Attorney General Bill Barr clashed with Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday over accusations that he is carrying out President Trump‘s political wishes, as he appeared for a long-awaiting hearing where tensions also flared over protests and riots following George Floyd’s death in police custody.
The highly anticipated hearing, originally scheduled for 10 a.m. local time, was delayed after committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., was in a car accident. Nadler did not suffer any injuries.
Once the hearing began, Nadler did not hesitate to express his scorn for Barr and his Justice Department.
“Thank you for being here, Mr. Barr,” Nadler said with a note of sarcasm, pointing out that this was the attorney general’s first time appearing before the committee.
The chairman went on to claim that Barr and his department have “downplayed the effects of systemic racism” in the wake of Floyd’s death and ongoing protests.
Addressing the department’s approach to cases related to the Russia probe, Nadler summed up the DOJ’s attitude by claiming that “the president’s enemies will be punished, his friends will be protected,” no matter the cost, and saying that the DOJ’s actions have caused “real damage to our democratic norms.”
“In your time at the department, you have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,” Nadler said.
Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, fired back in his opening that Democrats’ hostility toward Barr is based on one thing: “Spying.”
Jordan said that Democrats took exception to Barr accusing the Obama administration of spying on the Trump campaign, despite evidence that has come out revealing flaws in the FBI’s process in acquiring a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.