Congressman Cohen Questions Attorney General Barr

July 28, 2020
Press Release
Oversight hearing probes efforts to protect the President

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, today questioned Attorney General William P. Barr at a Committee oversight hearing. It was Barr’s first appearance before the Committee since his appointment more than 17 months ago.

Congressman Cohen, noting that he is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, asked Barr to make Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband available to the committee. Barr gave him a noncommittal response.

In his questioning, Congressman Cohen asked Barr about the June 1 clearing of Lafayette Square, long recognized as a place for civic engagement and political demonstrations.  Barr was directing a federal force of 1,500 agents brought to Washington to confront racial justice protestors in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.  Congressman Cohen said:

“On the first day of June, the world watched in horror on live television as federal agents deployed by the Administration, and with you present telling them to ‘get it done,’ used force to clear Lafayette Park so that the President, with you and others at his side, could cross the park and have a photo op in front of St. John’s Church. This was anathema to the bishop of the diocese and to the rector of the church. It was also an affront to the Constitution and the American people. Given the timing and the coordinated attack against peaceful demonstrators, it strains credulity that this was not planned for use for political purposes.”

Congressman Cohen also asked Barr about the peaceful protests by mothers and veterans in Portland, Oregon, “not threatening the federal courthouse,” who have been “beaten and gassed.”

Congressman Cohen challenged Attorney General Barr on his misleading summary of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election and about his failure to provide an unredacted copy of the report to Congress.

Concluding his remarks, Congressman Cohen noted that he has introduced H. Res. 1032 calling for a review of Barr’s actions to determine whether his actions are impeachable offenses.

See Congressman Cohen’s exchange with Barr here.