U.S. Attorney General William Barr clashed with Democrats as he appeared before a House Judiciary Committee hearing for the first time in his tenure as attorney general on Tuesday, July 28.

Barr defended his actions in dealing with the protests and riots, claiming legitimate protests in America have been “hijacked” by radical left-wing groups such as Black Lives Matter and antifa, as well as other extremist groups, with the specific intention of inciting violence.

Since the death of African American George Floyd two months earlier in Minneapolis, riots and protests have been springing up all over the country.

Liberal lawmakers accused the attorney general of politicizing the Justice Department after he sent federal agents to cities to help curb the violence, reported Breitbart.

“The protesters aren’t mobs—they’re mothers and veterans and mayors,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House said. De-escalation, not control should be your main role said Nadler; “Instead you use pepper spray and truncheons on American citizens.”

“Since when is it okay to try to burn down a federal court?” Barr asked the committee, after noting that U.S. Marshalls have a duty to protect federal property.

“I want to address a different breakdown in the rule of law that we have witnessed over the past two months,” Barr said. “In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims.”

“The current situation in Portland is a telling example,” Barr said. “Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters has laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property.”

“The rioters have come equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosive devices. Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel charged with a defensive mission: to protect the courthouse,” Barr said.

“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,” said Barr. “Every member of this committee regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump administration should condemn violence against federal officers and the destruction of federal property,” he said.

Barr then gave more details of what had transpired recently in the Portland riots. “In recent nights, rioters have barricaded the front door of the courthouse, pried plywood off the windows with crowbars, and thrown commercial-grade fireworks into the building in an apparent attempt to burn it down with federal personnel inside,” Barr said.

“The rioters have started fires outside the building, and then systematically attacked federal law enforcement officers who attempt to put them out—for example, by pelting the officers with rocks, frozen water bottles, cans of food, and balloons filled with fecal matter,” Barr said. “A recent video showed a mob enthusiastically beating a deputy U.S. marshal who was trying to protect the courthouse—a property of the United States government, funded by this Congress—from further destruction.”

“A number of federal officers have been injured, including one severely burned by a mortar-style firework and three who have suffered serious eye injuries and maybe permanently blind,” said Barr.

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