If you've missed today's House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Attorney General Bill Barr, you haven't missed much of anything worthwhile. Partisans on each side of the dais used their brief question-and-answer periods as opportunities to grandstand and preen, trying to squeeze as many breathless political points into their allotted time slots as possible. This is hardly unusual, of course, but it felt particularly pointless and unserious, even by Congressional standards. Democrats harangued Barr on a wide array of topics, rarely allowing the witness to actually respond to their assertions and broadsides. Less than an hour into the 'questioning,' if you can call it that, I offered this assessment. If anything, it's generous:
1) Barr is so much better and smarter than these people.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) July 28, 2020
2) Dems seem to be committing to blaming federal law enforcement for rioters’ violence.
3) These hearings are little more than platforms for competing partisan preening. Insufferable.
Go back and watch the sad spectacle for yourself on C-SPAN's website, if you'd like. I wouldn't recommend it. As a preview of coming attractions, Chairman Nadler -- who recently dismissed the serious, documented violence in Portland as a "myth" -- concluded his harried Q&A with this:
Rep. Jerry Nadler: "Shame on you, Mr. Barr." pic.twitter.com/FIVJGDzrja— The Hill (@thehill) July 28, 2020
Like many of his colleagues, Nadler repeatedly interrupted Barr's attempts to even begin to respond to the accusations being hurled at him, then concluded his scripted performance with a dramatic "shame on you!" And so it has gone. Alternating parcels of Five Minutes' Hate, interspersed with Republicans playing defense and scoring their own points. Occasional actual questions have slipped through the theater, but the overall episode has been largely useless. One portion of the proceedings that is worth your time is Barr's prepared opening remarks, which were released in written form last night, then relayed in person this afternoon:
Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus “Russiagate” scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today. So let me turn to that first. As I said in my confirmation hearing, the Attorney General has a unique obligation. He holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice. He must ensure that there is one standard of justice that applies to everyone equally and that criminal cases are handled even-handedly, based on the law and the facts, and without regard to political or personal considerations...Indeed, it is precisely because I feel complete freedom to do what I think is right that induced me serve once again as Attorney General. As you know, I served as Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush. After that, I spent many years in the corporate world. I was almost 70 years old, slipping happily into retirement as I enjoyed my grandchildren. I had nothing to prove and had no desire to return to government. I had no prior relationship with President Trump.
House Dems are now blaming Barr for Epstein's death in case you were wondering how this hearing was going.— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) July 28, 2020