House

Clyburn slams Barr for equating ‘human bondage to expert advice to save lives’

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) slammed Attorney General William Barr on Thursday after the Justice Department head the day before called coronavirus pandemic restrictions “the greatest intrusion on civil liberties” since slavery. 

Clyburn called Barr’s comments, made while speaking at an event at the conservative-leaning Hillsdale College in Michigan, the “most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful things I have ever heard.”

“It is incredible that the chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives,” Clyburn said on CNN’s “New Day.” “Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing the lives. This pandemic is a threat to human life and the experts — the medical experts, the scientists, are telling us what it takes to respond successfully to this pandemic.”

The Democratic leader went on to criticize the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. so far.

“If this administration, this God-awful duo of [President] Trump and Barr, are going about the business of doing what’s necessary to protect the people of this great country, we would be beyond this pandemic by now. Those countries that did it, they’re all beyond it,” Clyburn said. 

He said if Trump had called for a national lockdown months ago “lives would be saved” and “our children would be going on with their lives today.” 

“But that is just what we’re up against here, two people in charge of running the law enforcement of this country are absolutely tone-deaf to what it takes to be great leaders. They are driving this country into a direction that no one ever thought they would see in our lifetimes,” Clyburn added. 

The U.S. has reported more coronavirus cases and fatalities than any other country, with more than 6.6 million cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The Trump administration did not impose federal restrictions during the pandemic, leaving the decision up to governors as to whether or not to shutter nonessential businesses and when to allow them to reopen, but Trump repeatedly urged state leaders to reopen economies even amid high levels of outbreaks. 

Barr, during his Wednesday remarks in Michigan, criticized governors’ stay-at-home orders put in place to mitigate the spread of the potentially fatal coronavirus. 

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” he said.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 James Clyburn slavey Stay at home order William Barr
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