National Security

Nadler, Barr spar over whether DOJ has been politicized

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Attorney General William Barr quickly clashed during a highly-anticipated hearing Tuesday over whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) has become politicized during the Trump administration.

Nadler alleged that Barr has used his position of power to not only shield President Trump and his allies from legal scrutiny, but also to help Trump’s reelection campaign by “flooding” law enforcement agents into Portland, Ore., to enforce the president’s rule-of-law image ahead of November.

“Your tenure is marked by a persistent war against the Department’s professional core in an apparent effort to secure favors for the president,” Nadler said in his opening remarks.

Barr, meanwhile, defended his tenure, stating that he has sought to “restore the rule of law” in a department that he felt had “strayed” prior to his arrival, while arguing that federal law enforcement was warranted to stave off violent aggressors who have descended on federal property in Portland.

In his opening remarks, he alleged that Democrats have sought to “discredit” him by “conjuring up a narrative” that he’s a Trump loyalist because he chose to investigate the origins of the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He argued that this also appears to be their “agenda” with Tuesday’s hearing.

Not long after, Barr sought to challenge Democrats on claims that he is seeking to help the president’s friends and squash Trump’s enemies.

“I am supposedly punishing the president’s enemies and helping the president’s friends. What enemies have I indicted? Could you point to one indictment that has been under the Department that you feel is unmerited, that you feel violates the rule of law?” Barr said, appearing to address Nadler during Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) questioning time.

Barr also dismissed allegations that he has sought to shield Trump’s friends, including Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, from prosecution.

“Now you say I helped the president’s friends? … In both cases, I determined some intervention was necessary to rectify the rule of law, to make sure the people were treated the same,” Barr responded.

“I agree the president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people and sometimes that is a different decision to make … but that is what rule of law is.”

Under Barr, the government has sought to reduce the sentence it was seeking for Stone, who was charged with false statements and obstruction, as well as drop its case against Flynn despite him pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

Both actions, however, have fueled allegations from Democrats and DOJ whistleblowers that the president’s friends have received favorable treatment.

Nadler also alleged Barr was seeking to further inflame violence to help Trump’s 2020 presidential election, saying that he first used violence against peaceful demonstrators in Washington, D.C., before expanding these tactics to Portland.

“The president wants footage for his campaign ads and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,” Nadler said at the end of his five minutes of questioning. “Now you are projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives. Shame on you, Mr. Barr. Shame on you.”

Barr, who had to use time during Johnson’s five minutes of questioning to respond to Nadler, rejected the chairman’s claims and defended the presence of federal troops in Portland. He argued if local leaders would provide law enforcement services from other jurisdictions, federal agents would not be necessary.

“We are on the defense. We are not out looking for trouble,” Barr responded.

While Nadler sought to paint the protesters in Portland as mostly peaceful mothers, mayors and veterans, Barr argued there is a group of people who have returned almost daily for two months to attack the federal courthouse. He pointed to acts of violence against federal officers, saying three federal officers might have been permanently blinded last week with lasers.

“I just reject the idea that the Department has flooded anywhere and attempted to suppress demonstrators. … In Portland, the courthouse is under attack,” Barr said, pointing to the use of explosives and violence against officers.

Tags Department of Justice DOJ Donald Trump Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler Mike Johnson Roger Stone William Barr

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