Jul 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Nadler accuses Barr of undermining democratic norms in opening statement

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) painted the integrity of the Justice Department as "more at risk than at any time in modern history" in opening remarks at a hearing for Attorney General Bill Barr Tuesday, accusing him of shielding President Trump from responsibility and eroding democratic norms.

Why it matters: The hearing, which focuses on the DOJ's alleged politicization under Barr, is the attorney general's first time appearing before the committee. Barr in his own remarks accused the committee's Democrats of trying to discredit him over his investigations into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe.

What he's saying: Nadler said Barr has "aided and abetted the worst failings of this President," listing six decisions he claims have "left us deeply concerned about the Department of Justice."

  • "First, under your leadership, the Department has endangered Americans and violated their constitutional rights by flooding federal law enforcement into the streets of American cities, against the wishes of the state and local leaders of those cities, to forcefully and unconstitutionally suppress dissent.
  • "Second, at your direction, Department officials have downplayed the effects of systemic racism and abandoned the victims of police brutality; refused to hold abusive police departments accountable for their actions; and expressed open hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • "Third, in coordination with the White House, the Department has spread disinformation about voter fraud, failed to enforce voting rights laws, and attempted to change the census rules to flaunt the plain text of the Constitution—all in the apparent attempt to assist the President’s reelection.
  • "Fourth, at the President’s request, the Department has amplified the President’s conspiracy theories and shielded him from responsibility by blatantly misrepresenting the Mueller Report and failing to hold foreign actors accountable for their attacks on our elections—undermining both national security and the Department’s professional staff in the process.
  • "Fifth, again and again, you personally have interfered with ongoing criminal investigations to protect the President and his allies from the consequences of their actions. 
  • "Finally, and perhaps most perniciously, the Department has placed the President’s political needs over the public health by challenging stay-at-home orders in the states hit hardest by the pandemic.  The Department’s persistent efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act will make recovery that much harder."

The other side: "Spying. That one word. That's why they're after you," Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in his opening statement, accusing Democrats of retaliating against Barr for his attempts to uncover misconduct in the FBI's Russia investigation.

  • Jordan concluded his remarks by showing a montage of violence against law enforcement during protests and riots across the country over the last few months.
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