WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee faced off with US Attorney General William Barr Tuesday over the use of federal law enforcement officers nationwide.
Democrats say the federal law enforcement show of force in Portland is purely political.
Committee chairman Jerry Nadler accused Barr of trying to silence peaceful protesters.
“The President wants footage for his campaign ads and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,” the New York Democrat said. “You did it in Lafayette Square and you expanded to Portland and now you’re projecting fear and violence nationwide.”
California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said the Trump Administration is intentionally fueling confrontations “to divert attention from catastrophic failure in dealing with the COVID-19 situation.”
Democrats said the duty to police US cities should be left to local governments, but Barr said local Portland officials have failed to maintain law and order.
“In Portland,” he said, “the courthouse is under attack.”
He and GOP lawmakers say protesters in Portland have not been peaceful.
“They have set fires, thrown things, used explosives, injured, perhaps permanently blinding 3 federal police officers with lasers,” Barr said.
Texas Republican Louie Gohmert said there were “so many people hurt, injured and killed at ‘peaceful protests.'”
Barr said the federal officers deployed to other US cities are unrelated to the issues in Portland. He said those officers are dealing with violent crime, including murders and shootings.