Attorney General William Barr is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday for the first time in his year-and-a-half long tenure as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
Democrats are grilling him over a long list of controversies and his repeated interventions in matters of interest to President Donald Trump.
Barr’s appearance follows more than a year of stand-offs and delays — he hasn’t appeared before any congressional committee since May 2019 when he testified to a Senate panel on his handling of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — later declining to appear before the House.
Here’s how the hearing unfolded:
3:58 p.m. Hearing adjourned
Chairman Nadler adjourned the hearing after a contentious five hours.
2:30 p.m. Barr says use of tear gas appropriate ‘to disperse unlawful assembly’
In an exchange during which Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., asks Barr a question about the use of tear gas on Portlander Christopher David — a Navy veteran seen on viral video being beaten by federal agents — Barr says, “I don’t know what kind of gas it was.”
Barr went on to defend the federal presence in Portland and the use of force against protesters, claiming that agents are needed to prevent “violent attacks on federal courts” from “metastasizing around the country.”
Asked by Cicilline if it’s ever appropriate for officers to use force against peaceful protesters, Barr says it is when the gathering is unlawful.
“It is appropriate to use tear gas when it’s indicated — to disperse an unlawful assembly and sir, unfortunately peaceful protesters are affected by that,” Barr said.
But Barr continued to deny the use of tear gas at Lafayette Park on June 1, even as a U.S. National Guard major testified in a different House hearing Tuesday that there was, and that he picked up the shells on the street that day.
Cicilline also asks Barr whether it’s ever appropriate to accept or solicit foreign election assistance.
“Depends what kind of assistance,” Barr said, before being pressed further. “No, it’s not appropriate.”
“OK, sorry you had to struggle with that one, Mr. Attorney General,” Cicilline quipped…