BBC, July 28, 2020
US Attorney General William Barr has defended the deployment of federal agents to cities, saying they are needed to counter violent rioters.
In heated testimony to Congress, Mr Barr said protesters in Portland, Oregon, are committing “an assault on the government of the United States”.
The Democrat-led hearing covered a wide range of controversial actions from Mr Barr’s Department of Justice (DOJ).
This was Mr Barr’s first committee testimony in his 17 months on the job.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler was among the Democrats to accuse the DOJ of sending agents to an ongoing protest at a federal courthouse in Portland – as well other cities in an action dubbed “Operation Legend” by the White House – to aid Mr Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Several mayors of major US cities have told the federal government to immediately withdraw from the targeted cities.
“The president wants footage for his campaign ads and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,” Mr Nadler said at the end of his five minutes of questioning.
“Now you are projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives. Shame on you Mr Barr. Shame on you.”
The committee’s top Republican Jim Jordan played an eight-minute video montage of news reports showing protesters violently clashing with police during ongoing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
“We are on the defence,” Mr Barr told the committee. “We are not out looking for trouble,” he said, adding that federal police are not attempting to “suppress demonstrators”.