Tuesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr had plenty of popcorn moments, but one exchange the witness had with Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) deserves an honorable mention. As Dean, a Democratic representative from Pennsylvania, was questioning the attorney general, she seemed to completely forget her point. And Barr instantly called her bluff.
Dean began her interrogation with a timeline of events on the day President Trump walked from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church, which had been lit on fire the night before during George Floyd-related riots in the city. About 15 minutes before he took his stride to the church, park police sprayed protesters outside the White House in Lafayette Square with PepperBalls, clearing the area. Barr said it was a coincidence.
She then displayed a description of the DOJ's use of less-lethal weapons from a 2009 report. It explained that the accuracy and accompanying blunt trauma impact of PepperBalls make it "an ideal chemical dispensing system." So, Dean concluded that although Barr claimed it "wasn't a chemical," he must at least be aware of his department's policy.
"What policy?" Barr asked.
Looking sort of surprised, Dean stutteringly replied, "the one I've just provided to you."
Again, Barr asked, "What does it say? What's the policy?" And again he got no answer.
"Well I showed it to you," she said, looking down at her notes and avoiding eye contact.
He looked around and laughed a hearty laugh.
Rep. Dean accused him of not listening to her and he said he honestly "didn't see" the policy on the screen. But no matter, she quickly moved on. She later added that she was "surprised at his lack of respect for a member of Congress."
The real disrespect, I might argue, is a lawmaker dragging the attorney general to Capitol Hill without doing her proper homework and hurling unsubstantiated accusations at him.
"You waited to talk to me like this?" Barr said with a smirk. "You didn't need to wait so long."
If you take one look at his face in the video, you'll know that by this time of the day he was fed up and exhausted with the Democrats' charades. And to think Chairman Jerry Nadler didn't even want to let him take a 5-minute break.