I watch a lot of congressional and Senate hearings as well as news conferences. That way I can get my information firsthand, without bias, as with our local city and county meetings.
Having said that, I sat in horror as I watched the congressional hearing with Attorney General William Barr, July 28. I have never seen such an orchestrated effort to shut someone down and bully them for hours. At least Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was able to defend himself. It was truly sad and disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not unusual for congressional members to interrupt and be rude, but not to this degree. It was clearly just a four-hour public relations stunt to create headlines, soundbites, click bait for the complicit news and social media to influence public opinion. Never mind whether it’s true or not, it’s all about ratings and elections.
Barr came voluntarily, and this time, it was the Democrats who grilled him on protecting federal buildings; Portland, Oregon; his opinion on tear gas and whether it was an appropriate response for rioters. He was asked if he was a lackey for the president and at one point even that he was responsible for murder.
The worst part was that for almost four hours, every time he was asked a question from a Democrat member and started to answer, immediately the Congress member would shout, “Reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time,” shutting down his answer. One Congress member asked him a question, and when he started to answer she immediately shouted him down accusing him of refusing to answer her questions, even adding that she couldn’t believe how he was refusing to answer over his attempt to answer. He was told “Shame on you.” It was a total clickbait hearing. It served no other purpose. At one point, Barr said, when they wouldn’t allow him to answer their accusations, “I thought this was a hearing and the purpose was for me to be heard.”
My hope is that the Democrats on that committee are not representative of the whole party.
After much frustration, Barr asked the committee, “Can any of you just come out and say that it’s not OK to burn down federal courthouses?” There was dead silence. That moment was surprising even to me.
In an interview later with Mark Levine, Barr said, “They (Democrats) talk about the rule of law, the importance of the federal legal system and the protection of civil rights. At the heart of that is our court system, and not one of them piped up saying, ‘No it’s not OK to be burning down federal courts.”
Barr said, “I have the perspective of having been attorney general 30 years ago and now, and I thought things were partisan and tough 30 years ago. (It was) nothing compared to today; things have fundamentally changed.
“I think what’s happened is that the left-wing has really withdrawn and pulled away from the umbrella of classical liberal values that have undergirded our society since our founding. And within the family, we’ve had two ways of resolving disputes. One is discussion, the dialectic, the marketplace of ideas, trying to arrive at the truth.
“We had an idea that there was some truth to arrive at. And then if we couldn’t reach agreement, we would vote, and that’s how we operated,” he said.
He said they aren’t interested in compromise or dialectic exchange of views. He said they view their political opponents as evil because they stand in the way of their “progressive utopia” that they’re trying to reach. He said that’s what gives the intensity to the partisan feeling today. He also called them cowards who are only concerned with power and saving their jobs.
In the Levine interview, he said that he thought they were afraid to let him answer their questions. It was ironic that they were accusing him of securing favors for Trump by politicizing the Department of Justice, when Barr has stated clearly that he is doing just the opposite and he said he has been completely independent from Trump in running the Department of Justice.
Barr said that he is working to restore integrity to the Justice Department because it has been politicized and used as a weapon for political purposes, as it was with the Russia investigation against Trump and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The DOJ is expected to present indictments in the next few months from U.S. attorney John Durham who was appointed previously to serve as a special prosecutor on this and four other separate occasions, including corruption in the FBI. It is a deeper dive into the FBI on the heels of what Inspector General Michael Horowitz found and reported to DOJ and the Senate last year. He found 17 major “mistakes,” lies and fraud, even as it relates to documents given to the FISA court.
It will be important to follow the facts and not get distracted by emotional nightly “news” anchors and constant clickbait.
Julie Reeder can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.