Nel's New Day

July 28, 2020

Barr: ‘Not That I Remember’

Filed under: Executive action — trp2011 @ 11:38 PM
Tags: , , , ,

In today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, AG Bill Barr confirmed to the free world that the United States is well on its way toward becoming an authoritarian nation. The U.S. attorney general supposedly supports the people of the United States, but his testimony further guaranteed he sees his sole purpose is protecting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the Department of Justice is no longer an independent agency.

The British publication Independent summarized Barr’s misconduct:

“Barr misrepresented the Mueller report; refused to pursue the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community’s Trump-Ukraine criminal referral; interfered in the criminal cases of President Trump’s allies; fired the US Attorney at the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman; ordered the brutal clearing of peaceful protestors at Lafayette Square for Trump’s bible-holding photo op; and made some controversial remarks about racism in America…

“He falsely called the “Russiagate” scandal ‘bogus,’ falsely claimed President Trump has never interfered in his work (Trump has done so publicly), defended unleashing brutality on protestors, and denied systemic racism in policing. As Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) would later say in this hearing, the statement ‘read like it was written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone.’”

Barr’s testimony was marked by obfuscation, delaying, lying, and the repeated statement, “Not that I Remember.” [Horrible memory for a person who runs one of the most important agencies in the United States!] Samples of the hearing:

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) asked about the right-wing protesters occupying the Michigan Capitol where they “carried guns, Confederate flags, and swastikas, and call for the governor of Michigan to be beheaded and shot and lynched.” Barr said he didn’t know anything about it. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) pointed out Barr’s selective objections to protesting: the AG doesn’t mind when the protesters are armed right-wingers belligerently objecting to stay-at-home orders.

Barr claimed violent clearing of peaceful protesters in DC’s Lafayette Park was to move the perimeter, not for DDT’s photo-op. He also denied tear gas was used despite proof to the contrary.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked if Barr had ever recommended a reduced sentence for anyone other than DDT’s friends. Barr couldn’t remember anyone. Swalwell followed by asking why the DOJ told DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen he would go back to solitary in prison if he didn’t sign an agreement to not write a book or speak to the media. Barr said he didn’t know anything about it.

Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) asked about systemic racism. Barr denied it existed.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) asked about excessive use of force primarily against Black people. Barr said that more Blacks were killed by other Blacks than by police officers.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) asked if president’s accepting or soliciting foreign assistance in an election is appropriate. Barr first said it “depends” on the assistance. Cicilline said “any kind”; Barr struggled and finally said no.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) questioned Barr about DDT’s response to the COVID-19 CRISIS. Barr said he needed “to see the context” when Jeffries quoted Barr describing DDT’s guidance as “superb.” About DDT’s suggestion that people treat the virus by swallowing disinfectants, Barr said, “That’s not what I heard.” He also repeated the debunked claims that President Obama had not replaced the PPE although DDT had three years and sent much of the supplies to other countries at the beginning of the pandemic.

Jeffries also asked Barr what he would do if DDT loses the election but refuses to leave office. Barr said, “If the results are clear, I will leave office.” He added he was “not familiar” with DDT’s comments on the issue.

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) questioned Barr about his lying in April when he said that “the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation.” Barr answered, “Mm-hmm” before he said he meant only “the supplying of documents.” Neguse said that Barr knew when he made the statement DDT had not agreed to be interviewed by the special counsel, and Barr became visibly uncomfortable.  

Neguse continued with questioning Barr’s claim that former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had “stepped down” from his position. Barr laughed and answered, “He may not have known it, but he was stepping down. He was being removed!” Neguse told Barr he lied because the statement didn’t say Berman was being removed or fired.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) asked about the legality of advanced surveillance techniques—cell-site simulators, facial recognition, and sweeping surveillance of internet activity—on protesters. Barr answered, “I really can’t speak to those instances if they’ve in fact occurred.” The question was raised about whether Barr thinks DDT can have mass surveillance of protesters without congressional authorization. On July 21, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe asking them to confirm that federal agencies stopped surveillance operations authorized under the now-expired FISA provisions.

Some of Barr’s statements attempting to defend his actions:

Referring to shortening Roger Stone’s sentence for lying under oath: “Do you think it’s fair for a 67-year-old man to be sentenced to prison for seven to nine years?”

About the acceleration of protesting in Portland (OR) by sending in untrained, violent federal agents: “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.”

Defending police killing of unarmed Black people: Barr said studies show “police are less likely to shoot at a black suspect, a little more likely to shoot at a white suspect.”

A fact-check on Barr’s statements from the conservative Oregonian:

Barr: There have been two months of violent protests and rioting in Portland. Both attendance and the level of violence have waxed and waned since May 28, and no one has consistently described the nightly groups as riots. The vast majority of the gathering is peaceful, and the federal courthouse became a target only when federal agents (aka DDT’s militia) were sent to Portland in early July. The protests escalated after a federal agent shot peaceful protester Donovan La Bella in the head.

Barr: Antifa is active in the Portland demonstrations. A variety of left-wing groups have participated in the protests, but they don’t collaborate. Recently large groups of mothers, dads, teachers, healthcare workers, lawyers, and veterans have identified themselves by their garb. Violence has come from far-right extremists, dressing in traditional antifa-appearing clothing.

Barr: Protests are being hijacked by violent demonstrators whose primary aim is to injure federal officers. Although federal agents disperse crowds without discrimination or warning, they seem to focus on volunteer medics. Protesters, including La Bella, have received high-profile injuries without provocation.

Barr: There are less than 100 federal officers deployed in Portland. The count is at least 114 federal agents, and several FBI agents are investigating protesters’ alleged criminal activity.

Six mayors from Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Washington DC, Albuquerque, and Kansas City (MO) sent a letter to Congress requesting legislation to block DDT’s “unacceptable, un-American, and unconstitutional” use of force. They wrote, “This provocation is resulting in direct physical harm to our communities and must end.” [Below: federal and local law enforcement collaborate.] 

Other cities are discovering the violence from right-wing extremists as DDT sends his militia across the country. Richmond (VA) police arrested six right-wing saboteurs carrying pro-BLM signs and breaking windows at downtown businesses. Boogaloo members wearing Hawaiian shirts to signify their push for a racial war have appeared in Minneapolis, Salisbury (NC), Bentonville (AR), Seattle, and Los Angeles. One of the members, arrested at a Denver protest, had a large arsenal in his car’s trunk. A fake flyer in Olympia falsely offered $200 per individual to act as “paid protesters,” supposedly paid by George Soros and the Open Society Foundation. The white nationalist Evropa organization spread a hoax on Twitter advocating violence, tweets which Donald Trump Jr used to support his father’s blame on antifascists for violence.

Meanwhile, protesters are losing their constitutional rights. Federal agents are arresting protesters for such minor offenses as “failing to obey” an order to get off a sidewalk on federal property. At least 12 of those arrested were released from jail only if they agreed to not attend protests, some of them anywhere in Oregon—a violation of their First Amendment rights. The order was signed by a federal magistrate in Portland.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said the federal government’s authoritarian behavior poses an “enormous” threat to democracy, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) described the tactics as “an all-out assault in military-style fashion.” Military control of the U.S. was last imposed in the U.S. after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

A sliver of hope comes from talks between Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown and the federal government to reduce federal agents if the state increases its own enforcement. There is no agreement, but DDT may realize that his militia’s violence isn’t getting him votes.

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