- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr slammed rioters in Portland and other cities across the country, condemning their actions as “an assault on the United States,” in a fiery opening statement released late Monday by the Justice Department ahead of his congressional testimony.

Mr. Barr is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, his first appearance before the panel in more than a year.

The nation’s top cop intends to use his time to assail the rioting and lawlessness that has spread across the country following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody on Memorial Day in Minnesota.

“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,” he intends to say. “Nor could such brazen acts of lawlessness plausibly be justified by a concern that police officers in Minnesota or elsewhere defied the law.”

Citing the violence in Portland, Oregon, where a huge crowd of protestors laid siege to the federal courthouse and other government buildings, Mr. Barr will say violent rioters have hijacked legitimate protests for “senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims.”

“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,” he will tell lawmakers.

The Judiciary Committee is chaired by Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, who dismissed the violent protests in Portland as “a myth.” Mr. Nadler’s comments came after he was confronted by a pro-Trump activist who captured the exchange on video.

“That’s a myth that’s being spread only in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Nadler responded.

Mr. Barr, however, will call on committee Democrats to condemn the violence, much of it directed at federal officers.

Mr. Barr will call on committee Democrats to condemn the violence, much of it directed at federal officers.

“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,” he will say. “At the very least, we should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control.”

Mr. Barr will acknowledge that Blacks’ concerns that they won’t get a fair shake from law enforcement is legitimate, but said it was an oversimplification to blame the police for racial issues plaguing the nation.

The attorney general will also defend his independence as head of the Justice Department.

The committee is filled with some of President Trump’s most outspoken critics, who have accused the attorney general of doing the president’s bidding in cases against his associates.

Democrats are expected to grill Mr. Barr about the firestorm over the Justice Departments’ sentencing of Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the President and the decision to abandon the prosecution of Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security advisor.

Mr. Barr, however, intends to fire back insisting that his decisions were made in the interests of justice, not the president.

“The president has not attempted to interfere in these decisions,” he will lawmakers. “On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever callI think is right. That is precisely what I have done.”

Mr. Barr will say that he’s “deeply troubled” by what he perceives as the “the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal.”

He will tell lawmakers his independence has allowed the Justice Department to return to applying a singular standard of justice for everyone.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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