Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) questioned Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday over the federal government’s response to protestors in Washington D.C. last month, as well as the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus. Barr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for the first time since he was confirmed as attorney general in 2019.
The attorney general faced questions from House Democrats about a range of issues, including Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election and President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence. Democrats accused Barr of doing the President’s political bidding and acting as his personal attorney throughout his tenure as attorney general.
In a tense exchange, Congressman Raskin criticized Barr for ordering the tear gassing of protestors on June 1 in Lafayette Square. The Attorney General defended the administration’s decision to clear out protestors before President Trump’s photo opportunity at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
“I made very clear that the purpose was to move the perimeter to I street, which had been the plan, as far as I’m aware, all day,” Barr said.
Barr also refuted Raskin’s accusation that the approximately 2,000 protestors were assaulted by the police. Raskin noted that he had heard from constituents in his congressional district who were among those cleared out in the crowd.
Raskin also questioned Barr’s characterization of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus as “superb”. Barr defended Trump’s response to the crisis, rejecting Raskin’s charge that the Justice Department undermined state’s public health orders.
Watch Raskin’s full exchange with Barr here: