Democrats accuse Barr of helping Trump distract from coronavirus

Democrats accuse Barr of helping Trump distract from coronavirus
© Washington Post/Pool

House Democrats on Tuesday accused Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump administration awarding M in housing grants to human trafficking survivors Trump stokes conspiracy about Epstein death, stands by wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell Democrats' silence on our summer of violence is a tactical blunder MORE of helping President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE distract from the administration's handling of the coronavirus response and aid his reelection campaign by cracking down on protests across the U.S.

During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Barr's first appearance before Congress in more than a year, Democratic lawmakers expressed anger at the attorney general's aggressive response to the demonstrations.

Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenDemocrats accuse Barr of helping Trump distract from coronavirus State and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November FEC commissioner resigns, leaving agency without a quorum again MORE (D-Calif.) characterized Barr's deployment of federal officers to cities like Portland, Ore., as “trying to create a scene” and “divert attention from the COVID failure” from the administration.

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Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) pressed Barr on whether he had discussed the reelection campaign with the president and if the deployment of federal law enforcement officers had been a part of those discussions.

Barr responded that Trump has discussed the reelection race with his Cabinet but declined to say whether the use of department resources were a part of that.

"I’m a member of the Cabinet and there’s an election going on. Obviously the topic comes up," Barr said.

"I’m not going to discuss what I discussed with the president," he added when pressed further.

Barr is expected to face further questions Tuesday afternoon about allegations that he has used the department to protect Trump and his associates and his response to protests against police brutality.

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Republicans have painted protests around the country as violent and have defended Barr's actions. 

After his opening remarks, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence Tucker Carlson calls Fauci a 'fraud' after tense hearing Overnight Health Care: Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony | CDC: Children might play 'important role' in spreading COVID-19 | GOP leader wants rapid testing at Capitol MORE (Ohio), the panel's ranking Republican, played a video that edited images of violence at protests into a loop, underscoring his side's arguments. 

Democrats have argued that protests in Portland and other cities have been largely peaceful, with some exceptions.