Wednesday, 29 July 2020

'You're a real class act.' Bill Barr snaps at House judiciary chair Jerry Nadler as hearing devolves into a shouting match with Democrats accusing AG of using feds against protesters for 'Trump campaign ads' - then refusing him five-minute break

Bill Barr and House Democrats engaged in an all-out battle Tuesday as the Attorney General appeared in front of the Judiciary Committee for five hours - clashing bitterly and repeatedly over his response to Black Lives Matter protests and his handling of the Roger Stone case and others which touch President Donald Trump.
By the end of the hearing there was open warfare between Barr and the Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler as Barr snapped 'you're a real class act,' when Nadler refused to allow him a five-minute break just before the last two questioners. Nadler had arrived more than hour later after being caught in a minor car accident.
The ill-tempered hearing, marked by Democrats tearing into Barr and charging him with treating minority Americans and allies of the president differently, while Republicans highlighted violent protests and mocked their political rivals, produced little in way of new insight but huge amounts of vitriol.   
Nadler opened by accusing Barr of having federal officers use 'pepper spray and truncheons' against protesters to create footage to aid Trump with his 'law and order'-themed re-election campaign.   
'We are, as a nation, witnessing the federal government turn violently on its own people,' Nadler said as he opened the hearing more than an hour late after he was involved in a minor car accident.
'And although responsibility for the government's failure to protect the health, safety, and Constitutional rights of the American people belongs squarely to President Trump,' the New York Democrat said. 
'He needed help,' Nadler said, pointing to Barr.    
'The president wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,' Nadler said. 'The protesters aren't mobs, they're mothers, they're veterans and mayors.' 
Nadler charged Barr with escalating tensions between police and protesters to achieve 'obvious political objectives.' 'Shame on you Mr. Barr,' Nadler said. 
But Barr hit back at Nadler and the Democrats hard, saying: 'Since when is it OK to burn down a federal courthouse?'
Barr defended the use of federal law enforcement to quell the protests in Portland, Oregon where some protesters have thrown objects at the courthouse.
'What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States,' Barr said.
He was aided by Congressional Republicans, who opened their minority statement with a compilation video of violent disorder in the wake of George Floyd's death, after ranking Republican Jim Jordan accused Democrats of attacking Barr for his willingness to back Trump's claims the Obama administration spied on him. 
That set the tone for the hearing, with Democratic members making lengthy statements and trying to tie Barr down to short answers. He was often interrupted by Democrats, a tactic that annoyed the GOP. 
Republicans praised him and lashed out at protesters who they said were 'Antifa.'    
Attorney General William Barr testified before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning
Attorney General William Barr testified before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning  
Attorney General Bill Barr is sworn in Tuesday as he appears before the House Judiciary Committee
Attorney General Bill Barr is sworn in Tuesday as he appears before the House Judiciary Committee 
The hearing began about an hour late because Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler was in a minor car accident Tuesday morning. Nadler went after Barr in his opening statement
The hearing began about an hour late because Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler was in a minor car accident Tuesday morning. Nadler went after Barr in his opening statement 
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Fiery example: House Republicans played a lengthy compilation of footage from news reports of violence associated with protests in the wake of George Floyd's death
Fiery example: House Republicans played a lengthy compilation of footage from news reports of violence associated with protests in the wake of George Floyd's death
Barrage of support: Republicans' compilation video of violent protests was intended to buttress Barr's position that the federal response us not heavy-handed or intended to assist Donald Trump's re-election campaign
Barrage of support: Republicans' compilation video of violent protests was intended to buttress Barr's position that the federal response us not heavy-handed or intended to assist Donald Trump's re-election campaign
They chided Nadler for making previous statements suggesting Antifa was a 'myth.'  
Barr told members the violence taking place in Portland and other cities is disconnected from Floyd's killing, which he called a 'horrible' event that prompted a necessary national reckoning on the relationship between the black community and law enforcement.
'Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd's death or any legitimate call for reform,' Barr said of the Portland protests.
But under questioning by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who is black, Barr also downplayed accusations of widespread racial discrimination in policing across the country.
'You indicated that the killing of George Floyd was shocking. I disagree,' Jackson Lee said. 'You seem to have a difficult time understanding systemic racism and institutional racism that has plagued so many.'
Barr replied: 'I don't agree that there's systemic racism in police departments.' 
Barr's allies on the Republican side defended him furiously. 
'Wow. I'm beginning to believe that you're the cause of the common cold, and possibly even the COVID-19 because everything's being thrown at you,' remarked Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican from Georgia who's seeking a Senate seat.  
Jordan, an Ohio Republican who serves as the committee's ranking member, gave a visual presentation as part of his opening statement - showing scene after scene of anti-police disorder to serve as a prebuttal to assist Barr, under fire for the federal handling of the 'Black Lives Matter' protests.  
'Well, I hope that Mr. Jordan will never complain about the length of my opening statement,' Nadler said after the short film aired, adding that the Republicans didn't abide by the audio-visual guidelines and give the committee 48 hours notice before showing a video. 
The video showed a number of journalists talking about 'peaceful protests' and then cut to a press conference featuring the grieving wife of David Dorn, a retired police officer who was shot in St. Louis on June 2 in the aftermath of Floyd's Memorial Day death. 
It then showed imagery of protesters setting fires, throwing fireworks at police, trying to knock down fencing around federal property and general unrest. 
Nadler to Barr as hearing opens: 'Shame on you' 
Nadler opened the hearing by reading off a laundry list of Barr's perceived transgressions. 
Nadler said the Trump administration had 'twisted the Department of Justice into a shadow of its former self,' serving the powerful before average Americans. He said the committee has a responsibility to protect Americans 'from that kind of corruption.'
'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.
Nadler placed the most blame on Trump. 'He could not have done this alone.' 
'And after he finished utterly humiliating his first attorney general, he found you,' Nadler said, addressing the witness. 
'In your time at the department you have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,' Nadler continued. 
He accused the attorney general of downplaying systemic racism and said he showed 'open hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement.' 
Nadler also said Barr spread 'disinformation about voter fraud,' said the AG tried to change the census laws to aid Trump and Republicans and misrepresented the findings of the Mueller Report, which chronicled Russian election interference and connections between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.  
'Again and again you personally have interfered with ongoing criminal investigations to protect the president and his allies from the consequences of their actions,' Nadler also said. 
Prior to showing the video, Jordan used his opening remarks to suggest Barr was being picked on by Democrats because he had testified that President Obama's administration 'spied' on the Trump campaign. 
Barr opened up by paying his respects to the late civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis, who is lying in state on Capitol Hill.  Jordan then played a video with violent imagery showing the demonstrations that followed the Memorial Day death of George Floyd
Jordan then played a video with violent imagery showing the demonstrations that followed the Memorial Day death of George Floyd 
He said he believed the Black Lives Matter protesters 'concerns are legitimate.' 
'At the same time I think it  would be an oversimplification to treat the problem as rooted in some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments,' Barr said. 'It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors that can be addressed with focused attention over time.' 
Barr pointed out that several more white Americans than black Americans had been killed by officers this year. 
He also pointed out the number of black Americans killed by gun violence by other black Americans. 
'Each of those lives matter,' Barr testified. 
Barr said that federal forces have gone into cities like Portland to defend federal property from being burned down. And he reported to lawmakers that the protests have been 'hijacked by violent instigators.' 
'The rioters come equipped for fighting,' Barr said, adding that they 'cannot reasonably be called protests.' 
Barr: 'violent rioters and anarchists are hijacking George Floyd protests'  
Barr defended the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in America, saying 'violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests' sparked by Floyd's death. 
'As elected officials of the federal government, every member of this committee - regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump Administration - should condemn violence against federal officers and destruction of federal property,' Barr said.  
'So should state and local leaders who have a responsibility to keep their communities safe. To tacitly condone destruction and anarchy is to abandon the basic rule-of-law principles that should unite us even in a politically divisive time.'
Civil unrest escalated in Portland after federal agents were accused of whisking people away in unmarked cars without probable cause; they were detained and later released. 
And in Washington, D.C., peaceful protesters were violently cleared from the streets by federal officers using smoke bombs and pepper balls ahead of a photo-op by Trump in front of St. John's chruch, where Barr had accompanied him.      
Barr described the run-up to Trump's June 1 photo-op in front of St. John's church, explaining the violence in the days before was 'so bad that, as it's been reported, Secret Service recommended the president go down to the shelter.' 
'We had a breach of the Treasury Department,' he continued, which sits next to the White House. 'The historical building Lafayette park war burned won, the lodge, St. John's was set on fire. Bricks were thrown at the police repeatedly. They took crow bars and pried up the pavers on Lafayette Park and threw those at the police. Balloons of caustic liquid were thrown on the police.'  
Infamous moment: Bill Barr defended the clearing of protesters from outside the White House before he took part in a walk to St. John's Church with Donald Trump
Infamous moment: Bill Barr defended the clearing of protesters from outside the White House before he took part in a walk to St. John's Church with Donald Trump
Not related: Barr claimed the decision to clear out the area around the White House was not to allow the infamous Trump Bible photo opportunity
Not related: Barr claimed the decision to clear out the area around the White House was not to allow the infamous Trump Bible photo opportunity 

Barr testified when got to the White House Monday, June 1, there was a 'total concensus that we could not allow that to happen so close to the White House, that kind of rioting.' 
A decision was made to move the perimeter one block north.  
'During Monday, the factors that led to the timing of it were that that movement was going to be made as soon as there were enough units in place to actually perform it,' Barr explained. 'Units were very slow in getting into place throughout the day, much to my frustration, because I wanted it moved before there was a big build-up of demonstrators.'     
Protesters were teargassed and cleared from H Street as Trump was holding a Rose Garden press conference. 
Several moments later, the president emerged from the White House, walked across Lafayette park and hoisted up a Bible in front of St. John's church. 
'I would say the crowd was very unruly,' Barr said, despite footage from the incident showing people standing around and then getting assaulted.  
He again denied the clearing had anything to do with Trump's photo-op. 
And he said 'teargas' wasn't used, despite media crews finding cannisters that contained the compound commonly referred to as teargas.  
'I think it's a very important non-lethal option. For rioters,' Barr answered later in the hearing. 'When people resist law enforcement, they're not peaceful.'    
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, asked Barr if the point of the teargas was to secure St. John's church. 
'No I didn't say that,' Barr said. 'I made very clear that the purpose was to move the perimeter to I Street.' 
Dems: Why protect Portland's courthouse and not Michigan's governor? 
Raskin and then later Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, questioned why Barr sent federal forces to deal with Black Lives Matter protesters, but not to Michigan when Trump-aligned demonstrators showed up at the state capitol with guns to object to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 stay-at-home order. 
'You are aware of certain kinds of protesters, but in Michigan when protesters carry guns and Confederate flags and Swastikas and call for the governor of Michigan to be beheaded and shot and lynched somehow you're not aware of that, somehow you didn't know about it so you didn't send federal agents in to do to the president's supporters what you did to the president's protesters,' Jayapal told Barr. 
Jayapal pointed out that 'there is a real discrepency in how you react as the attorney general ... when white men with Swastikas storm a government building with guns, there is no need for the president to activate you because they're getting the president's personal agenda done.'
Federal officers who are protecting Portland's courthouse under the orders of the Trump administration have revealed that they 'fear for their lives' after 61 nights of protests in the city, but demonstrators say they are fighting back to protect themselves from the agents
Federal officers who are protecting Portland's courthouse under the orders of the Trump administration have revealed that they 'fear for their lives' after 61 nights of protests in the city, but demonstrators say they are fighting back to protect themselves from the agents
'But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism and the president's very own lack of response to those critical issues then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs because they are considered terrorists by the president,' Jayapal said, accusing Barr. 
Barr answered by explaining Michigan, at its state capitol, could defend itself, while the federal forces in Portland and Washington, D.C. were defending federal property.  
At another moment, when Arizona Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko referenced Jayapal as she questioned Barr about Seattle's Capitol Hill Organized Protest, Jayapal went after the Republican lawmaker too, for mispronouncing her name. 
'If you're going to say my name, please say it right,' Jayapal said confronting Lesko. 
Lesko had asked Barr to explain why the so-call autonomous zones represented a threat.  
'It's quite an outrage that people would use force to take over an area,' Barr said. 
But then he went further, pointing out, 'the leaders of one of our great two political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts.' 
'Why can't we just say violence against federal courts has to stop. Can we hear something like that?' Barr said, being met with silence. 
Four hours in and a clash over masks 
As the hearing pressed on into a fourth hour, tensions continued to be high between members of the two parties. 
Nadler called out his Republican colleagues for not putting back on their masks after they spoke. The current policy on Capitol Hill calls for masks to be worn in the hearing rooms unless a member is speaking. Nadler said drinking coffee didn't count. 
Jordan called attention to the Democrats interrupting the attorney general before he could answer their questions. 
Nadler responded by saying, 'The gentleman's rudeness is not recognized.' 
Then, when Barr asked for a five-minute break, Nadler first said no. 
'You're a real class act,' Barr muttered.  
Barr pointed out that he had waited nearly an hour for the New York Democrat to arrive on Capitol Hill after his a.m. car accident. 
With that, Nadler allowed the five minute break to occur. 
As the hearing sped toward conclusion Jordan interrupted several times to point out that Democrats had suggested Barr was responsible for killing Americans, floated by Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, and refusing to uphold his oath to the Constitution, a comment made by Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat. 
Garcia had shamed Barr for letting Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort out of prison due to the threat of COVID-19 spread but not 'vulnerable Americans.' 
She brought up the case of one woman who had to give birth on a ventilator in prison and then later died. 
Angry: Ranking Republican member Jim Jordan called attention to the Democrats interrupting the attorney general before he could answer their questions
Angry: Ranking Republican member Jim Jordan called attention to the Democrats interrupting the attorney general before he could answer their questions
'Sir you could be saving lives by reducing the prison population, yet you have blatantly abandoned your duty to these women, you have shamelessly abandoned your oath of office to protect all Americans impartially, because you have prioritized by giving special favors to the president's friends,' Garcia said. 'This is not equal justice under the law,' she added. 
Escobar, the last lawmaker to question Barr, slammed the DOJ under his leadership of becoming too politicized. 'There's nothing more dangerous to our republic than an attorney general who refuses to uphold his oath, refuses to uphold and defend the Constitution and swears allegiance to just one person, Donald Trump.' 
'My loyalty is to the Constitution, that's why I came into government,' Barr responded.  
'The lady just accused him of not adhering to his oath of office, let him talk - holy - she just accused the attorney general of the United States of not adhering to his oath, let him speak,' Jordan yelled.  
'Even worse,' Barr said. 
And with several bangs of the gavel, and several more outbursts, Nadler called the hearing adjourned. 
AG Bill Barr : I'll leave office after election 'if the results were clear' but Trump refuses to go
 Barr was asked Tuesday how he would react if Trump lost the election in November, but refused to leave office. 
'If the results are clear, I would leave office,' Barr replied. 
He testified that he wasn't aware of statements made by Trump suggesting the president could question the results of the election. 
'I really am not familiar with these comments or the contexts they occurred,' Barr said. 
The president was non-committal to 'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace when asked if he'd accept the results of the election. 
'I have to see ... No, I'm not going to just say yes. I'm not going to say no, I didn't last time either,' Trump said. 
During the 2016 cycle - and again in 2020 - Trump suggested the election could be 'rigged.'  
Barr split from the president on that assessment Tuesday.   
'I have no reason to think it will be,' he told lawmakers. 
He did, however, continue to float that massive mail-in voting would be problematic and could lead to tampering and fraud. 
'I think there's a high risk that it will,' Barr said. 'If you have wholesale mail-in voting, it increases the risk of fraud.'   
Barr said he wasn't against absentee voting, which is also the president's position as Trump votes by mail as a Florida resident. Barr has also voted by mail in the past. 
'I'm not talking about accommodations to people who have to be out of the state or have some particular need not to - inability to go and vote, what I'm talking about the wholesale conversion of election to mail-in voting,' Barr said.  
He worried ballots could be counterfeited. 
When asked to cite evidence that this could occur, Barr couldn't provide an example. 
'No, it's obvious,' he answered. 
Barr wasn't sure if Trump could move the date of the election, something accidentally floated by Jared Kushner, who gave a non-committal answer about having the election in November due to the coronavirus pandemic.  
'Actually I haven't looked into that question under the Constitution,' Barr answered when asked if the president had the power to make a date change. 'I've never been asked the question before, I've never looked into it.'  
Democrats have pushed for all-mail voting as a way to combat the spread of COVID-19 on election day.   
Also during the hearing, Barr agreed that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election in 2016. 
'I think we have to assume that they are,' he replied when asked if Russia was meddling in this year's election as well.   
 He was asked by Rep. David Cicilline, a New Jersey Democrat, if foreign assistance in an election is ever appropriate. 
'It depends on what kind of assistance,' Barr first answered, before modifying his language in response to an incredulous Cicilline. 'No it's not appropriate,' Barr said. 
'Sorry you had to struggle with that one Mr. Attorney General,' Cicilline said. 
Barr: Prosecutors were trying to treat Roger Stone and Mike Flynn 'more harshly' because they were 'friends of the president' 
Barr asserted Roger Stone and Michael Flynn were not treated fairly by prosecutors claiming Justice Department individuals were trying to levy harsher sentences because of their relationships with President Donald Trump.
'I agree the president's friends do not deserve special breaks, but they also don't deserve to be treated more harshly than other people,' the attorney general said.
'The cases that are cited, the Stone case and the Flynn case – both cases where I determined that some intervention was necessary to rectify the rule of law to make sure people are treated the same,' he continued during Republican Representative Mike Jonhson's questioning.
Roger Stone
Michael Flynn
Roger Stone (left) and Michael Flynn (right) were both prosecuted as relating to their ties to Trump and communications with Russia. Stone's five-nine-year sentence was commuted by Trump and Flynn's charges were dropped by Barr's DOJ
Barr acknowledged that it's difficult for the Justice Department to treat everyone fairly 'especially when you know you will be castigated' for decisions and outcomes.
'But that is what the rule of law is and that's what fairness to the individual ultimately comes to – being willing to do what's right for the individual,' he assured.
Johnson replied to Barr's response with an 'Amen.'
Stone served as an adviser to Trump's 2016 campaign and General Flynn served as the president's national security adviser for only one month in the beginning of his presidency.
Both men faced lawsuits involving their time with Trump and their communications with Russia – as related to the investigation into the Kremlin interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
A court in Washington D.C. recommended Stone serve between seven and nine years for lying to Congress.
Trump and senior administration officials decried the decision as a 'miscarriage of justice,' prompting speculation that there was political interference, with critics claiming the sentencing should have actually been more harsh.
'Stone was prosecuted under me, and I said all along I thought that was a righteous prosecution,' Barr told House lawmakers during the oversight hearing Tuesday. 'I thought he should go to jail, and I thought the judge's sentence was correct.'
'But the lying prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice what anyone else in a similar position had ever served,' he claimed.
'And this is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence,' the Attorney General said of Stone. 'And they were trying to put him in jail for seven to nine years. And I wasn't going to advocate that, because that is not the rule of law.'
On July 10, 2020, Trump commuted his former campaign aide's sentence – just days before he was set to report to prison.
Flynn was also charged during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, but he agreed to a plea bargain in a D.C. court.
As part of the agreement, and in a show of cooperation with Mueller's investigation, the three-star retired general pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador.
Trump publicly called for the charged against his former adviser to be dropped.
Flynn was never officially sentenced, with his hearing being indefinitely postponed just one day before the scheduled date amid appeals and developing information – including his claim that his previous lawyers violated his constitutional rights by providing inadequate legal counsel.
Barr declared in February of this year that Flynn's case would be reviewed by a Trump-appointed prosecutor, who ultimately recommended in the spring that Barr drop the charges .
The U.S. attorney general took that recommendation.
'We didn't clear the park for a photo-op.' Police chief denies clearing protesters outside White House for infamous Trump Bible picture
The head of U.S. Park Police insisted Tuesday that the forceful routing of protesters from the square in front of the White House last month had 'zero correlation' with President Donald Trump's staged photo event minutes later. 
But he was unable to point to any immediate threat that justified his officers' sudden, violent drive against the hundreds gathered there.
Gregory T. Monahan's testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee was his first extended accounting of the Park Police's offensive against protesters and journalists June 1 in Lafayette Square.
Attorney General William Barr, testifying separately on Trump's deployment of hundreds of federal officers and agents against nationwide protests this spring and summer, also distanced Trump's photo event from the decision to drive demonstrators from Lafayette Square that night. 
'This was something conceived of long before and didn't turn on the nature of the crowd,' Barr said.
But appearing at the same hearing as Monahan, Maj. Adam DeMarco of the Army National Guard told lawmakers of his surprise when Park Police officers suddenly and rapidly mobilized to drive the hundreds of then-peaceful demonstrators from the square, clubbing people with their shields and batons and unleashing chemical irritants. 
It appeared 'an unnecessary escalation of the use of force,' DeMarco said. He said it ran counter to his training on military guidelines on the use of force against civilians and his experience with managing crowds as a combat veteran in Iraq.
The June 1 demonstrations outside the White House came at the height of this year's nationwide protests over the killing of Black people at the hands of police, and has been a flashpoint in growing debate over Trump's ongoing use of heavily militarized federal forces against the street protests. 
Hundreds of federal agency employees are now mobilized against a mix of peaceful and unruly protesters in Portland, Oregon.
Democrats charged that the action at Lafayette Square, long one of the nation's most prominent venues for demonstrations, was a 'test run' for the ongoing deployment of uniformed federal agency forces against protesters nationally.
DeMarco disputed Monahan's testimony that Park Police warned the crowd in advance over special sound equipment audible for hundreds of feet. 
He said the only notice to the milling crowds came in garbled words over an officer's hand-held megaphone that he could barely hear standing about 20 yards away. 'I could just make out every other word,' he said.
The events in Lafayette Square played out in just over an hour -- between about 6 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., according to testimony - and were watched closely by Americans on news and cellphone videos.
Barr, accompanied by Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid an unannounced visit to the square within that hour and was recorded consulting with a senior Park Police officer at the scene. 
Park Police suddenly started moving against protesters shortly after Barr and Milley departed. The officers clubbed protesters with their batons and their riot shields and fired pepper balls, a chemical irritant, as demonstrators stumbled or ran away, some with their hands up.
DeMarco and others have said they believed the Park Police also fired tear gas. Monahan denies that.
About a half-hour later, Trump moved through the area on his way to a church that had been attacked by demonstrators a previous night. Standing briefly before news cameras as he held a Bible in the air, he then returned to the White House complex.
'We did not clear that park for a photo op,' Monahan said under questioning. 'There is 100%, zero correlation between our operation and the president's visit.'
Monahan also denied that either the White House, Barr or Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who oversees the Park Police, gave the order to drive protesters and news crews from Lafayette Square, by the surprise use of force.
Testifying separately before the House Judiciary Committee at the same time Tuesday, Barr faced Democratic lawmakers' questions about the aggressive federal response to protesters nationally, including that evening in Lafayette Square.
Barr has said the plan to move the protesters from Lafayette Square was solidified during an afternoon meeting with multiple agencies and was supposed to be put in place by early afternoon on June 1.
'I wanted it moved before there was a big buildup of demonstrators,' Barr testified Tuesday.
Officials had to wait for additional law enforcement and National Guard personnel to come in to provide support before the perimeter could be moved, Barr said. After those officials were all in place, they moved forward with pushing out the perimeter, he said.
Democrats at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing focused on what Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California called the 'amazing coincidence' of federal forces clearing the square just before Trump moved through, and on the sudden use of violent against the crowd.
Monahan, the Park Police acting chief, cited protesters' throwing of bricks, rocks and other projectiles in the days before June 1. But Monahan disclosed that the only injury to Park Police that day came as phalanxes of officers were driving out the protesters, and someone punched an officer in the face.
'Your decision process should have been based by what was' happening in the square at the time, said Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat and former Marine.
'No one was injured, by the way, until you all advanced,' Gallego told Monahan. 'If I had acted that way when I was in the Marine Corps, I probably would have been busted down a couple of' ranks.
Rep. Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican, called the committee's probe of the clearing of the square 'an act of political theater' by Democrats. 
The contention 'that somehow the U.S. Park Police attacked peaceful protesters is ludicrous,' Hice said.  

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