And after all, isn't that what this country is supposed to be about? The idea that citizens can come together, choose representatives, debate issues and policies, come to understandings or, failing that, litigate those matters according to the laws and Constitution? It's a matter of reasoned discourse, as adults. The alternative is ... civil war. We tried that once. It's a bad idea.
But that's what Dems want to try again. They showed that intent when AG Barr showed up to testify before Nadler's committee in the House--and I use that phraseology deliberately. That was on July 28th. Rather than engage with Barr, Nadler and the Dems simply harangued Barr in the crudest and most childish manner--even denying him a 5 minute potty break toward the end of the session.
So, yesterday Assistant AG Stephen E. Boyd sent a letter to Nadler. Boyd's letter responded to Nadler's demand that three DoJ officials show up before Nadler to be grilled: Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal and U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington. Boyd--beyond doubt at the direction of AG Barr--refused to send those three DoJ officials to be abused by Nadler. In doing so Boyd specifically cited the treatment of Barr by Nadler and the Dems, pointing out that that treatment had violated the Constitutional conditions under which Congress is authorized to conduct oversight hearings--they had shown no interest at all in obtaining testimony to assist in their legislative duties:
Unfortunately, when given the opportunity to obtain information from the head of the Department of Justice about precisely these matters, many Committee Members chose instead to use their allotted time to air grievances. Rather than attempt to obtain information from the Department that would assist the Committee in recommending legislation to the House, many Members of the majority devoted their time entirely towards scolding and insulting the Attorney General. These Members refused to allow the Attorney General to respond to their accusations or to answer questions asked for rhetorical effect. As the New York Times reported, “Democrat after Democrat posed questions to Mr.Barr only to cut him off when he tried to reply, substituting their own replies for his.” See Barr Testimony: Highlights of Combative Hearings on Protests, Stone Case and More, N.Y. Times (July 28, 2020) In what can only be viewed as a coordinated effort to muzzle the Attorney General the Members repeatedly invoked the phrase, “reclaiming my time,” which they employed more than 30 times when the Attorney General tried to respond. All told, when the Attorney General tried to address the Committee's questions, he was interrupted and silenced in excess of 70 times. Some Members were quite candid that they had no interest in actually hearing from the Attorney General. One Member interrupted him and admitted “Well I don't want you to tell your story.” Oversight of the Department of Justice, Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. ( July 28, 2020). Another advised, “You will have a chance to comment after your testimony is done here today.” Id. Despite the Attorney General appearing in person and taking questions from all Members who were present, he was denied the most basic opportunities to respond.
As the Supreme Court recently reiterated, the purpose of a hearing by the House is to obtain the information necessary to legislate“ wisely and effectively,” and the questioning is required to serve a legitimate legislative purpose. See Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 140 S. Ct. 2019 2020). Yet the House's so-called oversight hearing” of the Attorney General did preciously [sic] little to advance any legitimate interest since the Attorney General was repeatedly denied the opportunity to provide information to the Committee. We very much regret that the Committee did not elect to engage in a meaningful, good-faith effort to obtain information and views from the Attorney General while he was present and prepared to testify. Having squandered its opportunity to conduct a meaningful oversight hearing with the Attorney General, it remains unclear how further public spectacles with other Department officials would now—a mere 14 legislative days since the Attorney General's hearing--advance the Committee's legitimate oversight efforts.
What ever gave the Dems the idea that Bill Barr would put up with childish antics? That he would play into their dreams of show trial type hearings?