation?
Eric Swalwell: (02:20:55)
Yeah. Have you ever intervened other than that case for the president’s friend?
Wiliam Barr: (02:20:59)
Not that I recall. If you’re talking-
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:00)
Does that seem like something you’d recall? Where you would?
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:02)
Well, I’m saying I can’t really remember my first, if you let me finish the question.
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:06)
That’s a big deal, right?
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:06)
I can’t remember. 30 years ago, I was attorney general.
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:09)
As attorney general now?
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:11)
But no I didn’t, but that’s because issues come up to the attorney general within a dispute. I had never heard of a dispute-
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:17)
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:17)
I’ve never heard of a dispute in the department-
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:19)
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:20)
Where line prosecutors threatened to quit because-
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:24)
Well, it’s a pretty big deal and they-
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:24)
Because of a discussion over sentencing akin to this.
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:26)
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:27)
Americans from both parties are concerned that in Donald Trump’s America, there’s two systems of justice, one for Mr. Trump and his cronies and another for the rest of us. But that can only happen if you enable it. At your confirmation hearing, you were asked, do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipients promise to not incriminate him? You said, “No, that would be a crime.”
Wiliam Barr: (02:21:52)
Not to what?
Eric Swalwell: (02:21:52)
You were asked, could a president issue a pardon in exchange for the recipients promise to not incriminate him. And you responded, “No, that would be a crime.” Is that right?
Wiliam Barr: (02:22:01)
Yes. I said that.
Eric Swalwell: (02:22:02)
You said a crime. You didn’t say it’d be wrong. You didn’t say it be unlawful. You said it would be a crime. When you said that, that a president swapping a pardon to silence a witness would be a crime, you were promising the American people that if you saw that you would do something about it. Is that right?
Wiliam Barr: (02:22:16)
Eric Swalwell: (02:22:18)
Now, Mr. Barr, are you investigating Donald Trump for commuting the prison sentence of his long time friend and political advisor Roger Stone?
Wiliam Barr: (02:22:25)
Eric Swalwell: (02:22:27)
Wiliam Barr: (02:22:29)
Why should I?
Eric Swalwell: (02:22:30)
Well, let’s talk about that. Mr. Stone was convicted by a jury on seven counts of lying in the Russia investigation. He bragged that he lied to save Trump’s butt, but why would he lie? Your prosecutors, Mr. Barr, told a jury that Stone lied because the truth looked bad for Donald Trump. What truth is that? Well, Donald Trump denied in written answers to the Russia investigators that he talked to Roger Stone during the time Roger Stone was in contact with agents of a Russian influence operation. There’s evidence that Trump and Stone indeed did talk during that time.
Eric Swalwell: (02:23:02)
You would agree that it’s a federal crime to lie under oath. Is that right?
Wiliam Barr: (02:23:07)
Eric Swalwell: (02:23:07)
It’s a crime for you, it’s a crime for me, and it’s certainly a crime for the President of the United States. Is that right?
Wiliam Barr: (02:23:12)
Eric Swalwell: (02:23:14)
If Donald Trump lied to the Mueller investigators, which you agree would be a crime, then Roger Stone was in a position to expose Donald Trump’s lies. Are you familiar with the December 3rd, 2018 tweet where Donald Trump said Roger Stone had shown guts by not testifying against him?
Wiliam Barr: (02:23:31)
No, I’m not familiar with that.
Eric Swalwell: (02:23:33)
You don’t read the president’s tweets?
Wiliam Barr: (02:23:34)
Eric Swalwell: (02:23:35)
Well, there’s a lot of evidence in the president’s tweets, Mr. Attorney General. I think you should start reading them because he said Mr. Stone showed guts. But on July 10 of this year, Roger Stone declared to a reporter: “I had 29 or 30 conversations with Trump during the campaign period. Trump knows I was under enormous pressure turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably, but I didn’t. The prosecutors wanted me to play Judas. I refused.” Are you familiar with that Stone statement?
Wiliam Barr: (02:24:03)
Actually, I’m not.
Eric Swalwell: (02:24:05)
How can you sit here and tell us, “Why should I investigate the President of the United States if you’re not even aware of the facts concerning the president using the part in her commutation power to swap the silence of a witness?”
Wiliam Barr: (02:24:19)
Because we require a reliable predicate before we open a criminal investigation.
Eric Swalwell: (02:24:25)
And I just gave to you, sir.
Wiliam Barr: (02:24:26)
I don’t consider it. I consider it a very Rube Goldberg theory that you have.
Eric Swalwell: (02:24:31)
Well, it sounds like you’re hearing this for the first time. What concerns, Mr. Attorney General-
Wiliam Barr: (02:24:33)
By the way, if I applied your standard, there’d be a lot more people under investigation.
Eric Swalwell: (02:24:39)
Mr. Attorney General, the very same day that Roger Stone said that, Donald Trump, no surprise, [crosstalk 02:24:46].
Wiliam Barr: (02:24:44)
The true two standards of justice were really during the tail end of the Obama administration.
Eric Swalwell: (02:24:49)
Mr. Attorney General, let’s turn to the Michael Cohen case. Are you aware, sir, that Michael Cohen after being released from prison was asked to not engaged with the media, including to write a book? Were you aware that that was going to be asked of him?
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:02)
Was I aware?
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:03)
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:03)
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:04)
Do you know if anyone else in your department was aware?
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:08)
Maybe I should tell you what happened?
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:10)
Why don’t you tell us what happened?
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:11)
Okay. He was furloughed from the Bureau of Prisons.
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:15)
No. No. Why don’t you tell us why he was asked to sign an agreement not to-
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:17)
I’ll tell you. Something that people don’t seem to understand is that his home confinement was not being supervised by the Bureau of Prisons.
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:24)
No, the Bureau of Prisons-
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:25)
It was being supervised by the probation office, which is part of the US Court System.
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:30)
Are you aware-
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:31)
And it was the US Court System that had the requirements about not writing.
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:34)
Yes, that US Court System called your actions retaliatory. Do you agree with that?
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:40)
All I know is what has been said in court before the judge and in the record …
Eric Swalwell: (02:25:45)
Wiliam Barr: (02:25:45)
Which is that the individual was then called by the US Court System saying that this guy, Cohen, is uncooperative, he’s not agreeing to the conditions. At that point, the Bureau of Prisons’ person made the decision that he was no longer eligible for home confinement.
Eric Swalwell: (02:26:00)
Conditions that a federal judge said no other inmate had ever been asked of in his experience.
Eric Swalwell: (02:26:05)
Mr. Barr, you told ABC News that the president’s tweets sometimes make your job impossible. But, Sir, your job is only impossible if you enable the president’s corrupt schemes. I yield back.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:26:16)
The gentleman yields back. Mr. [inaudible 00:14:20].
Speaker 37: (02:26:16)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Speaker 37: (02:26:22)
Mr. Attorney General, the Constitution says the president shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment. Do you note any other limitations in the Constitution on the president’s power to pardon?
Wiliam Barr: (02:26:36)
Speaker 37: (02:26:36)
Has the president exceeded that power?
Wiliam Barr: (02:26:38)
Speaker 37: (02:26:40)
My colleague from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, implied that in challenging the sentencing recommendation of Roger Stone, you were doing the bidding of the president. He didn’t want to hear your response, I would.
Wiliam Barr: (02:26:52)
Roger Stone, I never discussed our sentencing recommendation with anyone outside the Department of Justice. That was a very condensed period of time.I made the decision that we shouldn’t take a position as to the precise sentence, but should leave it up to the judge and we should not affirmatively advocate for seven to nine years. I made that on Monday the 10th and that night we filed, the department filed, and it didn’t reflect what I had decided. That night I told people we had to fix it first thing in the morning. We did as soon as I got in. We went forward with a plan to file. At that point, I learned about the president’s tweet because I don’t monitor the president’s tweets. I hesitated because I knew that I would be attacked for doing it. People would argue that I did it because of the tweet, but I felt at the end of the day, I really had to go forward with our filing because it was the right thing to do. I’m glad the judge agreed with it.
Speaker 37: (02:28:00)
We’re learning more and more about the targeting and prosecution and extortion of Michael Flynn by partisan officials at the FBI. No one has been held accountable for this grotesque abuse of power. Knowing that agents with a political agenda can take anything that someone says, edit it, misrepresent it, prosecute it, and then extort confessions by threatening family members, and to do so with impunity. Why would anyone in his right mind ever want to talk to an FBI agent again?
Wiliam Barr: (02:28:33)
I haven’t reached judgements and I’m not suggesting that all those facts you set forth are true. We have not, at this point, challenged the actions. I’ve defended the actions of the prosecutors in this case in court. The order of business right now is knowing what we know now, we don’t think any of the US attorneys in the department would have prosecuted this case, partly because of the behavior of the FBI, but also because the evidence is not there to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Part of what I’m trying to establish is that we will use the same standards for everybody before we indict anybody. This goes for both sides. We won’t prosecute anybody unless there’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed a crime, and not some kind of esoteric made up crime, but a meat and potatoes crime.
Speaker 37: (02:29:34)
For more than three years, the most powerful agencies in our government took information that was fabricated by agents of a political campaign that they knew was fraudulent, used it as justification to launch an investigation alleging treason against a presidential candidate, then leaked the existence of that investigation in a manner that was clearly calculated to effect the outcome of the election and then, failing that, used it in a largely successful attempt to obstruct the duly-elected president. Are you going to be able to right this wrong before it becomes a precedent for future election interference by corrupt officials in our justice and intelligence agencies?
Wiliam Barr: (02:30:13)
I really can’t predict that. I think, as you know, John Durham is looking at all these matters. COVID did delay that action for awhile, but he’s working very diligently. Justice is not something you order up on a schedule like you’re ordering a pizza.
Speaker 37: (02:30:30)
Well, there are many of us who are concerned that if you were succeeded by someone like Keith Ellison, as Attorney General that this will become an institutionalized practice and the investigation of Mr. Durham will simply go away.
Wiliam Barr: (02:30:43)
I understand your concern.
Speaker 37: (02:30:45)
One more thing. A term we keep hearing from the Left is, “Oh, these are mostly peaceful protests, mostly peaceful.” It seems to me that you either are or you’re not. Calling what’s happening in our cities, “Mostly peaceful protests” is a, is a lot like calling Scott Peterson a mostly faithful husband, or Al Capone a mostly law abiding businessman. There is a constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Where does that right stop?
Wiliam Barr: (02:31:13)
When it becomes a violence, criminal activity. And that’s the challenge here. I mean, you have a lot of people who are out protesting and demonstrating, and that’s an important first amendment activity that we believe strongly in and try to protect. The particular violent opportunists that are involved here, get into those crowds and then start engaging in very violent activity and hijack it. A lot of protesters have been telling law enforcement and providing information to us about these people who are not with them, they’re not demonstrators, but they’re coming in. A lot of demonstrators leave when that happens, because they see what’s happening themselves.
Speaker 37: (02:31:55)
Would you call that violence a myth?
Jerrold Nadler: (02:31:58)
The gentleman’s time-
Wiliam Barr: (02:31:58)
Jerrold Nadler: (02:31:58)
The gentleman’s time has expired. Mr. Lieu.
Ted Lieu: (02:32:04)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ted Lieu: (02:32:07)
Thank you, Mr. Barr for being here today. I’d like to ask you some questions about the legal standard for seizing and arresting protestors. Under the Fourth Amendment, it requires probable cause before you can seize and arrest a protester. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:32:28)
Ted Lieu: (02:32:32)
Okay. The probable cause has to be particularized to a particular person. If a protestor was merely standing around in a crowd in the vicinity of someone else, suspected of criminal activity, you cannot arrest that peaceful protestor. In other words, there’s no such thing as probable cause by mere association. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:32:52)
Well, not strictly, but I’ll say that you do need particularized probable cause.
Ted Lieu: (02:33:01)
Okay. If there’s no probable cause then you can’t arrest a protestor, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:33:02)
If someone jumps into a getaway car and there are three or four people in there that might be enough to give you a probable cause, just those circumstances. You don’t need it on each individual person.
Ted Lieu: (02:33:11)
Reclaiming my time, Mr. Attorney General. If there is no probable cause you can’t arrest the protester, correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:33:17)
I said at the beginning, arrest has to be predicated on probable cause.
Ted Lieu: (02:33:23)
All right, now an arrest can also occur whether or not the federal official says it’s an arrest. For example, if a federal officer takes a protest or into custody, transports that protester, let’s say, to a federal building, detains a person for questioning, that would constitute an arrest, whether or not the federal official says the person is under arrest. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:33:44)
Well, that would require a very intensive review of all the specifics involved.
Ted Lieu: (02:33:52)
Actually, it wouldn’t. In the case of Dunaway versus New York, which is black letter law for over 40 years, the question was whether the police violated the Fourth and Fifteenth Amendments when, without probable cause to arrest, they took petitioners into custody, transported him to a police station and detained him for questioning. The answer is, yes, that would constitute an arrest.
Wiliam Barr: (02:34:11)
No, the answer is that the Fourth amendment is ultimately governed by reasonableness and there can be circumstances. The question sometimes is, when does something actually become custody?
Ted Lieu: (02:34:22)
Reclaiming my time. This is not a trick question, Mr. Barr. I’m just citing you what the Supreme Court said. Here’s the problem: Under this standard, black letter law, which has been in effect for over 40 years, what the federal forces in Portland did was unconstitutional. Federal forces in full combat gear, in the dark of night, grabbed a protestor who was peacefully standing there, forced him into an unmarked van, drove him to a separate location, searched him, detained him and question him. That is what police states do. That’s what authoritarian regimes do.
Wiliam Barr: (02:35:01)
But I don’t think those were the facts.
Ted Lieu: (02:35:03)
I haven’t asked you a question yet, Mr. Barr.
Wiliam Barr: (02:35:05)
Ted Lieu: (02:35:05)
What the federal officials did was illegal because they didn’t have probable cause. How do we know that? Because Deputy Director of the Federal Protective Service Kris Kline admitted it on national TV. Deputy Director Cline said that the individual that they were questioning was in a crowd and in an area where another individual was aiming on laser at the eyes of officers, that’s guilt by association. That’s what the Fourth Amendment prohibits. Deputy Director Cline further stated that the protester was released after federal officials concluded quote, “They did not have what they needed,” unquote, which again, shows there was no probable cause. It appears that Federal Deputy Director Cline appears to understand that there was no probable cause because he’s essentially justifies that action as saying it wasn’t an arrest. He calls it, quote, “A simple engagement,” unquote.
Ted Lieu: (02:35:57)
I’m a former prosecutor. I’ve never heard that term, “A simple engagement,” because it’s a made up excuse. What these federal officials did was an arrest. They grabbed a peaceful protester, they forced him into a van, drove to another location, questioned him. That is exactly what the Supreme Court prohibited over 40 years ago. And that’s not an isolated incident. The Washington Post-
Wiliam Barr: (02:36:19)
I obviously don’t know the-
Ted Lieu: (02:36:20)
I haven’t asked you a question yet. In a Washington Post article on July 24th entitled “Operation: Diligent Valor,” federal agents told reporters that there’s no basis for these arrests. They said, quote, “At times they have grabbed an individual and taking them inside the courthouse for questioning before determining that they had no probable cause to charge him with any crime,” unquote. Deputy Director Cline said that they coordinate with the US Attorney’s Office on all of these arrests. I urge you to instruct your federal officials to comply with the Constitution and I ask you to investigate these arrests because many of them are in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We do not live in a police state. We are better than that.
Ted Lieu: (02:37:02)
I yield back.
Wiliam Barr: (02:37:03)
Jerrold Nadler: (02:37:05)
The gentleman yields back. Ms. Lesko.
Debbie Lesko: (02:37:07)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Since Representative Lieu didn’t allow you any time to answer his allegations, would you care to answer any of his allegations?
Wiliam Barr: (02:37:16)
Yes. I mean, obviously I don’t know all the particulars of any individual case out there, but based on my general understanding what had happened was that when they tried to effectuate arrests of the ringleaders or the people who were engaged in violence or that they saw with lasers and so forth and they went out, They were immediately swarmed by people in black and there was a lot of violence, so they couldn’t effectuate the arrest. The modus operandi was changed, and based on a specific information as the individuals who were seen doing things and identified, they later tried to pick them up when there was less of a risk of this kind of mob response.
Wiliam Barr: (02:37:58)
The fact that if you have information that someone has a laser and is using it and later pick him up and he doesn’t have it, it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t probable cause, it means he doesn’t have the laser. The question is, was it reasonable for you to rely on the information that you had and the identification of that individual? In some cases it could be a misidentification, in other cases it could be the person ditched the laser. There is a distinction between whether the person ultimately can be shown to have violated the law and whether there was probable cause for the police to make the inquiry and take him and interrogate him or ask him questions at least.
Debbie Lesko: (02:38:39)
Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. I have to tell you, you probably know this, my constituents are scared. Americans are scared. I mean, they watch the TV, they see all this rioting, looting going on, statues being torn down. In Arizona, where I’m from, more guns are being sold than ever. I think there’s more new gun owners than ever. This has to stop. I think that it’s really important, as the saying goes, that in order to solve a problem, the first step is to realize there’s a problem. I find it very disturbing, should I say, that Chairman Nadler denies that Antifa even exists. He said it to a reporter. He said on the floor of the United United States House of Representatives that it was a fantasy, a made up fantasy.
Debbie Lesko: (02:39:43)
Then in this very room just recently Congresswoman Jayapal, who represents the Seattle area, said when I was talking about the autonomous zone and the takeover, she said, “The area is just a few miles from where I sit right now and there is no takeover. There is no takeover.” She also said, “Lies are being spread by my colleagues in this committee. This area is perfectly peaceful.” She also said, “My Republican colleagues keep saying the Seattle police precinct was taken over by protesters. This is incorrect. Incorrect. No one has taken over that building.”
Debbie Lesko: (02:40:33)
Mr. Attorney general, is that your understanding of what happened there? Do you agree with Mrs. Jayapal, that there was no takeover? It was just peaceful?
Pramila Jayapal: (02:40:41)
Debbie Lesko: (02:40:42)
Pramila Jayapal: (02:40:42)
If you’re going to say my name, please say it right. It’s Jayapal.
Debbie Lesko: (02:40:46)
Jayapal. Would you agree with that? Also, in answer, why do you think these autonomous zones in Democrat-led cities are dangerous to America?
Wiliam Barr: (02:41:01)
Well, starting with, they’re dangerous because they are purporting to keep on the outside duly-constituted authority of the government. They’re also, to me, outrageous because the people who are living now under this autonomous zone, haven’t selected the government. They’ve selected the duly-authorized government of the city and the state. It’s quite an outrage that people would take use force to take over an area.
Wiliam Barr: (02:41:32)
What makes me concerned for the country is this is the first time in my memory that the leaders of one of our great two political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts. Why can’t we just say the violence against federal courts has to stop? Could we hear something like that?
Debbie Lesko: (02:41:58)
Mr. Attorney General, I totally agree. I support what you’re doing and I support what President Trump is doing for law and order in our country. I yield back.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:42:08)
The gentlelady yields back. The committee will stand in recess for five minutes.
Jerrold Nadler: (02:42:11)
Mr. Cicilline: (02:53:52)
And the finding of Russian interference in our election. In March, 2019, you sent a letter to the committee, mischaracterizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion to benefit Donald Trump. Mr. Mueller promptly sent you a letter calling you out for your mischaracterization and you never corrected it. You then delayed the release of the full report, leaving the American people stewing with your misleading summary in support of President trump’s bogus claims that there was no collusion nor obstruction. You repeat these claims today. There was no basis for this investigation and it was politically motivated by calling it the ‘Russiagate Scandal’. But of course, in December of 2019, the justice department’s own inspector general, your department’s Michael Horowitz found that the investigation had been initiated properly and without political bias, isn’t that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:54:44)
Mr. Cicilline: (02:54:46)
It’s not correct. That was not Mr. Horowitz’s finding?
Wiliam Barr: (02:54:48)
No. He said-
Mr. Cicilline: (02:54:51)
You are wrong, Mr. Attorney General. He’s found the investigation [crosstalk 02:54:54] initiated properly.
Wiliam Barr: (02:54:56)
He said he found [crosstalk 00:09:56].
Mr. Cicilline: (02:54:57)
Reclaiming my time, without political bias.
Wiliam Barr: (02:55:00)
He said he found out evidence-
Mr. Cicilline: (02:55:01)
Reclaiming my time, Mr. Attorney General. And in April of this year, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously found that Russia interfered with our elections and attempted to undermine American democracy. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (02:55:15)
And I said so too.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:55:16)
Is it ever appropriate sir for the president to solicit or accept foreign assistance in an election?
Wiliam Barr: (02:55:24)
It depends what kind of assistance.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:55:26)
Is it ever appropriate for the president or presidential candidate to accept or solicit foreign assistance of any kind in his or her election?
Wiliam Barr: (02:55:38)
No, it’s not appropriate.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:55:39)
Okay. Sorry you had to struggle with that one, Mr. Attorney General. Now let’s turn to the First Amendment, Americans all across this country have been exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest police brutality against black people. I’ve read your statement. I listened to you this morning and we’re certainly aware of certain individuals who have engaged in violent acts and we all agree that’s wrong, but there was a lot missing from your statement. For example, as I’m sure you’ve also seen the vast majority of protestors are peaceful. And despite that unidentified federal agents have attempted to prevent these mothers, veterans and peaceful Americans from exercising their first amendment rights, even using unmarked vehicles to grab protesters off the street and using tear gas, ammunition against them. You forcefully condemn protesters this morning, but let me ask you, sir, why have you not condemned the federal office that you’re sending into cities without proper training or attempting to take away the constitutional rights of Americans peacefully protesting?
Wiliam Barr: (02:56:37)
I haven’t condemned protesters. Protesters are good. Demonstrations are good. They’re part of the First Amendment. What I’m condemning is people who commit crime.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:56:46)
Yeah, we agree. Do you think it’s ever appropriate Mr. Barr for officers to use force against peaceful protestors? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:56:53)
Not against peaceful protesters.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:56:55)
So you also don’t mention in your statement today or your testimony that federal officers have even teargassed elected representatives. County Commissioner Sharon Myron confirmed firsthand, “Last night I was teargassed by a federal occupying force. I saw her throw canisters of poison without warning into a nonviolent crowd, including elders and the vulnerable.” And on July 23rd, the mayor, Ted Wheeler, was teargassed. He called the tactics of the officers, “Abhorrent.” These are elected representatives with grave concerns that officers are using abhorrent tactics, including teargassing elderly nonviolent Americans. So let me ask you, sir, do you think it’s ever appropriate to use tear gas on peaceful protesters? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:57:39)
Well, the problem in these things sometimes occur because it’s hard to separate people who may-
Mr. Cicilline: (02:57:44)
Mr. Barr my question is very specific. Do you think it is ever appropriate to use tear gas on peaceful protestors? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:57:52)
It is appropriate to use tear gas when it’s indicated to disperse-
Mr. Cicilline: (02:57:57)
On peaceful protestors?
Wiliam Barr: (02:57:57)
To disperse an unlawful assembly, and sometimes, unfortunately, peaceful protesters are effected by that.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:58:03)
Okay. Now I’m going to show you this video evidence as well. I’m going to ask you to look at this video.
Speaker 38: (02:58:11)
This is the video that’s capturing the nation’s attention this weekend. Shot by [inaudible 02:58:21].
Mr. Cicilline: (02:58:23)
That video is of Christopher David, a Navy veteran, being beaten and teargassed by the officers. Do you think that was appropriate?
Wiliam Barr: (02:58:31)
Well, I didn’t see him teargassed. There seems to be gas in the area, I don’t know what kind of gas it was and I don’t know whether it was directed at him.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:58:39)
Do you think what happened to David was appropriate Mr. Barr?
Wiliam Barr: (02:58:42)
The Inspector General is reviewing that particular incident.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:58:44)
Do you think he deserved to get pepper sprayed and beaten to the point of broken bones?
Wiliam Barr: (02:58:49)
As I said, the Inspector General is going to review the incident.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:58:52)
So as the top law enforcement official in our country. Do you think Americans who show up to peacefully protest, should expect to be beaten and pepper sprayed and have their bones broken by federal officers?
Wiliam Barr: (02:59:04)
Well, I don’t think that what was happening immediately around the courthouse was a peaceful protest.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:59:09)
That’s not my question, Mr. Barr.
Wiliam Barr: (02:59:10)
That’s where that [crosstalk 02:59:10].
Mr. Cicilline: (02:59:11)
My question is, do you think as the chief… Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Barr.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:59:17)
My question is, do you think as the top law enforcement official in this country, that Americans who show up to peacefully protest should expect to be beaten, pepper sprayed and have their bones broken by federal officials? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (02:59:28)
I don’t think peaceful protesters should face that.
Mr. Cicilline: (02:59:31)
And that’s correct. And isn’t protecting the First Amendment freedom of Americans, at least as important as protecting a building from vandalism-
Wiliam Barr: (02:59:39)
Mr. Cicilline: (02:59:39)
We fought for… I have not posed a question. We’ve fought for a democracy for the right to speak freely, and you are attempting to take that away. What’s worse, you’re doing it for the sole purpose of furthering the president’s political agenda and generating footage for Trump campaign commercials. The justice department is responsible for protecting the constitutional rights of Americans. Not to serve as the president’s personal bully or political director.
Mr. Cicilline: (03:00:01)
And speaking of protesters, it’s worth remembering, every suffragette, every person who marched to end child labor, every abolitionists who demanded an end to slavery, was a protester. The revolutionaries who transformed us from colonies into a nation, were protesters. Protesters aren’t chaos. They’re deeply American examples of values. A desire for this country to be at its best self. They’re righteous. Sometimes they’re necessary. One of America’s most beloved and effective protestors, John Lewis, lies in state a thousand feet from here in a deserved place of honor. And sir, your failure to respect the role of peaceful protest in this country is a disgrace, it’s un-American. And it’s important to remember what these protests were about; Black Lives Matter. Abuse at the hands of police by black Americans, and I want to let you see now a video that fairly represents peaceful protests that is happening all across America, that you conveniently omitted from your testimony and your statement. Yeah, there was a nine [inaudible 03:01:05] of video shown by the other side so I expect [crosstalk 03:01:06]-
Mr. Jordan: (03:01:07)
Not all nine, only part of it. Mr. Chairman, [crosstalk 00:17:27]. Mr. Chairman just real quick. I don’t think we’ve ever had a hearing where the witness wasn’t allowed to respond to points made, questions asked and attacks made. Not just in this hearing, not just in this committee, but every committee had been on [crosstalk 00:17:45]. Particularly when you think about the fact that we got the attorney general of the United States here.
Mr. Chairman: (03:02:49)
Gentleman does not have the time.
Mr. Jordan: (03:02:52)
I don’t want the time. I want the attorney general to be able to have enough time to respond to accusations and questions asked him and you guys now cut him off.
Mr. Chairman: (03:03:01)
What you want is irrelevant. What are relevant are the rules. Mr. Steube is recognized.
Mr. Steube: (03:03:08)
Mr. Chairman, am I going to get an additional two and a half minutes that Mr. Cicilline had?
Mr. Chairman: (03:03:14)
The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. Steube: (03:03:17)
General Barr, thank you for your service to our country and your continued service to ensure that our country is safe. I encourage you to ignore the mob. These attacks from Democrats and the left wing bias mainstream media. Be strong and courageous, for the mass majority of the country supports you and supports you rooting out corruption in the FBI, and keeping our country safe from rioters, looters, and anarchists. I for one, I’m very happy that you’re at the helm of the DOJ and actually supporting the rule of law and fighting for justice. I want to touch on something that Mr. Jordan spoke about in his opening remarks.
Mr. Steube: (03:03:51)
I want to focus on the inspector general’s December 9th, FISA report on the FBI’s unlawful surveillance of Trump campaign associate, Carter Page. Isn’t it true, the inspector general found the FBI, under the Obama Biden administration, made 17 significant errors in FISA applications to surveil candidate Trump’s campaign associate, Carter Page?
Wiliam Barr: (03:04:12)
I think that’s right.
Mr. Steube: (03:04:16)
How many errors are acceptable when the FBI is targeting Americans?
Wiliam Barr: (03:04:21)
Well, none are acceptable.
Mr. Steube: (03:04:25)
Then there was the complete Woods files failures, the FBI operated under during the Obama-Biden administration. The inspector general found that 51 factual assertions in the FISA applications to surveil Page; one, lacked supporting documentation; two, the supporting document did not support the FBI’s factual assertions or three, the supporting documents showed the FBI’s factual assertion was inaccurate. The inspector general testified there should not have even been one error yet he found 51 errors. Why is it so important for surveillance targeting Americans to be error-free?
Wiliam Barr: (03:05:00)
Well, especially under FISA, which is a counterintelligence tool and doesn’t have the same built-in protections that the criminal justice process would have. It’s very important because you’re going to be spying on Americans that you’ve demonstrated inappropriate basis for doing that. And therefore there’s a special burden on the investigative agency.
Wiliam Barr: (03:05:28)
In this case, the FBI, to have accurate information as to the basis of their surveillance. And I think the Bureau has been working very hard to correct those problems and to put in place a much more effective system of guaranteeing that the information is accurate.
Mr. Steube: (03:05:50)
Isn’t it true the FBI, the Obama-Biden administration, cherry-picked favorable evidence to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page and ignored facts that cut against probable cause?
Wiliam Barr: (03:06:02)
Well, I don’t want to characterize. I mean, this is part of what’s under review. Some exculpatory information was not passed along to the court. Let me just put it that way. That’s evident in the inspector general’s report.
Mr. Steube: (03:06:20)
I’ll yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Jordan.
Mr. Jordan: (03:06:25)
Thank the gentleman for yielding. Mr. Attorney General, do you deploy federal law enforcement to enforce federal law?
Wiliam Barr: (03:06:31)
Mr. Jordan: (03:06:32)
Do you deploy federal law enforcement to protect federal property?
Wiliam Barr: (03:06:35)
Mr. Jordan: (03:06:36)
Will the federal building in Portland be standing today, if you had not deployed federal law enforcement?
Wiliam Barr: (03:06:42)
I don’t think so. There’ve been multiple attempts to set it afire.
Mr. Jordan: (03:06:46)
Wiliam Barr: (03:06:47)
And I have to say, I don’t understand why a small contingent of marshals inside the court poses a threat to anybody’s first amendment rights. They set up a fence on federal property, I am told, around the court and when people are arrested, it’s because they’re trying to come into the fence. These aren’t peaceful protesters. They bring power tools to cut through the wire and so forth to get in. This is a very strange occupation of estate. When you have a 100, 120 federal people behind the fence trying to protect the building.
Wiliam Barr: (03:07:21)
And all these people are trying to cut their way in, that is the occupation of a city.
Mr. Jordan: (03:07:27)
Thank you. Did the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president ask for your help?
Wiliam Barr: (03:07:37)
Did who asked for my help?
Mr. Jordan: (03:07:38)
The head of FOP in Chicago. Did he ask for your help?
Wiliam Barr: (03:07:41)
I think he did. I think he did.
Mr. Jordan: (03:07:46)
Previous exchange, they talked about Mr. Horowitz’s report. Is there anything you’d like to add? You didn’t get a chance to respond to that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:07:54)
Yeah. My recollection of the report is it didn’t find there was no bias, and he made that clear in subsequent testimony. What he said was he couldn’t find no documentary or other evidence demonstrating bias.
Mr. Jordan: (03:08:10)
Yeah, and would be helpful if maybe Mr. Horowitz could come in front of this committee and the individual who was raising that concern with you, Mr. Attorney General, could ask Mr. Horowitz himself about what he found in that report and subsequent reports that we have not yet had a hearing on.
Mr. Chairman: (03:08:23)
The gentleman’s time has expired. Mr. Raskin.
Mr. Raskin: (03:08:27)
Thank you. Sir, did I hear you correctly say that the purpose of unleashing this federal agent assault with tear gas and rubber bullets and pepper spray on 2000 nonviolent protestors in Lafayette Square, was to secure and defend the St. John’s Episcopal Church? Was that the purpose of it?
Wiliam Barr: (03:08:44)
No, I didn’t say that. I made it very clear that the purpose was to move the perimeter to [I Street 00:23:49], which had been the plan as far as I’m aware all day [inaudible 03:08:53] before.
Mr. Raskin: (03:08:55)
So it was a legitimate in that case-
Wiliam Barr: (03:08:57)
I’m talking about the June 1st.
Mr. Raskin: (03:08:59)
Yeah, the June 1st assault on a lot of people, including my constituents. Including my constituents [crosstalk 03:09:04] bring them to your office to talk about it.
Wiliam Barr: (03:09:06)
Well, I don’t think it was an assault. They were told by loudspeaker that the park police were preparing to clear H street. Could they move [crosstalk 03:09:13] street.
Mr. Raskin: (03:09:14)
Reclaiming my time. I think you said something to the effect of the St. John’s Episcopal Church would have been over run-
Wiliam Barr: (03:09:18)
Yeah, that was Sunday night, I believe. And I hope I [crosstalk 00:24:21].
Mr. Raskin: (03:09:21)
Are you aware that the rector of the church, the Episcopal Archbishop of Washington and the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, nationally, along with the Catholic Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, all denounced this police assault on the civil rights and civil liberties of the people?
Wiliam Barr: (03:09:38)
Did they do that before or after the fire was put out?
Mr. Raskin: (03:09:41)
Well, all that I know is that they denounced what you did. And if you read what the Episcopal Archbishop of Washington wrote, said that, “Using police force to clear nonviolent protestors without notice, in order to conduct this grotesque photo opportunity was antithetical to the principles of Christianity.” But what I want to ask you about was COVID-19, because we now lead the world in COVID-19 case count and death count. President Trump of course, promised the disease would magically disappear. He advertised quack medical cures like injecting people with disinfectant. He told his people to slow down all the testing and refused for months to wear a mask. Last night, he reiterated a number of messages claiming that Dr. Fauci misled the American people by dismissing hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the disease. So now we have 150,000 dead Americans, 4 million infected, 40 million jobless.
Mr. Raskin: (03:10:45)
We lose more than a thousand people every day. One American every 90 seconds, but you called his public health leadership superb. And you threw the weight of the justice department behind his campaign to shut down state public health orders in March and April. Now, if you look at the screen, you will see two tweets from the president of the United States, “Liberate Michigan. Liberate Virginia.” On April 17th, he reiterated the slogans of right wing protesters that are blocking access to hospitals and trying to overthrow public health orders in those states. And you snapped attention on April 27th, you designated a prosecutor to try to bring down those very public health orders in Michigan and Virginia.
Mr. Raskin: (03:11:33)
Two days later, armed right wing protesters and white supremacists disrupted the Michigan legislature, leveling death threats against Governor Whitmer, confronting police, taunting lawmakers and forcing the legislature to shut down as they brandish their long guns and shouted in the faces of police officers.
Mr. Raskin: (03:11:51)
But you didn’t send in a secret paramilitary police force on horseback to unleash tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs, and rubber bullets against these protestors storming the state capital of Michigan. No, you embraced their cause by joining litigation against the governors of Michigan and Virginia. Now, of course, your side lost your motions for emergency injunctions, but you’ve got to spread Trump’s message that it was time to call off the stay-at-home orders, the masking and social distancing. Here’s what you said on national TV that go in to claim in April that the cure was worse than the disease. Quote, ” You can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say, well, we’re killing the cancer because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient.” Do you remember saying that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:12:40)
Mr. Raskin: (03:12:40)
And what do you mean by that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:12:42)
Exactly what it says. You have to balance the cure with the danger, which we leave to governors. I know everyone likes to lay everything at the feet of the president but this is a federal republic. And the president respected that. And our response has been largely run by governors. Now for someone who claims to be so concerned about executive overreach, I haven’t heard anyone talk about just keeping an eye on what the governors are doing.
Wiliam Barr: (03:13:10)
[crosstalk 03:13:10]. And that is what the Department of Justice is doing, especially in the area of liberty.
Mr. Raskin: (03:13:11)
With note that the Supreme Court rejected your position on religious liberty, 5-4 and said there was nothing wrong with applying public health orders to churches.
Wiliam Barr: (03:13:25)
That was on an injunction.
Mr. Raskin: (03:13:26)
Did you accept that or you don’t accept it? Well, we’ll talk about it later. Mr. Barr, with no vaccine, no treatment, no cure in sight, you work to disarm the states of the only weapon we have against this disease [crosstalk 03:13:40] public health measures. And now we pay the price of this policy in overrun intensive care units and morgues, a shortage of coffins and refrigerated trucks, and an out of control pandemic, which makes us a global pariah state whose citizens cannot enter dozens of foreign countries, including Canada. Do you know what Dr. Fauci was saying at the same time that you were moving to take down those public health orders? Here’s what Dr. Fauci was warning us about three months ago, about the premature abandonment of health orders. If only you would listen, he said, “I feel if that occurs, there is a real risk. You will trigger an outbreak and you may not be able to control it, which in fact [crosstalk 03:14:18].”
Wiliam Barr: (03:14:19)
We were not taking down public health orders. We were making narrow [crosstalk 03:14:22].
Mr. Chairman: (03:14:22)
The gentleman’s time has expired.
Mr. Raskin: (03:14:25)
Will you restore my time because this witness is speaking over my time.
Mr. Jordan: (03:14:29)
You went overtime. Let the witness respond.
Speaker 39: (03:14:31)
He’s trying to [crosstalk 03:14:31].
Mr. Chairman: (03:14:32)
The gentleman’s time has expired. Who seeks recognition?
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:14:35)
Mr. Chairman: (03:14:35)
Gentleman is recognized.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:14:37)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. We do have a governor in Virginia who is engaged in overreach, particularly regarding the civil rights of Virginians and their expression of their religious faith. So I want to give the attorney general the opportunity to respond to the gentleman from Maryland.
Wiliam Barr: (03:14:52)
We adopted a very narrow approach of calling to the attention, usually by letter not by lawsuit, of situations where they were treating religion worse than they were other kinds of organizations and gatherings. And the constitution requires that it be treated the same. And we were calling those to the attention of the governors, and most of the governors that we called attention to voluntarily changed their own orders. There are a few occasions where we pointed out anomalies in the differential regulation of business.
Wiliam Barr: (03:15:24)
And again, mostly they were voluntarily changed by the governors. So this was not a wholesale attack on stay-at-home orders. It was just that these are very broad powers that have been ceded, basically telling everyone to stay at home and only work if you’re an essential business and so forth. And therefore someone has to keep an eye on that and make sure there’s no overreach. And as time went by, there were times where you had these crazy rules in effect. They were overly burdensome and raised constitutional problems.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:15:56)
I want to thank you for raising those points early, and particularly with regard to Virginia and the church out on the Eastern Shore. I want to thank you also for being here and for returning to lead the department of justice and right the ship and root out the rank partisanship and bias that had corrupted the administration of justice for many years. The Democrats allege that Attorney General Barr has politicized the justice department, doing the personal bidding of President Trump but it’s not only unfounded, it’s especially hypocritical in light of the politicization that occurred during the Obama-Biden administration, led by President Obama’s self-described wingman Attorney General Eric Holder.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:16:40)
The Obama-Biden Justice Department investigated journalists, shut out career prosecutors and flouted congressional oversight. Want to ask, particularly, even after President Trump assumed office, FBI lawyers exhibited bias against Trump while working for both Mueller and the FBI’s Russia investigation, and the inspector general couldn’t rule out political animus against candidate Trump as influencing FBI abuse. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:17:08)
That’s my understanding.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:17:11)
The inspector general found that an FBI lawyer altered evidence to support a FISA application to surveil Carter Page and criminally referred this lawyer to Durham for federal prosecution. The same lawyer who also worked on the investigations in the Clinton’s misuse, classified information in Russia collusion expressed bias against President Trump and the inspector general testified back in December that he can’t rule out bias. Mr. Attorney General, I’d ask, what would the consequences be to one of your justice department lawyers if they doctored underlying documents so they could support evidence submitted to a federal court?
Wiliam Barr: (03:17:46)
In the abstract, talking generally, that lawyer would be fired.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:17:50)
Would they likely to be disbarred as well?
Wiliam Barr: (03:17:52)
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:17:53)
And isn’t it true that the IG found that an FBI lawyer doctored an email to support probable cause against candidate Trump’s campaign aid?
Wiliam Barr: (03:18:00)
I think that’s right.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:18:03)
And the same FBI…
Wiliam Barr: (03:18:03)
I think that’s right.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:18:03)
And the same FBI lawyer worked on the Russia investigation, targeting candidate Trump’s campaign and was on the special Counsel Mueller team investigating President Trump correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:18:15)
I’m not sure about that.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:18:17)
And while working on those investigations, the inspector general found several texts showing that animus correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:18:26)
On that particular lawyer? I believe so.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:18:28)
Wiliam Barr: (03:18:30)
I can’t remember the timeframe of the texts, but I know there were other texts.
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:18:35)
I’m going to talk to you about the unmasking that occurred, where Mr. Grenell released a list of 39 officials who submitted a request to unmask the identity of General Flynn from November 8th, 2016 to January 31st, 2017. 49 requests were submitted. Is that a normal number of requests for unmasking?
Wiliam Barr: (03:18:57)
Historically, that seems to be a high number, and the other question you have to ask is why was this after the election?
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:19:06)
And seven treasury officials, including Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary Sarah Raskin. Is that a normal occurrence?
Wiliam Barr: (03:19:18)
There are times where high level officials can do it. I don’t know enough about the specifics [crosstalk 00:01:23].
Mr. Ben Clive: (03:19:23)
I yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Jordan.
Mr. Jordan: (03:19:26)
Mr. Attorney General, what’s more important? Going to church or going to a protest?
Wiliam Barr: (03:19:29)
It depends on the individual.
Mr. Jordan: (03:19:32)
Both covered under the First Amendment right?
Wiliam Barr: (03:19:34)
Mr. Jordan: (03:19:34)
Yeah. What’s more important going to work or going to a protest?
Wiliam Barr: (03:19:41)
Again, it depends on the individual. We’re all free. We can all make our choices.
Mr. Jordan: (03:19:46)
I’m talking about government limits on those activities. What’s more important? Government putting limits on protesting or governments putting a limit on attending church?
Wiliam Barr: (03:20:02)
They’re both First Amendment.
Mr. Jordan: (03:20:03)
Wiliam Barr: (03:20:04)
Mr. Jordan: (03:20:04)
Exactly, and we should treat them the same, shouldn’t we?
Wiliam Barr: (03:20:05)
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:20:06)
Gentleman’s time has expired. Miss Jayapal.
Miss Jayapal: (03:20:12)
Mr. Barr, on June 1st, there were protests against the murder of George Floyd and police brutality in Lafayette Park. Let us not be distracted by you or my GOP colleagues as to what these powerful and massive protests were actually about. They were about the persistent killing of black bodies by law enforcement, and finally, finally an awakening in America of the conscience of our country. And yet your response, Mr. Barr, was to direct federal officers to close in on the protesters and to use shields offensively as weapons, tear gas, pepper balls, irritants, explosive devices, batons and horses to clear the area just so the president could get a photo op. So I do want to ask you, do you think that your response, do you think the response at Lafayette Square to tear gas, pepper spray, and beat protesters and injure American citizens who were just simply exercising their First Amendment rights was appropriate?
Wiliam Barr: (03:21:23)
Well first, it’s my understanding that no tear gas was used on Monday, June 1st.
Miss Jayapal: (03:21:25)
Mr. Barr, that is a semantic distinction that has been proven false by many fact- checkers. Do you think-
Wiliam Barr: (03:21:32)
How is it semantic? Tear gas is a particular compound.
Miss Jayapal: (03:21:34)
You talked about chemical irritants and it has been proven false by reports, so just answer the question. Do you think-
Wiliam Barr: (03:21:41)
Well, I think pepper spray-
Miss Jayapal: (03:21:42)
That it was appropriate at Lafayette Park to pepper spray, tear gas and beat protestors and injure American citizens?
Wiliam Barr: (03:21:51)
Well I don’t accept your characterization of what happened, but as I explained, the effort there was-
Miss Jayapal: (03:21:57)
Mr. Barr, I just asked for a yes or no-
Wiliam Barr: (03:21:59)
The effort there was [crosstalk 00:03:58]-
Miss Jayapal: (03:21:59)
So let me just tell you, I’m starting to lose my temper, according to sworn testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee by Army National Guard Officer Adam DeMarco who was there, this was, “An unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force against peaceful protestors.” Numerous media reports confirmed-
Wiliam Barr: (03:22:20)
I don’t remember DeMarco as being-
Miss Jayapal: (03:22:21)
Mr. Barr, excuse me. This is my time.
Wiliam Barr: (03:22:23)
Involved in any of the decision making.
Miss Jayapal: (03:22:24)
Sir, sir, the president told governors on a telephone call that the way to deal with the protestors of police brutality and systemic racism like in Lafayette Square is that, “You have to get much tougher. You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. These are terrorists.” And he also talked about you on that call sir. Here’s what he said. He said, “The Attorney General is here, Bill Barr, and we will activate Bill Barr and activate him strongly.” Do you remember that call Mr. Barr?
Wiliam Barr: (03:22:58)
Yes I do, but he wasn’t talking about protesters. He was talking about rioters.
Miss Jayapal: (03:23:01)
Mr. Barr, apparently the president believes that you can be activated to implement the president’s agenda and dominate American people exercising First Amendment rights if they’re protesting against him. But let’s look at how you respond when the protesters are supporters of the president. On two separate occasions, after President Trump tweeted liberate Michigan to subvert stay home orders to protect the public health of people in Michigan, protesters swarmed the Michigan capital carrying guns. Some with swastikas, Confederate flags, and one even with a dark haired doll with a noose around its neck. Are you aware that these protesters called for the governor to be lynched, shot and beheaded?
Wiliam Barr: (03:23:52)
Miss Jayapal: (03:23:53)
You’re not aware of that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:23:54)
I was not aware of that.
Miss Jayapal: (03:23:55)
Major protests in Michigan, you’re the attorney general, and you didn’t know that the protestors called for the governor to be lynched, shot and beheaded? So obviously you couldn’t be concerned about that. You didn’t-
Wiliam Barr: (03:24:06)
Well, there were a lot of protests around the United States and on June 1st-
Miss Jayapal: (03:24:10)
Attorney General Barr, you seemed to be engaging in protests-
Wiliam Barr: (03:24:14)
I was worried about the district of Columbia which is federal.
Miss Jayapal: (03:24:14)
In certain parts of the country. You’re very aware of those, but when protestors with guns and swastikas and Confederate flags-
Wiliam Barr: (03:24:23)
I am aware of protestors-
Miss Jayapal: (03:24:23)
Excuse me Mr. Barr-
Wiliam Barr: (03:24:24)
In federal government.
Miss Jayapal: (03:24:24)
This is my time and I control it. You are aware of certain kinds of protesters, but in Michigan, when protesters carried guns and Confederate flags and swastikas and call for the governor of Michigan to be beheaded and shot and lynched, somehow you’re not aware of that. Somehow you didn’t know about it so you didn’t send federal agents in to do to the president’s supporters what you did to the president’s protesters. In fact, you didn’t put pepper balls on those protesters. So the point I’m trying to make here, Mr. Barr that I think is very important for the country to understand, is that there is a real discrepancy in how you react as the attorney general, the top cop in this country.
Miss Jayapal: (03:25:06)
When white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns, there is no need for the president to, “Activate you,” because they’re getting the president’s personal agenda done. But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism, and the president’s very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs, because they are considered terrorists by the president. You take an aggressive approach to black lives matter protests, but not to right wing extremists threatening to lynch a governor if it’s for the president’s benefit. Did I get it right, Mr. Barr?
Wiliam Barr: (03:25:51)
I have responsibility for the federal government and the White House is the seat of the [crosstalk 03:25:57]-
Miss Jayapal: (03:25:57)
Mr. Barr, let me just make it clear. You are supposed represent-
Wiliam Barr: (03:26:00)
The Michigan authorities can handle-
Miss Jayapal: (03:26:02)
The people of the United States-
Wiliam Barr: (03:26:03)
The Michigan authorities can handle-
Miss Jayapal: (03:26:03)
Of America, not violate people’s First Amendment rights. You are supposed to uphold democracy and secure equal justice under the law, not violently dismantle certain protestors based on the president’s personal agenda.
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:26:18)
Gentle lady’s time has expired.
Miss Jayapal: (03:26:20)
Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask unanimous consent to also introduce into the record a report from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, which says that over the past 20 years, more than 250 million ballots have been cast by male and the fraud rate is 0.00006%.
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:26:40)
Without objection, Mr. Reschenthaler.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:26:43)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you AG Barr for being here today. I truly appreciate it. And I’m sincere when I say it’s an honor. AG Barr, let me just-
Wiliam Barr: (03:26:53)
Could I just ask you for one minute though?
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:26:54)
To respond? Yeah.
Wiliam Barr: (03:26:55)
Yeah. As I made clear, moving H street out to I street as the perimeter was a decision made the day before. It was justified by the extreme rioting that was going on around the White House. I don’t remember Captain DeMarco, who is the same Captain DeMarco who ran as a democratic candidate for Congress in Maryland, even being close to the discussions as to what was going on. Now, the fact is that the movement was not geared to the behavior of that particular crowd. It was geared to the fact that we were moving the perimeter out so we could put a fence up on H street, by H street. It is a fact that the park police reported, and I saw myself projectiles being thrown from that crowd so I did not consider them at all peaceful protesters. I’m sorry. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:27:58)
You’re welcome AG Barr. AG Barr, I’d like to also talk about the violent protests that are there being seen in Seattle, specifically CHAZ and also Portland, Oregon. As you know, over the course of June and early July, several shootings occurred inside Seattle’s police free zone, including the tragic murders of a 16 year old and a 19 year old. There were numerous reports of robberies, assaults and property destruction as well.
Wiliam Barr: (03:28:26)
Sexual assaults as well.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:28:28)
Yes, and despite all this, all this chaos, all this violence, it took the Seattle mayor literally weeks to declare this an unlawful gathering and weeks before the police were allowed to clear that area. In similar circumstances, let’s talk about Portland, Oregon. It’s been going through eight weeks of violent rioting in the streets as well. Rioters continue, in fact, to fire projectiles and mortar style fireworks at federal law enforcement officers and are using dangerous lasers, which have already permanently blinded at least three federal officers. Yet our own chairman, Chairman Jerry Nadler, told a reporter on Sunday that the anarchy and violence going on in Portland and I quote the chairman, “Is a myth that is spread only in Washington, D.C.” Attorney General Barr, is it in fact a myth that there’s anarchy and anarchist groups engaging in violence in Portland?
Wiliam Barr: (03:29:25)
I think there are anarchist and far left groups that are involved in the violence in Portland. I actually think that the chairman’s comment was about Antifa. I don’t know exactly what he said, but I thought he was referring to Antifa.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:29:43)
Do you think it’s a myth that Antifa is involved in this anarchy?
Wiliam Barr: (03:29:47)
No. I think Antifa is involved in Portland.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:29:51)
So either way, the chairman’s comments where we’re not correct? We’re not accurate?
Wiliam Barr: (03:29:55)
I didn’t consider them accurate.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:29:57)
What about the autonomous zone in Seattle? Councilwoman Jayapal has said that, “It’s a peaceful protest zone.” Is it a peaceful protest zone?
Wiliam Barr: (03:30:08)
No. As I already said, it’s outrageous that people set themselves up over a piece of territory where the people in there have not selected them as the government and try to exercise sovereign authority. That’s an outrage. And we saw people handing out guns to people to “keep the peace” and so forth. It was anarchy there.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:30:33)
Your office has already charged several violent protesters with federal crimes. Can you just briefly elaborate on those crimes?
Wiliam Barr: (03:30:40)
Well, they’re the whole gamut. I think we’ve had 224. They run the gamut from throwing Molotov cocktails to assaulting a police officer, that kind of thing.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:31:00)
Thank you, AG Barr. I just want to say that I think, and I don’t know if you agree, that CHAZ and Portland are really like political experiments. They really show us what would happen if we fully embrace the radical ideology of the social justice Democrats. And now, according to Democrats, it’s the summer of love. According to the Congresswoman that represents Seattle, it’s a peaceful protest zone. Attorney General Barr, in reality, these cities are experiencing violence, chaos, and frankly just anarchy. So I think this political experiment has showed us that the liberal, social justice, Democrat style government has failed. Would you like to comment on that Attorney General Barr?
Wiliam Barr: (03:31:42)
Well, when I was first going through confirmation, I expressed concern about violence getting into our political system, and we’d seen some this intolerance and attacking people and I was very worried about that and how we’ve seen it sweeping through the country like this. And I hope the democratic party takes a stand against the violence.
Mr. Reschenthaler: (03:32:04)
Thank you and I yield my time.
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:32:06)
The gentleman yields back. Miss Demings.
Miss Demings: (03:32:10)
Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Barr, during your … Over here.
Wiliam Barr: (03:32:15)
Miss Demings: (03:32:15)
Over here in the corner. Earlier during your testimony, you talked about gun violence and you asked the question, what about those lives? And yes, Mr. Barr, those lives do matter. But do you believe that police officers should be held or are held to a higher standard?
Wiliam Barr: (03:32:34)
Yeah, and someone mentioned my comment about we shouldn’t permit resistance. We shouldn’t take that as a matter of course, but I’d never suggest that just because someone resists, that that justifies whatever’s done. By no means that it does.
Miss Demings: (03:32:46)
Thank you so much because good police officers also believe that they’re held to a higher standard so I’m glad to hear you say that. As a former police detective, I have solved many cases based on patterns of behavior, and there is an alarming pattern I believe that’s developing. It appears, Mr. Barr, every time a US attorney investigates the president or those close to him, he or she is removed and replaced by one of your friends. You have removed US attorneys in the Eastern district of New York, the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Texas. On June 19th, you announced Mr. Berman would be stepping down. And let me just be clear, when you told America that Mr. Berman was stepping down, did Mr. Berman tell you he was stepping down?
Wiliam Barr: (03:33:34)
Miss Demings: (03:33:35)
Okay. On [crosstalk 03:33:35]-
Wiliam Barr: (03:33:35)
But stepping down is the language that I am told.
Miss Demings: (03:33:39)
Okay. He did not tell you that.
Wiliam Barr: (03:33:41)
Miss Demings: (03:33:41)
Wiliam Barr: (03:33:41)
But it’s the language we usually use to leave flexibility as to whether the person is doing it on their own.
Miss Demings: (03:33:48)
On June 20th, when asked about the basis for Mr. Berman’s removal, on the very day you announced he was being fired, stepping down, the president’s personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani suggested that, ” The reason may lie in the fact that Berman’s office got involved in what Giuliani described as baseless investigations.” Sir, if that wasn’t true, if you didn’t remove Mr. Berman because he was overseeing investigations of the president and those close to him, why would the president’s personal attorney think that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:34:19)
I’m sorry. What did he say and when? I didn’t hear the quote.
Miss Demings: (03:34:23)
Mr. Giuliani suggests that-
Wiliam Barr: (03:34:26)
Miss Demings: (03:34:29)
June 20th, that he may have been fired because he was investigating baseless investigations.
Wiliam Barr: (03:34:35)
Well if he said that, that’s nonsense. Number one, anyone familiar with the Department of Justice would say that removing a component head is not going to have any effect on any pending investigation.
Miss Demings: (03:34:47)
Thanks, and I know you’re aware of reports that Berman’s office was in fact investigating the president’s former personal attorney, Mr. Cohen, his current personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani, his current personal attorney’s associates and his presidential inauguration. Mr. Barr-
Wiliam Barr: (03:35:05)
I don’t mean to suggest just by my silence that I’m confirming that. That seems to be your opinion.
Miss Demings: (03:35:11)
Okay. All right. Have you, in any way, attempted to influence or interfere with any investigation in the Southern District, including the investigations I just mentioned?
Wiliam Barr: (03:35:23)
I’ve not interfered in any investigation. I’ve raised questions on occasion about certain matters, but as far as I’m aware, the office was satisfied with the resolution [crosstalk 00:03:35:36].
Miss Demings: (03:35:37)
Mr. Berman testified your efforts to remove him bypassed the normal operation of law. Now we know the [crosstalk 03:35:42]-
Wiliam Barr: (03:35:42)
No they didn’t. No they didn’t.
Miss Demings: (03:35:42)
Opinion in the case that a sitting president cannot be indicted or criminally prosecuted, because you made sure President Trump understood that in your 19 page or however long application, job application. However, you are aware, the special counsel confirmed that a sitting president can be investigated. You did read that in the special counsel’s report. Is that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:36:06)
Miss Demings: (03:36:08)
Given Mr. Trump’s residence and former business location, the Southern District, Berman’s office would have decision making authority over whether to investigate the president in himself and you removed him.
Wiliam Barr: (03:36:21)
I’ve explained why I removed him.
Miss Demings: (03:36:24)
Okay. Sitting here today, under penalty of perjury, do you still maintain, as you stated in a February 13th interview, that the president has never asked you to do anything in a criminal case? Yes or no please.
Wiliam Barr: (03:36:38)
Yeah, no. Will I confirm it?
Miss Demings: (03:36:41)
Wiliam Barr: (03:36:41)
Is that the question?
Miss Demings: (03:36:42)
Do you stand by your testimony or you’re-
Wiliam Barr: (03:36:45)
He has never asked me, directed me, pressured me to do anything in a criminal case.
Miss Demings: (03:36:50)
Okay. All right. You are aware, and I think you had this conversation earlier with one of my colleagues, that the president’s former attorney, Mr. Cohen was released early from prison due to concerns of COVID-19.
Wiliam Barr: (03:37:03)
Miss Demings: (03:37:03)
Okay, and why did you support the decision to send Mr. Cohen back to prison?
Wiliam Barr: (03:37:08)
I didn’t even know the decision to send him back to prison.
Miss Demings: (03:37:10)
Did you support it, after you-
Wiliam Barr: (03:37:13)
Well, I haven’t looked into it enough, but my understanding-
Speaker 40: (03:37:16)
Gentlewoman’s [crosstalk 03:37:15].
Wiliam Barr: (03:37:16)
Of why it happened was-
Miss Demings: (03:37:18)
Mr. Barr, as a former police chief-
Speaker 40: (03:37:22)
The gentlewoman’s time has expired.
Miss Demings: (03:37:22)
The president has made a mockery of the Department of Justice, and I believe as the nation’s top cop, no one should care more about that than you.
Wiliam Barr: (03:37:33)
The Bureau of prisons-
Miss Demings: (03:37:35)
Chairwoman, I yield back. Thank you.
Speaker 40: (03:37:36)
Mr. Armstrong is recognized for five minutes.
Mr. Armstrong: (03:37:37)
Thank you, Madam chair. 10 years ago, this summer in July, in my hometown, it was a beautiful day. People were golfing, kids were swimming, everybody was playing baseball, just a perfect, gorgeous sunny summer day in Dickinson, North Dakota. And in the span of eight minutes, a tornado came through it and destroyed, caused unbelievable economic devastation. I’m thinking anybody who woke up the next morning said it was a mostly peaceful day. And I want us to talk specifically about what’s going on in Portland with you, Mr. Attorney General, because for 61 nights, the federal courthouse is under siege, but not just the courthouse, federal agents are under siege. You have men and women, they’re protecting that courthouse. Now I have no doubt if they were there, that courthouse would not be standing right now. Would you agree with that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:38:19)
Mr. Armstrong: (03:38:20)
And I think one of our problems is, is how we talk about this and how it’s covered versus what is actually going on every single night in Portland at that courthouse. Can you explain what your officers and your agents are going through over there?
Wiliam Barr: (03:38:34)
Yes. I’m talking about the US Marshals who were in the courthouse. They have initially tried to contain themselves in the courthouse. They’ve been efforts to push through in the main door. When people have succeeded in breaching the courthouse, they’ve thrown kerosene and fireworks and started fires, so then the effort was to make sure that they cannot breach. There still have been breaches into the courthouse, but basically, they try to remain in there, and starting after the fourth, they tried to arrest the people who were directing fireworks. They would climb up onto the side of the court, break windows, shoot fireworks, and whenever the Marshals came out to try to put an end to that or interdict it, they were shot at with slingshots. Lasers were constantly being put into their eyes even when they’re inside the courthouse. There’s a good description of it in an AP’s [crosstalk 03:39:33].
Mr. Armstrong: (03:39:33)
I was just going to quote that. We don’t have to take your word. “I watched as injured officers were hauled inside. In one case, the commercial firework came over so fast, the officer didn’t have time to respond. It burned through his sleeve and he had bloody gashes on both forearms. Another had a concussion from being hit in the head with a mortar.”
Wiliam Barr: (03:39:52)
Right. That’s right, and we’ve had a lot of injuries out there, and these are people who this Congress has charged with protecting federal courts. They’re directed to protect federal courts in the US code and they are under attack and injured and it’s been constant for 60 days.
Mr. Armstrong: (03:40:15)
Acting secretary Wolf has said that the violent mobs are publishing personal information of federal officers, jeopardizing not only them, but their families. Why is doxing federal agents so dangerous and are you concerned about it?
Wiliam Barr: (03:40:28)
Well, it’s dangerous because people can take retaliation against their homes, their families or them, when they’re by themselves. I see some of these Latin American countries in central America where the police are very, very brave because the gangs they’re trying to deal with go to their houses and kill their families. And you never think that could happen here, but you can never think some of the stuff we’re seeing today could ever happen here.
Mr. Armstrong: (03:41:00)
Is being burned by essentially improvised, explosive device, being blinded by lasers, is this something that typically happens with federal Marshals in federal courthouses?
Wiliam Barr: (03:41:10)
No, not at all.
Mr. Armstrong: (03:41:13)
How is this going for recruitment, morale? How are they doing? I generally want to know how are they doing.
Wiliam Barr: (03:41:20)
Well I think that IP story gives you a feel. They feel that’s their duty and they feel that’s where they have to be. A number of them are from that area, but they’re extremely tired and we’ve had to rotate in some more or put in some more people because they’re very, very tired and you make mistakes when you’re tired.
Mr. Armstrong: (03:41:39)
Well, and I think that’s an important part because I think one of the most amazing parts of this whole thing. It started with under 30 agents there, and now it’s still under 100. 61 nights in a row, they defend against a siege, fires, burning down these things. You know what’s the most amazing thing? They get up every morning and that courthouse is still running. They’re still conducting the federal government’s business. So I’m going to say something that I think should be said a lot more often. Tell them thank you. Tell the courthouse personnel thank you. Tell the clerks thank you. Tell the prosecutors thank you. Tell the judges thank you. And if you can handle it, can you tell the public defenders thank you too because they’re still conducting the business. They do this every single night. Are they getting sleep?
Wiliam Barr: (03:42:19)
The Marshals are having a difficult time because the demonstrators go to the hotel. They also go from hotel to hotel because the demonstrators try to disrupt their sleep at the hotel.
Mr. Armstrong: (03:42:31)
And there’s a difference between a protest and a riot and every night, at some point in time in Portland, it turns into a riot. Eventually, when you wake up the next morning and you know it’s going to happen again, then we need to figure out a way to stop it. And then just one last question, why would we have to negotiate a ceasefire with a peaceful protest?
Wiliam Barr: (03:42:50)
Correct. That’s right. What we would like to say and all we would like is what we see in the rest of the country, which is state and local law enforcement taking care of their own city and taking care of the streets around the courthouse.
Speaker 40: (03:43:05)
The gentleman’s time has expired. [inaudible 00:25:19].
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:43:07)
Mr. Correa is recognized.
Mr. Correa: (03:43:25)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Barr, welcome. Let’s talk a little bit about the census if we can. As you know, that’s the process where every 10 years we decide how many congressional seats each state gets, how much funding for schools, healthcare, other issues, each region gets. Let’s talk about the president’s memo, directing the commerce secretary to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count of the 2020 census count. Mr. Barr, president essentially saying something, trying to do that something that’s unconstitutional and illegal. 14th amendment, and I quote, “Representatives shall be apportioned among several states according to their respective numbers, counting whole numbers of person in each state.” And then federal law, as you know, to USC subsection 2A, and I quote, “The president shall transmit to the Congress a statement showing the whole number of persons in each state.” Did I read those correctly sir, more or less?
Wiliam Barr: (03:44:31)
Mr. Correa: (03:44:34)
Do you agree that the president’s memo essentially violates the constitution?
Wiliam Barr: (03:44:38)
Mr. Correa: (03:44:42)
Are undocumented people not whole individuals?
Wiliam Barr: (03:44:46)
Are not what?
Mr. Correa: (03:44:47)
Are undocumented individuals in this country not whole people?
Wiliam Barr: (03:44:54)
They are obviously people, but the legal issue there was the terminology of the constitution.
Mr. Correa: (03:45:05)
Well, if I may-
Wiliam Barr: (03:45:06)
It reflects the decision at the time of the constitution, that they count in half [crosstalk 03:45:12]-
Mr. Correa: (03:45:12)
If I may reclaim my time sir, you used to work for the Department of Justice back in 1989. There was a letter written to Senator Jeff Bingaman by the DOJ on point. If there’s a slide, there’s a letter, and I would ask me unanimous consent to admit that to the record-
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:45:30)
Mr. Correa: (03:45:31)
And I quote, “In the past, the Department of Justice has taken the position that Section Two of the 14th Amendment, that the original apportionment and census clause of Article One, Section Two of the constitution requires that inhabitants of states who are illegal aliens be included in the census count. And in our view, this issue today, we have found no basis for reversing that position.” Are you reversing that position now?
Wiliam Barr: (03:46:06)
This came up because Alabama claims you cannot count illegal aliens in the census under the constitution. The Department looked at it and advised that Congress can determine the meaning of inhabitant for this purpose, that it is not a self-defining term as they [crosstalk 03:46:24]-
Mr. Correa: (03:46:24)
I’ve only got two minutes sir.
Wiliam Barr: (03:46:25)
That they recognized-
Mr. Correa: (03:46:27)
Mr. Barr, if I may-
Wiliam Barr: (03:46:28)
Yeah, but this is a hearing. I thought I was the one that was supposed to be heard.
Mr. Correa: (03:46:31)
And I’m going to get there. The current dispute, you talked back when the Supreme court struck down the president’s attempt to put a citizenship question on the census. At that time, the president announced an executive order to collect citizenship information by other means. And at that time, you made reference to a current dispute over whether illegal aliens can be included in the apportionment purposes. Is that what you’re referring to now sir?
Wiliam Barr: (03:47:02)
I could have been referring to the Alabama case.
Mr. Correa: (03:47:06)
Okay. Is the DOJ-
Wiliam Barr: (03:47:06)
I can’t remember what I was referring to.
Mr. Correa: (03:47:06)
Studying this issue? Have you concluded-
Wiliam Barr: (03:47:08)
Mr. Correa: (03:47:09)
Can you provide this committee with discussions, any research, any concluding memos on that issue?
Wiliam Barr: (03:47:16)
I’ll look into it, but we have considered it. And I, as I said, our advice has been that Congress does have the power to define the term inhabitant to either include or exclude illegal aliens.
Mr. Correa: (03:47:31)
But we’re talking about the president’s executive orders here sir.
Wiliam Barr: (03:47:32)
Well, Congress has delegated that power to the Commerce Secretary. So as the law stands now, we think the Commerce Secretary as the delegate of congressional power can define that term.
Mr. Correa: (03:47:44)
Mr. Attorney General-
Wiliam Barr: (03:47:45)
That’s a reasonable argument to make.
Mr. Correa: (03:47:47)
Mr. Attorney General, in the last few seconds I have, president has to be within the law. Nobody is above the law in this country, including the president of United States. My concern is he goes around doing tweets, memos, dictums that are clearly unconstitutional. My district sir is a working class, hard working community, immigrants, the greatest generation. All we want is equity based on the census. We want to make sure we get our federal dollars like everybody else around the country. We want to make sure that our representation is equal individual in Orange County as it is in other parts of the country. All we ask for is respect sir. I ask you please tell the president stop tweeting things, stop writing memos that are clearly, clearly unconstitutional. Thank you very much and I yield.
Chairman Jerry Nadler: (03:48:45)
The gentleman yields back. Mr. [Tiffany 00:30:46].
Mr. Tiffany: (03:48:50)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Attorney General Barr, will you send a thank you to the law enforcement people that work for you for the work that they’re doing here across the United States of America?
Wiliam Barr: (03:49:03)
Mr. Tiffany: (03:49:03)
And I want to thank all the law enforcement across our country. We are an imperfect country, but law enforcement, they do a good job across our country and they should be recognized for that. I’m going to ask you a question about Mr. Bernell Trammell from Milwaukee here in just a minute. He was the man who was shot to death at the end of last week. He’s the African American man who was wearing a sign and he’s regularly known around Milwaukee for carrying a Trump for president sign.
Mr. Tiffany: (03:49:38)
But I want to share with you what happened in Madison, Wisconsin so we all understand that this is not a myth about Antifa. So when the riots hit Minneapolis and then extended around the country, they hit Madison, Wisconsin also. And I don’t know if you’ve ever visited Madison, Wisconsin-
Wiliam Barr: (03:49:56)
Mr. Tiffany: (03:49:56)
There’s an iconic street there called State Street. Starts at the capital and runs all the way down to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And that street, if you go there now, 75 businesses are boarded up as a result of a mayor and city council who would not protect those people. Those people went to the city council last week and they asked for some assistance. The city council who would not protect their business, they said, “No, we’re not going to provide you for assistance.” Shortly after State Street was destroyed, and by the way, it’s disappointing in some of the film that I’ve seen, that the police cruiser that went flaming down State Street was not included in that, but shortly after that, about a week afterwards, two monuments at the state capital that I used to walk by all the time were torn down. One was of Hans Christian Heg , who was the abolitionist Norwegian immigrant who died at Chickamauga defending-
Mr. Tiffany: (03:51:03)
Immigrant who died at Chickamauga, defending the Union and providing for the end of slavery, fighting for the end of slavery here in the United States. The other monument that was torn down, by the way, they took a tow truck and tore it down, was Lady Forward. Lady Forward is there because of women’s suffrage. Wisconsin was the first state to pass suffrage back in the early 1900’s, here in the United States of America. Those were torn down.
Mr. Tiffany: (03:51:32)
Just yesterday, a woman, a social worker who teaches at a local school, just outside Madison and Mount Horeb, she was charged with beating a State Senator, a Democrat State Senator. Her name is Samantha Hamer. Hopefully she will be given justice, but I want to emphasize to my colleagues on the left that if you’re you think you’re insulated from Antifa, which is supposedly a myth, you should really think about that. Because them and other radicals, they will not spare violence on anyone. Their anarchy is bent to destroy our country. I would ask you, if you want to contact a former colleague of mine, State Senator Tim Carpenter, a Democrat, he’ll tell you he was beat to a pulp on that night at midnight, when they were tearing down those statues. It is not a myth.
Mr. Tiffany: (03:52:33)
So Mr. Attorney General, I would ask Mr. Bernell Trammell I don’t know if our Attorney General, Attorney General Call in Wisconsin, or the Mayor of Milwaukee, are going to pursue what appears to perhaps be a political execution. Are you familiar with that situation in Milwaukee?
Wiliam Barr: (03:52:54)
You mean the shooting of that gentlemen?
Mr. Tiffany: (03:52:56)
Wiliam Barr: (03:52:57)
I’ve read about it.
Mr. Tiffany: (03:52:58)
If the Attorney General and other law enforcement in Wisconsin do not act, will the federal government study the situation and bring justice for Mr. Trammell and his family?
Wiliam Barr: (03:53:14)
Yes. We’ll certainly study that situation.
Mr. Tiffany: (03:53:22)
This is not a myth. You’re hearing it from all over the country. We’re hearing all the time about Portland and Seattle. This happened in Madison, Wisconsin, also, where a mayor, a far leftist mayor proudly carries that banner, sat on a street, actually not a street, a highway, with protestors and shut down traffic. And then state street, one of the most iconic streets in the state of Wisconsin and Madison was destroyed. I’m not so sure that those businesses are going to get their businesses back.
Mr. Tiffany: (03:53:58)
It is not myth folks. What’s happening is a real across our country and we need to stop the riots. These are not peaceful protests. These are riots that are happening and we need to call an end to it. I hope you, Mr. Attorney General, will work towards that end.
Wiliam Barr: (03:54:20)
Mr. Chairman: (03:54:23)
The Gentleman yields back. Ms. Scanlon
Ms. Scanlon: (03:54:27)
Attorney General Barr. I wanted to follow up on some questions from one of my colleagues. You testified earlier that you have at times voted by mail. Is that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:54:36)
I remember, I think, once voting by mail.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:54:39)
So if public records show you voted by mail in 2012 and 2019, you’d agree with that?
Wiliam Barr: (03:54:43)
I think, I can’t really remember the details. I think on one occasion I had to go to a station and vote before the election.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:54:51)
Okay, buy you did at least once vote by mail.
Wiliam Barr: (03:54:52)
I think on another one I voted by mail.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:54:53)
I’m reclaiming my time, sir. I raised this because in May of this year, 800 public health experts from across the nation sent a letter urging Congress to quote, “Prepare for a Presidential election by mail to allow Americans to vote from home and assure their health and safety.” You’re aware that health experts have emphasized that voting by mail is critical to protect public health in this upcoming election. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:55:17)
When was that?
Ms. Scanlon: (03:55:19)
In May of this year? If you’re not aware of it, I can provide this to your staff.
Wiliam Barr: (03:55:23)
I’d be interested in seeing.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:55:24)
Great. I have an extra copy for you. That public health advice is really important to citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, because we have a large population of seniors who are at higher risk for the Coronavirus. They shouldn’t have to choose between risking their lives and exercising their right to vote. But the problem we’re facing is that the President has repeatedly sought to cast doubt on the security of mail-in ballots, saying that the 2020 election could be rigged with quote, “Millions of mail-in ballots printed by foreign countries,” end quote. You sir have repeated this disinformation.
Wiliam Barr: (03:56:00)
Well it’s not disinformation.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:56:01)
[crosstalk 03:56:01] I don’t have a question for you yet. Here it comes though. Last month, you echoed the President’s conspiracy theory when you suggested in at least three interviews that quot, “Foreign countries could manufacture counterfeit ballots,” end quote, to influence the Presidential election. Correct? You did that in at least three interviews?
Wiliam Barr: (03:56:19)
Ms. Scanlon: (03:56:19)
Okay. But in fact, you have no evidence that foreign countries can successfully sway our elections with counterfeit ballots, do you?
Wiliam Barr: (03:56:28)
No I don’t, but I have common sense.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:56:30)
Okay. Well, and that’s what you responded when you were directly challenged on that. You said no, you didn’t have evidence, but it was obvious. According to state election officials, your alleged concerns here are not obvious, but in fact are outrageous. Every state in the union has absentee ballots. Two thirds of the states allow for vote by mail by for any reason. Five states, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Utah vote entirely by mail and have done so for decades. Even the US military uses mail-in ballots. Doesn’t it?
Wiliam Barr: (03:57:07)
Ms. Scanlon: (03:57:07)
Okay. Isn’t it true that after you suggested, without evidence, that foreign adversaries could sway our elections using counterfeit ballots, election experts and officials from around the country said that what you suggested was virtually impossible, preposterous, would never happen, and would be readily detected due to the multiple levels of security use with mail-in ballot systems?
Wiliam Barr: (03:57:31)
There are not multiple levels of security used.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:57:33)
Okay, well so you don’t recall-
Wiliam Barr: (03:57:36)
And I don’t agree that it’s a-
Ms. Scanlon: (03:57:37)
Okay. Reclaiming my time. Again, I’m happy to supply you with the statements that were provided from around the country.
Wiliam Barr: (03:57:43)
Before Donald Trump raised concerns about it, every major publication-
Ms. Scanlon: (03:57:48)
Reclaiming my time, sir. In fact, there is no evidence that foreign countries can make counterfeit ballots and create a real threat to our election security. Are you aware that in May, the President tweeted, and I quote, “Mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud and abuse. It will also lead to the end of our great Republican party,” end quote.
Wiliam Barr: (03:58:11)
I wasn’t aware of that tweet.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:58:12)
Well that tweet suggests, sir, that the President is spreading disinformation about mail-in ballots, because he’s afraid that if more people vote, he and his party will lose. The fact, Mr. Barr, is that our foreign adversaries cannot actually influence our elections by submitting massive counterfeit ballots. But the FBI and our intelligence services have repeatedly warned that those adversaries are actively trying to sew mistrust of our election systems. By repeating disinformation about mail-in voting, you and the President are helping them.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:58:48)
Just switching gears. You would agree that-
Wiliam Barr: (03:58:49)
Well I would like the opportunity to respond to that.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:58:49)
You would agree that prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party. Wouldn’t you?
Wiliam Barr: (03:58:59)
Who makes contributions?
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:00)
You said in 2017, that prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (03:59:08)
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:08)
And in fact, you and your wife have donated over $730,000 to Republican and conservative candidates, including donations of $58,000 to Republican Senators and Senate candidates in the four months preceding your confirmation. That’s correct isn’t it?
Wiliam Barr: (03:59:25)
Are you surprised I’m a Republican?
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:28)
Is that correct that you made those donations?
Wiliam Barr: (03:59:30)
Over a long period of time.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:32)
Including just before.
Wiliam Barr: (03:59:34)
That’s a cumulative of a long period of time, but basically-
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:36)
Mr. Chairman, I yield back-
Wiliam Barr: (03:59:37)
-I never hid the fact that I’m a Republican-
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:38)
And I would also-
Wiliam Barr: (03:59:39)
-I was talking about career prosecutors, have generally, historically, avoided making contributions was my view.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:47)
$730,000 is not-
Mr. Chairman: (03:59:49)
The time of the gentle lady is expired.
Ms. Scanlon: (03:59:51)
Mr. Chairman, I would seek unanimous consent to introduce the 800 … the public health expert letter signed by 800 individuals, the Attorney General’s repeated interviews in which you suggested that our elections could be undermined, the overwhelming reaction from election officials around the country, and the articles concerning his campaign donations. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman: (04:00:18)
Without objection, the articles will be entered into the record. Ms. Garcia?
Ms. Garcia: (04:00:24)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Barr, your Department released Paul Manafort, the President’s former campaign manager, early from prison in May, out of concern for the coronavirus. In March 26 and April 3rd, your department released guidelines, criteria, setting priorities by which people would be released early. By your own Department’s admission, Manafort did not meet that criteria. Since the start of this pandemic, we have repeatedly urged you to use your authority to protect vulnerable populations in prisons. Instead, you release the President’s former campaign manager. Sir, do you know how many federal inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 as of today?
Wiliam Barr: (04:01:12)
Yeah, I have that number.
Ms. Garcia: (04:01:15)
Quickly sir, because the clock ticks.
Wiliam Barr: (04:01:17)
Ms. Garcia: (04:01:20)
Well, we have a slide if they’ll bring it up that shows us that 10,000 inmates have tested positive and over 1000 staff have tested positive. Do you know how many have died?
Wiliam Barr: (04:01:31)
About a 100, almost a hundred.
Ms. Garcia: (04:01:35)
That’s right. It’s about 99 inmates have died, yet only 5% have been released under your guidelines.
Wiliam Barr: (04:01:43)
Ms. Garcia: (04:01:45)
You stated in May that you were taking quote, “Every measure we can to protect federal inmates.” The numbers, however, tell a different story, as do your actions. Despite relationship Manafort, your lawyers continue to argue against the release of prisoners. In April, vulnerable prisoners who suffer from serious at risk health conditions like chronic asthma, heart disease, and kidney disease filed a lawsuit for early release in Ohio.
Ms. Garcia: (04:02:15)
These prisoners were being quote, “Overcrowded in like cattle,” because prisons were not able to social distance them. 550 prisoners sought release, yet your own department processed only 7 applications and denied them all. Yet you had time to process Manafort’s application.
Wiliam Barr: (04:02:36)
I didn’t process Manafort’s application.
Ms. Garcia: (04:02:39)
Well, your department did, sir. But apparently not these vulnerable Americans living at grave risk. In fact, in a series of rulings in April and May, an Ohio District Court ordered that your Department act with urgency and to quote, “Move inmates out due to continued risk of harm to prisoners and to government staff.” Sir, your department challenged that court ordered, did it not?
Wiliam Barr: (04:03:09)
I’m not familiar with that.
Ms. Garcia: (04:03:10)
Well, well you all did. You did not help move these inmates out as ordered. In fact, you tried to block the District Court’s order. However, the Supreme Court on May 26 rejected your department’s request. Sir, nine prisoners had died and it’s been two months since the Supreme Court’s order. Do you even know today how many of those prisoners have been released or how many more have died?
Wiliam Barr: (04:03:36)
No, I don’t. We started out this with 170,000 prisoners. So we’ve lost-
Ms. Garcia: (04:03:42)
I just need you to try to explain to me and to America, how is it that the former campaign manager or the President of the United States, who did not meet the priority criteria got released, even though your own department admitted he didn’t meet the guidelines, but all these other folks were not? If it was deadly enough of avirus that you needed to protect the former campaign manager, why not all of these Americans who also are vulnerable and have at-risk conditions?
Ms. Garcia: (04:04:17)
Mr. Barr, the contrast says it all. It is not just in Ohio. In fact, in my own home state, in Texas, a federal prison, housing women with mental and medical health issues just confirmed last week that of the 1,357 prisoners over 500 tested positive for COVID. One prisoner recounted, “We’re like a whole bunch of hamsters in a cage, chasing our own tails.” Yet none have been released. Mr. Barr, have you seen those statistics? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:04:56)
Ms. Garcia: (04:04:56)
Well, if you can’t-
Wiliam Barr: (04:04:56)
I put out guidelines, general guidelines, to propel the release of-
Ms. Garcia: (04:05:01)
[crosstalk 04:05:01] not released anyone.
Wiliam Barr: (04:05:02)
I put out general guidelines-
Ms. Garcia: (04:05:03)
One of those prisoners is a mother, Andrea Circle Bear, who had to give birth on a ventilator in that facility, because your department prioritizes releasing Paul Manafort instead of vulnerable Americans. A few weeks after this photo, Ms. Bear died, along with two other women housed in this facility from COVID-19. Sir, you could be saving lives by reducing the prison population. Yet you have blatantly abandoned your duty to these women. You have shamelessly abandoned your oath of office to protect all Americans impartially, because you have prioritized giving special favors to the President’s friends. This is not equal justice under law. It’s not the law that you and I both learned in law school. It is two simple systems of justice, one for the President’s friends and one for everyone else. It is wrong-
Wiliam Barr: (04:05:57)
The director of the BOP-
Ms. Garcia: (04:05:57)
It is flat wrong.
Wiliam Barr: (04:05:57)
Yeah. The Director-
Ms. Garcia: (04:05:58)
Thank you and I yield back.
Wiliam Barr: (04:05:59)
The Director of the BOP testified under oath. No one from Justice Department was involved.
Mr. Chairman: (04:06:05)
The Gentle lady yields back.
Speaker 41: (04:06:06)
But the Gentleman has not been given an opportunity to respond.
Mr. Chairman: (04:06:11)
Mr. Neguse is recognized.
Mr. Neguse: (04:06:15)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Mr. Attorney General. I want to go through a couple of your prior statements. On April 19, excuse me, April 18th of 2019, you stated quote, “That the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation.” You’re aware of that?
Wiliam Barr: (04:06:30)
Mr. Neguse: (04:06:32)
Today, yes or no, Mr. Barr, under the penalty of perjury, do you testify that that statement was true at the time you made it?
Wiliam Barr: (04:06:39)
I thought it to be true at the time I made it. Why isn’t it true?
Mr. Neguse: (04:06:44)
On June 9th … I’ll get to that Mr. Barr.
Wiliam Barr: (04:06:45)
I mean, does it have to-
Mr. Neguse: (04:06:46)
Mr. Barr, I will get to that. Reclaiming my time. You answered the question. I have another question for you. On June 19th, 2020-
Wiliam Barr: (04:06:53)
Actually, I need to answer that question.
Mr. Neguse: (04:06:54)
Mr. Attorney General, you did answer the question.
Wiliam Barr: (04:06:56)
No, you said under penalty of perjury. I’m going to answer the damn question. Okay?
Mr. Neguse: (04:06:59)
You said the answer was, “Yes,” is what you said. Are you saying no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:02)
Well, I think what I was referring to, and I’d have to see the context of it, was the supplying of documents.
Mr. Neguse: (04:07:09)
No, Mr. Attorney General, the statement was not limited to the supply of documents. You stated at a press-
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:13)
I think that’s what I was-
Mr. Neguse: (04:07:16)
Mr. Attorney General, I’m reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time.
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:17)
I think that’s what I was talking about.
Mr. Neguse: (04:07:18)
You stated at a press conference on April 19th of 2019, that the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation. You knew when you made that statement that the President had not agreed to be interviewed by the special counsel.
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:29)
I think I subsequently said that I was referring to-
Mr. Neguse: (04:07:29)
Now on June 18th of this year, Mr. Attorney General [crosstalk 04:07:34] on the June 18,
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:34)
Production of documents.
Mr. Neguse: (04:07:35)
Mr. Attorney General, on June 18th of this year, the Department of Justice issued a statement saying that Mr. Berman, a Former US Attorney for the Southern district of New York had quote, “Stepped down.” You’re aware of that statement being leased by the Department. Correct?
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:49)
Mr. Neguse: (04:07:50)
And do you testify today that statement was true at the time the Department issued it?
Wiliam Barr: (04:07:58)
He may not have known it, but he was stepping down.
Mr. Neguse: (04:08:00)
He may not have known that he was stepping down? That’s your testimony today?
Wiliam Barr: (04:08:04)
He was being removed.
Mr. Neguse: (04:08:05)
Mr. Attorney General, this statement did not say that he was being removed. It did not say that he was being fired. It said that he was stepping down. Apparently your testimony today is that that was in fact accurate, when Mr. Berman has testified under oath, to this committee, that it in fact was not. Now, I want to talk about the separate process-
Wiliam Barr: (04:08:22)
No, he was removed. He was removed. I wanted an opportunity to offer him another job and talk to him the next day.
Mr. Neguse: (04:08:29)
Mr. Attorney General, I understand your rationalization for your answer-
Wiliam Barr: (04:08:29)
It’s not a rationalization.
Mr. Neguse: (04:08:31)
But the American people will let your answer speak for itself. Now Mr. Attorney General, earlier this year, President Trump stated that he had planned to make what he described as Vice President’s, quote, “Ukraine dealings an issue on the campaign trail.” Earlier this year, on February 10th, you stated that you had set up a quote, “Intake process,” for submission of information, excuse me, “Intake process,” end quote, for submission of information relating to the Ukraine, to the Justice Department, and that included quote, these are your words, “Anything Mr. Giuliani might provide.” You recall making those comments?
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:05)
Something along those lines.
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:07)
You can see there isn’t anything standard about the Attorney General creating a special process for information related to advancing-
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:14)
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:15)
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:16)
I also made it clear that that is a vetting process that’s available to anybody.
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:20)
Is that right? Which US Attorney have you assigned to receive information from Vice President Biden’s personal lawyers regarding President Trump?
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:28)
Well, maybe if they had vetted the dossier-
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:32)
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:32)
Maybe if they vetted the dossier, we wouldn’t have the whole Russiagate problem.
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:35)
There is no US Attorney … Mr. Attorney General there’s no US Attorney, of course, that you’ve appointed to do that because you have done with respect to this process is unprecedented.
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:42)
It was cautionary so that we do not pollute the criminal investigative process with Ukrainian disinformation.
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:49)
I will give you an opportunity to explain this intake process. My understanding is that you have directed-
Wiliam Barr: (04:09:53)
You are going to give me an opportunity?
Mr. Neguse: (04:09:55)
I plan, I intend to right now. The Eastern district of New York, the US Attorney responsible for that district, my understanding is that you have asked that US Attorney to be responsible for the intake process. Is that right?
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:05)
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:06)
That’s wrong? The US Attorney-
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:08)
The US Attorney in the Eastern district was given oversight of all Ukrainian-related cases, any new cases involving Ukraine.
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:16)
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:16)
We face a problem with Ukraine, which is unreliable information coming in it.
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:20)
I appreciate you noting-
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:21)
There’s a lot of corruption there. It’s a hall of mirrors.
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:23)
Mr. Attorney General, I appreciate [crosstalk 04:10:24]
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:24)
I wanted to make sure that before we got into criminal proceedings, and this was to everyone’s benefit, particularly Vice President Biden-
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:32)
Mr. Attorney General-
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:33)
That the information was scrubbed-
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:34)
I appreciate you noting that-
Wiliam Barr: (04:10:35)
In conjunction with the intelligence community-
Mr. Neguse: (04:10:37)
And that is consistent with the memo that you issued, which said, “Any and all new matters relating to Ukraine shall be directed exclusively to the Eastern district of New York for investigation and appropriate handling,” just as you’ve described right now. Now, of course, the US Attorney responsible in the Eastern District of New York was recently changed. My understanding is a few weeks ago, you announced that Seth DuCharme would be taking over to replace Rich Donahue. Mr. DuCharme, prior-
Wiliam Barr: (04:11:01)
Pittsburgh is in charge of the vetting.
Mr. Neguse: (04:11:03)
Concerning [crosstalk 00:20:02], Mr. Attorney General, prior to taking this position, Mr. DuCharme worked at Maine Department of Justice, is that correct?
Wiliam Barr: (04:11:09)
Yes. He was a counselor to me. Then he was the Principal Assistant Deputy Attorney General.
Mr. Neguse: (04:11:18)
That’s right. Rather than having the acting US Attorney, the Deputy US Attorney, rather, in that district serve-
Wiliam Barr: (04:11:23)
They wanted to swap jobs.
Mr. Neguse: (04:11:24)
You now have appointed your prior counsel to oversee that very same process. With that, I yield back my time, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Garcia: (04:11:31)
Mr. Chairman: (04:11:32)
The gentleman yields back. Ms. McBath.
Ms. Garcia: (04:11:35)
Mr. Chairman, before we go to Ms. McBath, could I enter a couple of documents, ask for unanimous consent to enter four documents and the two memos ever referred to, setting the guidelines for who gets released, a Washington Post article about Paul Manafort’s release, and a testimony from the Council of the Prison, Logos 33, for the record.
Mr. Chairman: (04:11:59)
Without objection, Ms. McBath is now recognized.
Ms. McBath: (04:12:01)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to start by thanking you, Attorney General Barr, for joining us today and for the work that the committed public servants in your department are doing to keep our country safe. But sir, just a few months ago in May, you said that you would be taking the President’s position in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act. When asked if you will still take that position, even if it means, and I quote, “Stripping millions of Americans of their healthcare in the middle of a pandemic,” you stated that the case would not be argued until October, and that the President expects to fix and replace Obamacare with a better system.
Ms. McBath: (04:12:46)
Attorney General Barr, let’s be very, very clear. As public health officials and data have shown us, this pandemic is simply not going away. Just last week, it was reported that one hospital was planning to send Coronavirus patients home to die, due to limited resources to treat them. We’re still facing an extremely critical and extremely serious situation.
Ms. McBath: (04:13:14)
Even if you expect the President to figure out a new plan by October, the President has not yet put in place another system, nor is there any guarantee that he will do so by October, as you quote, ” Expect.” When you say you expect the President to figure out a new plan, you are taking a risk with millions of Americans’ lives. You are risking the lives of millions, people who will not be covered for preexisting conditions if the Supreme Court agrees with your position.
Ms. McBath: (04:13:53)
Civil servants in your own department have disagreed with you on this matter. In fact, I’m introducing a statement by one of the lead attorneys on the ACA case, Joel McElvain, who resigned in protest when your department refuse to defend the law as it is required. In my district, the sixth district of Georgia, congressional district, there are over 300,000 people that have preexisting conditions. I, sir, am one of them, a two-time breast cancer survivor. Our state is continuing to battle hard against a resurgence and COVID-19 cases. I’m asking you, sir, not to gamble with American lives, not to gamble with my life. I’d like you to confirm that if the President has no other plan in place by October, you will reverse course and drop your position that I quote you directly, “The entire ACA must fall.”
Wiliam Barr: (04:15:09)
I have two children who are cancer survivors so I feel very strongly about this issue as a matter of policy. I believe that the President’s made clear that he will ensure that there will-
Ms. McBath: (04:15:22)
Sir, please answer my question. Will you stop playing politics with Americans’ healthcare in the middle of a pandemic?
Wiliam Barr: (04:15:30)
I’m not playing politics. I’m the lawyer. I’m not in charge of healthcare policy.
Ms. McBath: (04:15:33)
Will you reverse your course and make sure that millions of Americans, like me, that depend on healthcare and treatment to stay alive? Will you reverse your course to make sure that we have the ability to be able to live in this country freely, with quality healthcare?
Wiliam Barr: (04:15:53)
People will have the healthcare protection. That will be accomplished either if I lose, if the government, wait-
Ms. McBath: (04:16:00)
Okay. Sir, I take this as a no. I take this as a no.
Wiliam Barr: (04:16:00)
If the government loses the case, if the Supreme Court strikes it down-
Ms. McBath: (04:16:03)
I take this as a no. Sir, I want to briefly go on.
Wiliam Barr: (04:16:05)
No, based on history, there will be-
Ms. McBath: (04:16:07)
Sir, I’d like to go on. I’d like to briefly mention my concerns relating to gun violence, because that’s actually how I got to Washington.
Wiliam Barr: (04:16:14)
I’m sorry. Relating to what?
Ms. McBath: (04:16:14)
I want to briefly go on to another concern that I have relating to gun violence. That’s actually how I got here. During the coronavirus outbreak, the nation has seen a dramatic increase in firearm sales and skyrocketing numbers of sales blocked by failed background checks. In March alone, the NICS background check system blocked 23,000 attempted sales. In other words, in one month, there were 23,000 attempts to get a firearm by a person who was not allowed to possess one under our current law. It is a federal crime for anyone to lie in an attempt to get a firearm, which is what I suspect most people try to do. I’d like to know from you, how many of these March blocked sales were investigated?
Wiliam Barr: (04:17:05)
All right. I sent out a directive that we should start prosecuting, to the extent we can, these lie-and-try cases. Previously, we hadn’t really been pursuing them.
Ms. McBath: (04:17:15)
Okay. I take that as a no, I just have one more thing to say-
Wiliam Barr: (04:17:16)
No. Well, I’m saying we are pursuing those cases.
Ms. McBath: (04:17:20)
My time is up. I take that as a no. Unfortunately, this fits a larger pattern of your administration neglecting the health and safety of Americans, from healthcare to gun violence, this administration is failing to keep my constituents and people all over the country healthy and safe. I demand better. Americans demand better. I want you to provide the answers that you are either unwilling to provide us or don’t have answers to to this committee, because these are relevant question and we need to have answers from you. I yield back the balance of my time.
Speaker 42: (04:17:49)
Mr. Chairman: (04:17:50)
The gentle lady-
Speaker 42: (04:17:51)
Mr. Chairman, I got a question.
Mr. Chairman: (04:17:54)
What purpose does the gentleman see?
Speaker 42: (04:17:55)
Four months, you’ve tried to get the Attorney General to come. He’s here. Why don’t you let him speak? Why don’t you let him answer the questions?
Mr. Chairman: (04:18:02)
Thank you. The Gentleman is not-
Speaker 42: (04:18:03)
Time after time, if you want the Attorney General to come, at least let him answer the questions and the accusations made against him.
Mr. Chairman: (04:18:09)
The gentleman’s rudeness is not recognized.
Speaker 42: (04:18:12)
Speaker 43: (04:18:12)
The rudeness is on the other side.
Mr. Chairman: (04:18:15)
Speaker 42: (04:18:16)
Time after time, you refuse to let the Attorney General of the United States answer the questions posed to him.
Mr. Chairman: (04:18:20)
Mr. Stanton is recognized.
Speaker 42: (04:18:21)
Well, maybe the last few witnesses will actually let the Attorney General speak.
Mr. Stanton : (04:18:24)
Mr. Attorney General?
Mr. Chairman: (04:18:26)
Mr. Stanton is recognized.
Mr. Stanton : (04:18:27)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, Mr. Attorney General. Thank you very much for being here. Since the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, those who have sought to suppress the minority vote, concealed their intentions. The suppressors suggest that they were really out to advance some altruistic goals, such as election security. But history has proven that those allegations and those rationalizations were lies designed only to fend off legal challenges. It was a dirty little secret. Those who aim to suppress the minority vote, never dare to say it out loud.
Mr. Stanton : (04:19:04)
But not Donald Trump. He didn’t even try to keep it a secret. He just blurted it out. He said he will lose the 2020 election if more Americans are able to vote. That’s one reason why this President needed a fixer at the Department of Justice, from letting Russia off the hook to rewarding Roger Stone, Mr. Barr, you’ve proven not only very willing, but I have to admit very able.
Mr. Stanton : (04:19:37)
More than a year ago, this committee heard testimony about a resurgence of discriminatory voting practices, certain States making it more difficult to vote. These practices include unnecessarily strict photo ID requirements and the abuse of signature match requirements to reject absentee ballots. Despite that, your department has a lax approach to enforcing Voting Rights Act. During your tenure, you filed just one case to do so. But the DOJ has done nothing to block the suppression practices we heard about over a year ago before this committee.
Mr. Stanton : (04:20:12)
To your credit, Mr. Barr, you warned us. You told the New York Times Magazine earlier this spring that the DOJ’s role in protecting the right to vote would be limited this year and that it would be up to the States to police themselves. Isn’t that right? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:20:29)
I don’t recall saying that. But if you say it’s in the article.
Mr. Stanton : (04:20:32)
It’s in the New York Times article from just last month. In that same news story, you said it would be up to the voters to referee the election. Is that right, yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:20:42)
I don’t remember the context of that, frankly. Was I talking about foreign influence?
Mr. Stanton : (04:20:47)
No, sir. I’ll submit it for the record. You’ll have a chance to review it and submit additional testimony if you desire to. Someday, when we have more time, you’ll have to explain to me how a person whose right to vote is denied by a discriminatory practice can referee an election.
Wiliam Barr: (04:21:03)
That doesn’t sound like something I-
Mr. Stanton : (04:21:03)
But I digress. It troubles me that you have not been consistent in your approach. As the Attorney General, you have stood down on discrimination and allowed states to make it harder to vote. But you have used the DOJ as a sword when attempts have been made to make it easier to vote. Voting right advocates in South Carolina and Alabama sought to prevent Americans from choosing between voting and risking their health, by making it easier and safer to complete an absentee ballot during the pandemic. But your DOJ intervened to try to block that accommodation. Mr. Barr, did you discuss either of those cases with the President, yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:21:45)
Mr. Stanton : (04:21:47)
The American people-
Wiliam Barr: (04:21:49)
I don’t even know … what two cases are you talking about?
Mr. Stanton : (04:21:53)
Cases in which-
Wiliam Barr: (04:21:54)
Tell me the name of the cases?
Mr. Stanton : (04:21:56)
I don’t know the name of the cases.
Wiliam Barr: (04:21:57)
Where were they?
Mr. Stanton : (04:21:58)
Catonsville, South Carolina and Alabama. You’ll have a chance to comment after your testimony is done here today. The American people have good reason to believe that you will continue to use your authority to carry out the president’s wishes to suppress the vote. There are fears that you and the President are laying the foundation to interfere with the upcoming election, specifically with vote by mail, as my colleagues have previously noted, because both of you have advanced false conspiracy theories about mail-in voting. I hope we can put some of those fears to rest here today.
Mr. Stanton : (04:22:32)
Mr. Barr, can you commit to the American people that you will not interfere with the decisions of state and local authorities to use vote by mail and absentee ballots in the 2020 elections? That’s a yes or no question.
Wiliam Barr: (04:22:45)
Well, I think the federal government has very limited ability to get involved in this. But I’m not going to give up whatever ability we have to ensure the integrity of the election. I’ve never … my observation was simply that it would inject some uncertainty into the election process and it opens up the potential of fraud-
Mr. Stanton : (04:23:04)
Mr. Barr, I got to protect my time and we’re short here [crosstalk 04:23:04] –
Wiliam Barr: (04:23:04)
And I think the integrity of our elections is really important.
Mr. Stanton : (04:23:06)
Mr. Barr, the President has suggested that only votes counted on election day should be what matters, meaning that if a voter casts a legal ballot on or before election day, but that ballot is not counted on election day, it shouldn’t count at all. I want to ask you again about your commitment to ensuring that every vote is counted. If, in this upcoming November election, the President asks you to intervene and try to stop states from counting legal ballots after election day, will you do the right thing and refuse? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:23:36)
I will follow the law.
Mr. Stanton : (04:23:38)
You won’t say no, sir?
Wiliam Barr: (04:23:39)
I will follow the law.
Mr. Stanton : (04:23:40)
It’s very disappointing [crosstalk 04:23:42] the American people-
Wiliam Barr: (04:23:41)
Well, if a state has a law that says, “It has to be cast on election day,” that’s the law. That will be enforced.
Mr. Stanton : (04:23:49)
Will you commit to making sure the Department of Justice does not get involved in a contested election? Yes or no.
Wiliam Barr: (04:23:56)
I will follow the law.
Mr. Stanton : (04:23:58)
It’s so disappointing that we can’t get a clear answer on that. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to ask unanimous consent to submit, for the record, the following-
Speaker 44: (04:24:03)
… answer on that. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to ask you now to ask consent to submit for the record the following items, an item from The Guardian Magazine, An Embarrassment: Trump’s Justice Department Goes Quiet On Voting Rights. Second, New York Times Magazine, William Barr: State Of Emergency. Finally, from The Washington Post, Trump’s Assault On The Election Integrity Forces Question: What Would Happen If He Refused To Accept The Loss?
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:21)
Without objection, the material will be a basis-
Jim Jordon: (04:24:23)
Mr. Chairman, just for the record-
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:25)
Jim Jordon: (04:24:26)
A member of Judiciary Committee following the law-
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:28)
Jim Jordon: (04:24:30)
Following the law should be something a member of the Judiciary Committee knows. [crosstalk 00:04:24:33], is pretty darn clear.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:34)
The gentlemen will suspend, without objection, the material will be entered into the record. Ms. Dean is recognized.
Wiliam Barr: (04:24:41)
Sorry, Mr. Chairman, could we take a five minute break?
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:44)
Ms. Dean is recognized.
Wiliam Barr: (04:24:45)
Can we take a five minute break, Mr. Chairman?
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:47)
Jim Jordon: (04:24:47)
That’s a common courtesy, Mr. Chairman of every witness.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:50)
Ms. Dean is recognized.
Wiliam Barr: (04:24:51)
I waited an hour for you this morning. I haven’t had lunch. I’d like to take a five minute break.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:24:57)
Mr. Attorney General, we are almost finished. We’re going to be finished in a few minutes. We can certainly take a break.
Wiliam Barr: (04:25:07)
You’re a real class act, a real class act.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:25:11)
After this, if you still want one, we’ll have a break.
Jim Jordon: (04:25:14)
No, he wants to break now-
Jerrold Nadler: (04:25:15)
You want it now?
Jim Jordon: (04:25:15)
And you just mentioned rudeness. I think we’re seeing it on display. Let’s let the Attorney General have a break.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:25:21)
The committee will stand in recess now.
Jim Jordon: (04:25:23)
Wiliam Barr: (04:25:23)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madeline Dean: (04:30:00)
… Starting June 1st in Lafayette Square. Whereas you know peaceful protesters had gathered over days and hours to discuss civil rights, to discuss the heinous murder of George Floyd and to call for equality and justice. When asked about the use of force displayed in the video against the protesters at Lafayette Square, you stated that your attitude was quote, get it done. Let’s look at what you got done. If you’ll take a look at the timeline we have compiled, we see that you were spotted in Lafayette Square at 6:10 PM that Monday evening. The President was scheduled to speak in the Rose Garden at 6:15, the Park police began to disperse protestors at roughly 6:33. President Trump started his speech at 6:43 and finished at 6:50. So by 7:01, when the President was ready to walk across the street to take a photo in front of St. John’s Church, the Square was cleared and ready for him to go. Am I correct?
Wiliam Barr: (04:31:28)
Madeline Dean: (04:31:30)
The timing is clear. Multiple local officials also confirmed the point of clearing the Square. One safety official said it was as if the Park police’s plan to move the perimeter had been quote, hurried up, when the President needed to walk to church. And just today, Congress heard testimony from Adam DiMarco, a National Guard officer deployed at Lafayette Square, confirming that he expected the Square to be cleared after the curfew, after 7:00 PM.
Wiliam Barr: (04:31:58)
I’m sorry, who is that?
Madeline Dean: (04:31:59)
Adam DiMarco, National Guard. I didn’t have a question for you, sir. In the afternoon, you told us that you learned of the President’s interest in crossing the Square to go to the church. Is it your opinion Mr. Barr, that clearing protesters from Lafayette Square, which local officials were told to hurry up, moments before the President’s photo op with a borrowed Bible in front of a church was coincidence. Is this timing coincidence?
Wiliam Barr: (04:32:30)
I believe it is, yes. It’s not coinci- post hoc, ergo propter hoc, is that what you’re saying?
Madeline Dean: (04:32:36)
I’m familiar with the Latin. In a related matter, when asked about the use of pepper bombs, fire-
Wiliam Barr: (04:32:42)
It wasn’t a coincidence in this set, if you would permit me, Congresswoman, okay. I use the analogy of MacArthur at Leyte Gulf.
Madeline Dean: (04:32:50)
We heard that, okay, thank you. [crosstalk 04:32:52] Mr. Attorney General, he said coincidence, fine. We’ll assume that was all coincidence [crosstalk 00:08: 59].
Wiliam Barr: (04:33:00)
I’ve already explained that it had been planned all day.
Madeline Dean: (04:33:03)
Mr. Attorney General, the time is mine. We’ve waited a long time for you to come here. The time is mine.
Wiliam Barr: (04:33:09)
You’ve waited to talk to me like this, you didn’t need to wait so long.
Madeline Dean: (04:33:11)
When asked about the use of pepper bombs fired at Americans in Lafayette Square, you said quote, No, there were no chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical, quote.
Wiliam Barr: (04:33:23)
Well, everything is chemical. I was referring to a dichotomy, [crosstalk 04:33:27] a dichotomy in these kinds of things between chemical compounds and naturally occurring substances.
Madeline Dean: (04:33:33)
Mr. Attorney General, reclaiming my time. There are rules by which we operate here, I would ask you to respect them. Take a look at the screen. I’ve placed on this screen for reference, as you are aware how your department describes PepperBalls used on Americans in Lafayette Square. A 2009 Justice report noted that the PepperBall quote, system’s accuracy and accompanying blunt trauma impact made it an ideal chemical dispensing system. So while you in a quote said, it’s not chemical, you today confirm it is chemical. And you’re aware of your department’s policy, are you not?
Wiliam Barr: (04:34:10)
Madeline Dean: (04:34:12)
The one I’ve just provided to you.
Wiliam Barr: (04:34:15)
What does it say, what’s the policy?
Madeline Dean: (04:34:17)
Well, I showed it to you. Finally, whether or not you authorized it at the time, perhaps you weren’t listening-
Wiliam Barr: (04:34:24)
I didn’t see the policy. What was the policy in there?
Madeline Dean: (04:34:28)
Clearly you weren’t listening, fine. Whether or not you authorized the use of PepperBalls-
Wiliam Barr: (04:34:34)
Madeline Dean: (04:34:36)
I did not ask you a question yet, sir. I ask you to please refrain from interrupting me. We watched horrifying videos played across the news and social media showing that these chemical irritants were used on protestors. So yes or no, and this is a yes or no, sir. Have you begun an investigation of the use of excessive force in Lafayette Square?
Wiliam Barr: (04:34:58)
Well, I think the I.G. is looking at everything related to the anti-rioting oper-
Madeline Dean: (04:35:04)
So the answer is yes, you are investigating [crosstalk 04:35:06].
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:05)
The I.G. is investigating it, yeah.
Madeline Dean: (04:35:08)
I will hope that he does not get fired. Tragically, what happened in Lafayette Square is no longer an isolated incident. The use of chemical irritants has been used in more than 90 cities. My colleague showed you the video of the Navy vet being pepper-sprayed and beaten, his phone broken. Whether or not you thought this was appropriate at the time, have you now called for law enforcement to stop using these chemical irritants on protesters? Yes or no?
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:34)
Madeline Dean: (04:35:35)
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:35)
Madeline Dean: (04:35:36)
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:37)
I think it’s a very important non-lethal option.
Madeline Dean: (04:35:41)
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:42)
No, for rioters.
Madeline Dean: (04:35:44)
Sir, that was my question, for protesters.
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:45)
No, for rioters.
Madeline Dean: (04:35:46)
Yes. Sir, America was founded on the principles of free speech.
Wiliam Barr: (04:35:51)
When people resist law enforcement, they’re not peaceful.
Madeline Dean: (04:35:53)
Excuse me, reclaiming my time. I’m surprised at your lack of respect for a member of Congress.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:36:01)
The time of the gentlelady has expired. Ms. Murcarsel-Powell.
Miss Jayapal: (04:36:03)
Mr. Barr, good afternoon. I’m glad that you mentioned Latin America a little bit earlier. You know, many of my constituents that I represent in Florida fled to America from countries that use deadly force to stifle speech. And they used armed forces to suppress dissenting voices. They cherish our Constitution as other Americans have done for generations. Because of the incredible freedoms and rights that being an American citizen gives to all of us. It’s extremely personal to me because you probably know that my roots are in Ecuador, but I live by the American Constitution. And it’s true that those who aren’t fortunate enough to always have these rights and freedoms sometimes cherish them even more than those who have always had them. When they see photos from Portland, they don’t see the American ideal or the America that they know. They actually see and are reminded what they left behind. You would agree with me on that? Are you listening Mr. Barr?
Wiliam Barr: (04:37:07)
Well, I wasn’t sure if the subject … who was the subject of that last sentence?
Miss Jayapal: (04:37:14)
Look at these videos for one second. We have seen violence in Venezuela at the hands of Maduro. Firing tear gas at protesters and using brutal tactics to crush demonstrations, that’s what we see from dictators on both the left and the right. But it’s hard to distinguish these photos from those events and from the videos that we’ve seen by U.S. Federal Police in Portland tear gassing, and breaking the bones of a peacefully protesting U.S. Navy veteran, very similar. So Mr. Barr, how do you restore the confidence of my constituents in the values of this country, when every night on television they’re seeing these images of violence used against the peaceful protesters? We all denounce violence. How do you restore the trust in our democracy?
Wiliam Barr: (04:38:14)
I think that the force is being deployed against rioters or in situations where protestors are not following police directions.
Miss Jayapal: (04:38:27)
Most of the protests have been peaceful, Mr. Barr, you know that, you know that. You’re just using language for political purposes just like my colleagues across the aisle-
Wiliam Barr: (04:38:37)
No, I don’t know what it means.
Miss Jayapal: (04:38:38)
Let me just go now to one of the most important topics facing our nation right now, healthcare. In my district, we have close to 100,000 people that get their health insurance through the ACA. 19,000 of them are living with serious preexisting conditions. And yet, you are working to strip their healthcare at the worst possible moment. When the coronavirus is killing thousands of people in my state-
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:03)
They will not be stripped of their healthcare.
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:03)
In Miami Dade County and in Monroe counties, counties that I represent, do you know how many people have died from COVID-19?
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:11)
No, I don’t.
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:12)
1,410 people. You were at the White House on March 23rd when President Trump said Governor DeSantis was doing an incredible job. Do you agree that Governor DeSantis is doing an incredible job?
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:26)
Well, I have no reason not to believe that.
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:29)
Well, Florida now has more cases than in China.
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:33)
Well, did Cuomo do an incredible job in New York?
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:35)
And in fact we have in Florida, unfortunately, and I’m not proud to say this, in Florida, we have more cases than most countries combined around the world. So no, he is not doing an incredible job. You pushed states to open too soon. You threatened states with lawsuits [crosstalk 00:15:51].
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:51)
I didn’t ask states to open.
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:52)
You threatened with lawsuits for those states-
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:54)
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:54)
… that wanted to have stay-at-home orders.
Wiliam Barr: (04:39:56)
For things like church.
Miss Jayapal: (04:39:56)
Mr. Barr, we have the facts. I’m going by the facts. And now the country, the United States of America has more than four point three million COVID cases alone. You, you, Mr. Barr and President Trump, working together are letting my constituents down. And it’s something that you are going to have to live with. What am I supposed to say to my constituents when they ask me if the government has done everything in its power to protect their loved ones from dying? You tell me Mr. Barr, what am I supposed to tell them?
Wiliam Barr: (04:40:31)
I would tell them that managing this kind of thing requires a lot of difficult choices and weighing different consequences.
Miss Jayapal: (04:40:40)
I’m not going to lie to my constituents. [crosstalk 04:40:42] I am going to tell them that President Donald Trump and the Attorney General working together, are not following health guidelines. They’re letting Americans die needlessly because of political reasons. [crosstalk 04:40:58] That is what I will tell them Mr. Barr. Thank you. And one last question if I can-
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:03)
In our system-
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:04)
Under oath, under oath, do you commit to not releasing any report by Mr. Durham before the November election?
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:12)
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:13)
You don’t commit to that.
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:14)
No. I will be very careful-
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:14)
So you won’t go by Department of Justice policy-
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:17)
I know what Justice Department policy is.
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:18)
That you won’t interfere in any political investigations before the November election?
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:24)
We’re not going to interfere. In fact, I’ve made it clear. I’m not going to tolerate-
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:28)
But under oath, you’re saying that you do not commit to not releasing a report by Durham.
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:32)
I’m not going to … any report will be in my judgment, not one that is covered by the policy and would disrupt the election. I’ve already made it clear that neither-
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:45)
You would go against your own Department of Justice policy, Mr. Barr?
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:48)
Why don’t you tell me what that policy is?
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:50)
Well, I have it right here. Do you want me to repeat it for you?
Wiliam Barr: (04:41:53)
No, I know what the policy is.
Miss Jayapal: (04:41:55)
Yeah. [crosstalk 04:41:56] Thank you, I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Speaker 45: (04:42:00)
Mr. Chairman, point of order, point of order, Mr. Chairman.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:42:03)
The gentlelady yields back. What purpose does the gentlemen seek to-
Speaker 45: (04:42:06)
Is it permissible for a member of this committee to accuse the sitting Attorney General of the United States of murder? Because that’s what we just heard. Those words need to be struck from this record, this is outrageous.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:42:16)
The members control the time-
Speaker 45: (04:42:18)
To say whatever they want? What about rules of decorum, Mr. Chairman?
Jim Jordon: (04:42:22)
[crosstalk 04:42:22] Mr. Chairman, I actually have a clarification.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:42:24)
Ms. Escobar is recognized.
Veronica Escobar: (04:42:28)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Jim Jordon: (04:42:29)
[crosstalk 04:42:29] Was the video played by the previous member, was that a video of things that happened in the United States or in Venezuela? I just want a clarification, what was the video?
Jerrold Nadler: (04:42:37)
The gentlemen is not stating a recognizable point of order. Ms. Escobar is recognized.
Veronica Escobar: (04:42:41)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Barr, the administration against the constitutional text, historical precedent and DOJ’s own memo is trying to exclude undocumented persons from the census, an action that harms American lives and immigrant communities and American communities. Here’s an example, many American children are living with an undocumented parent or relative. This change in the census means that those children, American children, would receive less money for programs like the national school lunch program, Headstart or the State Children’s Health Insurance program. A simple yes or no, please, Mr. Barr, are you comfortable with the decision that would punish American children and immigrant communities in this way?
Wiliam Barr: (04:43:32)
I don’t make the policy, I provide legal advice on legal issues. So as both to this issue and the issue of the ACA [crosstalk 04:43:40] the question presented to the department is the law.
Veronica Escobar: (04:43:43)
Reclaiming my time, sir. Mr. Barr, a simple yes or no. Does the Constitution say that only citizens should be counted in the census?
Wiliam Barr: (04:43:51)
Veronica Escobar: (04:43:52)
Correct, it does not. In fact, the framers of the 14th Amendment explicitly confronted this question and it provides that persons in each state be counted. I’ll move on.
Wiliam Barr: (04:44:02)
Well, they wouldn’t have confronted it because they’re were no illegal aliens at the time.
Veronica Escobar: (04:44:06)
[crosstalk 04:44:06] Among many other things, I’m alarmed by your department’s refusal to comply with and implement key Supreme Court rulings. On June 18th of this year, the Supreme Court in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts, ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious and required the administration to process new DACA applications. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, zero DACA applications have been processed. That’s not the only Supreme Court decision your administration has ignored. In 2017, your department issued a memo stating that transgender workers were not protected by civil rights laws. The Supreme Court struck that down too in both.
Wiliam Barr: (04:44:51)
I’m sorry, what we had said was the ’64 Act did not extend to-
Veronica Escobar: (04:44:55)
Reclaiming my time, sir. In both the DACA and transgender decisions your department has yet to comply, yes or no, will the department implement the Supreme Court’s DACA and transgender rulings?
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:11)
Yes, I think we are.
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:13)
The DACA ruling?
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:14)
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:15)
You are now processing DACA applications?
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:18)
I think what we’re trying to do now is restore the administrative process. And I think DHS put out a rule today.
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:26)
Thank you, sir. Sir. Earlier you testified-
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:28)
At least that’s what I was told.
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:29)
You testified that you discuss the President’s reelection campaign with him. Does the President tell you what he thinks the winning issues for him would be in his reelection?
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:46)
I’m not going to discuss my discussions with the President.
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:46)
I’m not asking you to divulge anything private or classified.
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:50)
Well, I think my discussions with the President are confidential.
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:52)
Wiliam Barr: (04:45:53)
But it shouldn’t surprise you in an election year, the topic of the election comes up.
Veronica Escobar: (04:45:58)
Well, it surprises me that the DOJ has become so politicized. That’s what surprises me. Sir, have you and the President ever discussed the fact that anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ policies excite his base?
Wiliam Barr: (04:46:13)
Veronica Escobar: (04:46:14)
You’ve never had that conversation.
Wiliam Barr: (04:46:16)
Veronica Escobar: (04:46:16)
He’s never told you that his anti-immigrant policies, his anti-LGBTQ policies, gin up his base.
Wiliam Barr: (04:46:28)
I haven’t discussed that with them, but I assume the immigration … I think a lot of his base does care about immigration policy.
Veronica Escobar: (04:46:32)
Does that motivate some of the work that you do?
Wiliam Barr: (04:46:34)
Like what work?
Veronica Escobar: (04:46:35)
Well, for example, your enthusiasm for-
Wiliam Barr: (04:46:38)
That position was taken … on the transgender that you’re talking about was taken before I arrived in that litigation, I believe.
Veronica Escobar: (04:46:45)
And you can reverse it any day. And my question was whether-
Wiliam Barr: (04:46:48)
No, it was a legal question as to whether the ’64 Act extended the transgender. I think-
Veronica Escobar: (04:46:53)
I’m running out of time, sir, one more question. You keep telling us that you’re not aware of the President’s tweets. Are you aware that your department has stated that the President’s tweets are official White House statements?
Wiliam Barr: (04:47:07)
No, I wasn’t. I don’t pay attention to the tweets unless they’re brought to my attention.
Veronica Escobar: (04:47:12)
Okay, Mr. Barr, thank you so much for being here today. I want to remind you of something you probably don’t remember. But some months ago you actually were outside my office, you were coming out of my neighbor, Doug Collins’ office. I tapped you on the shoulder and in a friendly reminder, I handed you a copy of the Constitution and I asked you to please help us defend the Constitution. There’s nothing more dangerous to our republic than an attorney general who refuses to uphold his oath, refuses to uphold and defend the Constitution and swears allegiance to just one person, Donald Trump. Sadly, that’s where we are today.
Wiliam Barr: (04:47:52)
No, my loyalty is the Constitution.
Veronica Escobar: (04:47:53)
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Wiliam Barr: (04:47:54)
That’s why I came into government.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:47:56)
The gentlelady yields.
Jim Jordon: (04:47:57)
The lady just accused him of not adhering to his oath of office, let him talk. Holy- She just accused the Attorney General of the United States, not adhering to his oath, let the gentleman speak.
Speaker 46: (04:48:07)
Jerrold Nadler: (04:48:07)
The gentleman will suspend, the gentlelady yields back. The ranking member asked whether the video shown by the gentlelady from Florida took place in the U.S. or in Ecuador.
Jim Jordon: (04:48:17)
Jerrold Nadler: (04:48:19)
The U.S. or Venezuela, and that sir is precisely the point. This concludes-
Jim Jordon: (04:48:23)
No, no, my point was, it was Venezuela.
Jerrold Nadler: (04:48:28)
Thank you, Attorney General for participating. Without objection, all members will have five legislative days to submit additional written records for the witnesses or additional materials for the record. Without objection, the hearing is adjourned.