Attorney General William Barr gives a forceful defense of the rule-of-law in prepared remarks to today’s Judiciary Committee meeting released Monday night, while blasting politicians and the media for their lack of response to the ongoing violence in Portland.
“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,” Barr wrote in his remarks.
He marks the Portland riots as a telling example: “What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States.”
After describing the carnage within the city, Barr calls out politicians and media for their failure to condemn the violence. “To state what should be obvious, peaceful protesters do not throw explosives into federal courthouses, tear down plywood with crowbars, or launch fecal matter at federal officers. Such acts are in fact federal crimes under statutes enacted by this Congress.”
For Barr, the failure signals an abandonment of the rule-of-law, which should have been unifying in an otherwise partisan moment.
“At the very least, we should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control, or tear down statues and monuments that law-abiding communities chose to erect, or to destroy the property and livelihoods of innocent business owners,” his prepared remarks say.
“When a community turns on and pillories its own police, officers naturally become more risk averse and crime rates soar,” he states. Each of these lives lost in criminal violence, the Department head wrote, matters too.
Barr, who also served as attorney general under George H W Bush, also addresses attacks from politicians about his time working with President Trump. Numerous Democrats have suggested impeaching Barr, a cause Democrat Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said he “may very well” go along with. In his statement, Barr makes clear exactly where such attacks were coming from.
“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions,” Barr states at the start of his remarks. “Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.”