EDITOR’S NOTE: When you’re a part of a band of former journalists, perusing the news of the day becomes a special treat. While we hear the same accounts of long, drawn-out hearings that everyone else hears on CNN or MSNBC, our views are often salted with our own memories, and those of our colleagues, who, in our younger lives, trod the courthouses and chambers of Congress in search of a story. Those memories are often discussed in private chats and can influence our view of current events. Here then, The Shinbone Star presents its view from the cheap seats.
Yesterday, in a far-reaching and combative hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr was grilled by Democrats on topics that ranged from accepting foreign intelligence to influence the 2020 presidential election; to commuting the sentence of convicted Trump adviser Roger Stone; to the limits of policing by local and federal authorities.
The hearing and Barr’s testimony produced a multitude of headlines and ended with little resolution.
I doubted there would be any big fireworks because these hearings usually degenerate into grandstanding by the members trying to get face time in their local TV markets. Hopefully, Democrats have figured out that social media precludes the need to grandstand for local news segments. If the members are smart, they’ll lay out a line of questioning and follow up like a tag team.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who was involved in a fender-bender on his way to the Hill, seemed to be in no mood for the type of shenanigans the minority displayed during Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings, though he surely knew it was coming.
The Democrats opening salvo was along the lines of, “you’re supposed to be the top law enforcement of the nation but you’re acting like the Don’s consigliere!
The Republicans talked about Carter Page. They showed a video of the rampaging hordes of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters and Antifa “looting, rioting,” etc. I didn’t see the video but heard about it on C-SPAN radio in my car.
I wish I could say I was riveted to the hearing but . . . I had it on in the background and every now and then I’d hear something that made me go, “Wait, what?”
Like this exchange:
Q: “AG Barr, Is it appropriate for the president to solicit foreign assistance in an election?”
Barr: “That depends. . . .”
Q: “Yes or no?”
Barr: “Well . . . no.”
You talk to enough people in enough adversarial settings, you learn the first answer is the truth.
“That Depends . . .”
That’s all I had to hear. That’s All Folks! These guys ain’t leaving quietly.
When I got home, I saw Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-Ohio) losing his shit because he’d just seen the Democratic game plan for the last part of the hearing. Dems were banging on Barr with a barrage of Yes/No questions and wouldn’t let him try and draw out his answers.
“Gym” was hollering about how Dems wanted the attorney general in the hearing room “for over a year and now you won’t let him answer the questions?”
At that point, Dems didn’t want answers from Barr, they were just gonna fuck him up.
Jordan and the GOP hollering about “decorum” will go down in the annals of histrionics history.
Democrats played a video of protests from both Venezuela and Portland. Gym, for some reason, asked whether the video was shot in the U.S. or Venezuela. “I just want a clarification,” Jordan said, looking as if he had the granddaddy of gotcha’s in his back pocket.
Nadler, in an epic Mortal Kombat FINISH HIM! move, told Jordan the video depicted both places — which was “precisely the point.”
BANG! Hearing adjourned.
Brian Beutler of Crooked Media opined: