Home Politics Congrats, Dems: You Just Let Trump’s Chief Henchman Off the Hook

Congrats, Dems: You Just Let Trump’s Chief Henchman Off the Hook


Attorney General William Barr takes the oath before he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Congressional Auditorium at the US Capitol Visitors Center July 28, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr has ignored subpoenas requesting his testimony before Congress and been held in contempt of Congress for ignoring those subpoenas. But yesterday, Barr finally sat down before the House Judiciary Committee to deliver live testimony under oath. 

If you watch a lot of Congressional hearings (and congratulations to those who do not), the thing that likely struck you was how quickly this much anticipated event reverted to the familiar melodrama of so many other Congressional hearings.

Democrats, who are in control of the Judiciary Committee, made soaring speeches about the rule of law, and tacked on a couple of questions at the end. Republicans made craven speeches in hopes of a presidential retweet. And Barr answered what questions he liked, ignored what questions he didn’t like, and generally stalled or obfuscated during the brief moments Congress members stopped speechifying long enough for him to say anything.

This was Congressional theater in its purest form, with all sides (Democrats, Republicans, and Barr) trying to score “points” for some non-existent scorekeeper. Liberal Twitter erupted with praise for particularly incisive speeches from Democrats. White wing Twitter expressed glee every time Representative Jim Jordan speed-talked a Republicans conspiracy theory into the record. Cable news hosts graded the effectiveness of particular representatives. The only thing that was missing was Jeff Probst handing out immunity idols to the participants.

I found the entire display disgusting. We are in a fight to preserve our democracy from authoritarian brutes who think the rule of law does not apply to them. Barr is one of the chief brutes. He was finally compelled to sit down and testify to his brutishness under oath. Yet this five-hour episode of “Big Obvious Lies” is all the elected representatives of the democracy he wants to destroy had for him? The same everybody-gets-to-play format that witnesses have so easily conquered in the past? The same political speeches? The same bickering with an off-screen time-lord over whose turn it is to hold the conch?

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Barr is directly responsible for organizing pardons or reduced sentences for Trump’s political friends while plotting retribution against former Trump associate, Michael Cohen, who eventually came clean. He’s directly responsible for gassing peaceful protesters outside the White House so the president could have a photo-op. He’s directly responsible for pushing out a prosecutor who may have been investigating crimes committed by the Trump family. Barr lied about the Mueller report and continues to spread lies and misinformation about Russian interference in elections, mail-in voting, and the administration’s attempt to suppress the Black vote. Barr is currently leading investigations into Trump’s political rivals, and, as a close confidant of the president, Barr likely has first-hand knowledge about whether Trump has any plans to use federal troops either to steal the election or remain in power after he loses. At this point, there is nary a crime nor an abuse of power committed by this administration that doesn’t deeply involve Bill Barr. 




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