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National
Here is William Barr’s opening statement at his Senate confirmation hearing
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Here is William Barr’s opening statement at his Senate confirmation hearing

What You Need to Know: William Barr

Here is William Barr’s opening statement at his Senate confirmation hearing

 Here is the prepared opening statement submitted by U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of his confirmation hearing.

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“Good morning, chairman Graham, ranking member Feinstein, and members of the committee:

“It is a privilege to come before you today. I am honored that President Trump has nominated me for the position of Attorney General. I regret that I come before this Committee at a time when much of our government is shut down. My thoughts today are with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Justice, and other federal workers, many of whom continue to perform their critical jobs.

>> William Barr confirmation: What time, what channel, how to watch attorney general confirmation hearing

“As you know, if the Senate confirms me, this would be the second time I would have the honor of serving in this office. During the four years I served under President George H.W. Bush, he nominated me for three successive positions in the Department – Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel; Deputy Attorney General; and, finally, Attorney General. This Committee unanimously approved me for each of those offices. 

“Twenty-seven years ago, at my confirmation hearing, I explained that the office of Attorney General is not like any other cabinet post; it is unique and has a critical role to play under our constitutional system. I said then:

The Attorney General has very special obligations, unique obligations. He holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is the Attorney General’s responsibility to enforce the law evenhandedly and with integrity. The Attorney General must ensure that the administration of justice – the enforcement of the law – is above and away from politics. Nothing could be more destructive of our system of government, of the rule of law, or the Department of Justice as an institution, than any toleration of political interference with the enforcement of the law.

“I believe this as strongly today as I did 27 years ago – indeed, more strongly. We live in time when the country is deeply divided. In the current environment, the American people have to know that there are places in the government where the rule of law – not politics – holds sway, and where they will be treated fairly based solely on the facts and an even-handed application of the law. The Department of Justice must be such a place.

“I did not pursue this position. When my name was first raised, I was reluctant to be considered. I am 68 years old, partially retired, and nearing the end of a long legal career. My wife and I were looking forward to a peaceful and cherished time with our daughters and grandchildren. And I have had this job before. But ultimately, I agreed to serve because I believe strongly in public service, I revere the law, and I love the Department of Justice and the dedicated professionals who serve there. I believe I can do a good job leading the Department in these times.

“If confirmed, I will serve with the same independence as in 1991. At that time, when President George H.W. Bush chose me, he sought no promises and asked only that his Attorney General act with professionalism and integrity. Likewise, President Trump has sought no assurances, promises, or commitments from me of any kind, either express or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the Department with professionalism and integrity. As Attorney General, my allegiance will be to the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people. That is how it should be. That is how it must be. And, if you confirm me, that is how it will be.

“Let me address a few matters I know are on the minds of some of the members of this Committee.

“First, I believe it is vitally important that the Special Counsel be allowed to complete his investigation. I have known Bob Mueller personally and professionally for 30 years. We worked closely together throughout my previous tenure at the Department of Justice under President Bush. We’ve been friends since. I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service. When he was named special counsel, I said that his selection was “good news” and that, knowing him, I had confidence he would handle the matter properly. I still have that confidence today.

“Given his public actions to date, I expect that the Special Counsel is well along in his investigation. At the same time, the President has been steadfast that he was not involved in any collusion with Russian interference in the election. I believe it is in the best interest of everyone – the President, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people – that this matter be resolved by allowing the Special Counsel to complete his work. The country needs a credible resolution of these issues. If confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation. I will follow the Special Counsel regulations scrupulously and in good faith, and on my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work.

“Second, I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the Special Counsel’s work. For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision.

“Third, I would like to briefly address the memorandum that I wrote last June. I wrote the memo as a former Attorney General who has often weighed in on legal issues of public importance, and I distributed it broadly so that other lawyers would have the benefit of my views. As I explained in a recent letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, my memo was narrow in scope, explaining my thinking on a specific obstruction-of-justice theory under a single statute that I thought, based on media reports, the Special Counsel might be considering. The memo did not address – or in any way question – the Special Counsel’s core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Nor did it address other potential obstruction-of-justice theories or argue, as some have erroneously suggested, that a President can never obstruct justice. I wrote it myself, on my own initiative, without assistance, and based solely on public information.

“I would also like to offer a few brief comments about what my priorities will be as Attorney General if I am confirmed.

“First, we must continue the progress we have made on violent crime while, at the same time, recognizing the changes that have occurred since I last served as Attorney General. Then, the nation was suffering from the highest violent crime rate in our history. My priority was to protect the public and attack those soaring crime rates by targeting chronic violent offenders and gangs. The crime rate has substantially fallen since 1992. The recently passed First Step Act, which I intend to diligently implement if confirmed, recognizes the progress we have made over the past three decades. Like Attorney General Sessions, I believe we must keep up the pressure on chronic, violent criminals. We cannot allow the progress we have made to be reversed. As Attorney General, I will continue to give priority to the joint efforts with our state and local partners to combat violent crime.

“In the past, I was focused on predatory violence. But today I am also concerned about another kind of violent crime. We are a pluralistic and diverse community and becoming ever more so. That is, of course, a good thing – indeed, it is part of our collective American identity. But we can only survive and thrive as nation if we are mutually tolerant of each other’s differences – whether they be differences based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political thinking. Each of us treasures our own freedom, but that freedom is most secure when we respect everyone else’s freedom. And yet we see some people violently attacking others simply because of their differences. We must have zero tolerance for such crimes. I am concerned that violence is also rearing its head in the political realm. In our system, political differences are to be mediated by free speech and elections. We must not allow political violence to supplant our political discourse, and I will make this a priority as Attorney General if confirmed.

“Next, the Department will continue to prioritize enforcing and improving our immigration laws. As a nation, we have the most liberal and expansive immigration laws in the world. We attempt to take in huge numbers equitably from all around the world. Legal immigration has historically been a huge benefit for our country. But most of the world’s population lives well below our own poverty level, and we cannot possibly accommodate the many millions more who would want to come here if we had no restrictions. As we open our front door, and try to admit people in an orderly way, we cannot allow others to flout our legal system by crashing in through the back door. Countenancing this lawlessness would be grossly unfair to those abiding by the rules. It would create unsafe conditions on our borders for all involved. It would permit an avenue for criminals and terrorists to gain access to our country. And, it would invite ever-greater and unsustainable influxes of those who enter our country illegally. In short, in order to ensure that our immigration system works properly, we must secure our nation’s borders, and we must ensure that our laws allow us to process, hold, and remove those who unlawfully enter.

“Finally, in a democracy like ours, the right to vote is paramount. In a period of great political division, one of the foundations of our Nation is our enduring commitment to the peaceful transition of power through elections. It is imperative that people have confidence in the outcome of elections. If confirmed, I will give priority to protecting the integrity of elections. I will build on the work already done by Special Counsel Mueller and current Department of Justice leadership and ensure that the full might of our resources are brought to bear against foreign persons who unlawfully interfere in our elections. I believe that our country must respond to any foreign interference with the strongest measures, and we must work with partners at the state level to ensure that our election infrastructure is completely protected. Fostering confidence in the outcome of elections also means ensuring that the right to vote is fully protected, as well as ensuring the integrity of elections.

“Let me conclude by making the point that, over the long run, the course of justice in our country has more to do with the character of the Department of Justice as an enduring institution than with the tenure of any particular Attorney General. Above all else, if confirmed, I will work diligently to protect the professionalism and integrity of the Department as an institution, and I will strive to leave it, and the nation, a stronger and better place.

“Thank you very much for your time today. I look forward to answering your questions.”

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  • President Donald Trump said Monday night that he will invoke an 1807 federal law that would allow him to deploy active-duty U.S. troops in response to protests in the wake of the death of a black man by a white police officer in Minnesota. “I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans,” Trump said in an address from the White House Rose Garden. 'We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,' he said. 'If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,' Trump said. He said he had already dispatched 'thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers' to Washington D.C. following a night that saw riots, the defacing of the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial and a fire in the church across the street from the White House. The law – called the Insurrection Act – would allow the president to send active-duty troops to a state where he believes it is necessary to quell an “insurrection” that threatens the state or its residents. Here’s what we know about the Insurrection Act: What does the act say? “If there is an insurrection in a State, the President, at the request of the State’s legislature, or Governor if the legislature cannot be convened, may call National Guards of other States into Federal service as well as use the Federal military to suppress the insurrection.” The act goes on to authorize the president to deploy the military (federal or state) whenever he believes it necessary “to suppress an insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.” “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages or rebellion against authority of the United States makes it impracticable to enforce the law of the United States in any State or territory by judicial proceedings, the President may call into Federal service the militia of any State and use the Federal military to enforce the laws or suppress the rebellion,” the act reads. The law also states the president can use the armed forces when there is an interference with federal or state law. The law may be used when an “insurrection:” “(a) … so hinders the execution of law of that State and of the United States and it deprives citizens of constitutional rights (e.g. due process); or (b) it opposes or obstructs the execution of laws or impedes the course of justice. In the event of the deprivation of rights, the State is deemed to have denied its citizens equal protection of laws.” Prior to invoking the Insurrection Act, the attorney general crafts and the president must issue a “proclamation to disperse.” The proclamation to disperse will “immediately order the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time,” according to the legislation. What does that mean? The Insurrection Act allows the president, at the request of the governor of a state or a state legislature, to federalize that state’s National Guard and to use the active-duty military in order to suppress an “insurrection” against that state's government. The act also allows a president to federalize the National Guard and send in active-duty troops, even if the governor or legislature does not ask for help, if it becomes impracticable to enforce federal laws through ordinary proceedings or if states are unable to safeguard its citizens’ civil rights. Has it been used before? Yes, but not very often, according to the Congressional Research Service. Some examples of when it was used include: Several times during the 1960s civil rights era by both President Dwight Eisenhower and President John Kennedy. By President George H.W. Bush following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, as business and homes were looted and during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
  • Police are investigating after the body of a man who had been shot was found in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.  Officers were sent to the Baker-Highland Connector at Piedmont Avenue about 1:40 p.m. Monday, according to Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery. There, they found the man dead, he said.  When police moved the man’s body, they discovered that he had been shot.  Witnesses told police the man occasionally sleeps under the overpass near the area. It is not clear what led to the man’s death.  An investigation is ongoing.  You may find this story and more at AJC.com. In other news: 
  • A man was killed Monday afternoon after gunfire erupted inside a DeKalb County Walmart, officials said.  The victim, a man in his late to mid-60s, died on the way to a hospital, according to DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent. His name was not released.  DeKalb police detained a man in his late 50s in connection with the incident, which happened at the store on Gresham Road. Officers were sent to the shopping center about 2 p.m. after someone reported gunshots, Vincent said. Investigators determined the incident began as a dispute between two men, she said. It is not clear what led to the dispute.  An investigation is ongoing.  Please return to AJC.com for updates. You may find this story and more at AJC.com. In other news: 
  • Protesters caused an estimated $10 million to $15 million in property damage in Buckhead this weekend, a community group said Monday. Property damage was assessed for a four-mile stretch of Peachtree Road between Wieuca Road and Peachtree Battle Avenue, said Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell. The estimate did not include losses sustained from looting. City officials on Monday could not provide an estimate for damages downtown. Marches against police violence turned chaotic when some demonstrators began smashing windows, setting fires and looting businesses. The damage was primarily sustained by businesses with storefronts directly on Peachtree Road, but some businesses located inside Phipps Plaza were also targeted, Massell said. “They did break into the Gucci store in Phipps and took some merchandise, but it was limited to the display area and was not inside the store,” Massell said. Central Atlanta Progress has not completed an estimate for downtown, said president A.J. Robinson. City officials declined to provide a cost estimate. The Atlanta Police Department did not respond to a request for an estimate. The state Department of Insurance won’t have a cost estimate for riot damage for several weeks, after insurance companies report the number and total value of claims, said spokesman Weston Burleson. Most standard business owners policies include coverage for events related to civil unrest, riots and vandalism, said Bill Davis, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade association. These policies typically come with special riders for riot coverage, even if the applicant does not specifically request it, he said. They can also include business interruption coverage for a business’s downtime caused by vandals. Some policies require policyholders to buy additional coverage for plate glass windows, Davis said. Stolen goods and other items, like furniture, liquor, glassware and office supplies should be covered by a business owner’s personal property policy, Davis said. You may find this story and more at AJC.com.
  • A South Florida prosecutor was fired Monday for a social media post that compared protesters to anmals. Amy Bloom, an eight-year veteran of the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, wrote the post a day after protestors clashed with police in Fort Lauderdale, the Sun-Sentinel reported. She quickly deleted the post, but the image was captured and shared with other lawyers in Broward County, the newspaper reported. “When will people learn that their criminal acts and obnoxious protesting actually gets you nowhere?' Bloom allegedly wrote on Facebook. 'Act civilized and maybe things will change. I’ve never seen such animals except at the zoo.” In the post, Bloom added that her criticisms applied to everyone, regardless of race, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The demonstrators were marching to protest the death of George Floyd, 46, a Minneapolis resident who died May 25 after a police officer kept his knees on the man’s neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest. In a statement, the State Attorney’s Office announced Bloom’s firing. “Following our review of the Facebook posting by Ms. Amy Bloom, we have made the decision to terminate her effective immediately,' the statement said. 'The views expressed in that posting are entirely inconsistent with the ideals and principles of the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the duties and responsibilities of an assistant state attorney.” Bloom returned to Facebook to clarify and apologize for her post, the Sun-Sentinel reported. “I made a post and realized that it could be misinterpreted, so I deleted it within seconds,” she wrote. “I believe in justice for all and that ALL lives matter. I don’t look at anybody by their color shape or size ... My post specifically referenced the people who took advantage of the opportunity to protest. I respect the people who have a mission and wanted to accomplish it. It is hard to respect those who are taking it away with violence and destruction.”
  • Racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed,' actor, Will Smith. It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, following two nights of vandalism and property destruction in downtown and Buckhead to the north, as well as all across our nation., I am driving through along Marietta Street, passing CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park. The sidewalks still hold lingering protesters, mostly young, the crowd is very diverse, and most are quietly exercising their right to peaceful assembly. There are really only two sounds permeating the area, both oddly out of place. Power drills at small businesses in almost every direction boarding up their windows, and helicopters overhead. And until the end of dusk and into nightfall, those sounds would remain loudest. On Monday, June 1, restaurants and bars across Georgia were given permission, while following a lengthy and enhanced set of sanitation guidelines to begin the process of re-opening. Roughly 46 percent of the unemployed across Georgia since mid-March are employed in the hospitality industry.  In Atlanta and elsewhere, thousands are legitimately protesting the recent and unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as many more who preceded them. Following months of near quarantine and lock-down, which has the nation on edge, minority communities are disproportionately being impacted by this pandemic, with a near majority of serious cases, hospitalizations and deaths arising primarily in under-served, black and brown communities. Only nursing homes and the medically fragile are succumbing in greater numbers to this virus. And in light of little being documentable fact and with conspiracy theories run amok, some begin to believe that the virus was intended to kill black people. But after several nights of intentionally civil protests turning uncivil, with property damage, riots, and violence escalating, I will also share the observation of many protesters, media on the ground and local/state law enforcement. Most of the bad actors leading the charge of looting, defacing public property and physical assaults on police and National Guard members are not from around here. On Friday evening as 10 Atlanta police squad cars were destroyed and set ablaze, 75 were arrested. The largest cluster of zip codes among those detained hailed from Chicago. All three nights, the crowd shifted from young, diverse and casually dressed, with shorts, flip flops and tennis shoes among the majority (wearing small masks as well), to what appear to be professional agitators, frequently dressed head to toe in black, with hoodies and bandanas, wraps or masks often leaving only their eyes visible. And instead of casual footwear, military issue boots with steel toes, all the better for breaking windows and windshields. George Floyd was tragically murdered on Monday, as word spread across the nation on Tuesday, and yet we would somehow believe that Atlanta area college students and Millenials who were justifiably angered thought to hit Ebay or Amazon to order their gas masks, incendiary devices and large cans of spray paint by Wednesday via their Amazon Prime, for those tools of anarchy to arrive just in time for the first march and protests of Friday afternoon? Sunday evening, while being interviewed by WSB-TV Action News, Ambassador Andrew Young, himself a lion of the Civil Rights movement spoke supportively to the protestors, while also noting that those seeking to become catalysts for anarchy and greater unrest were both usurping their message and platform, as well as inadvertently providing crowd cover for the anarchists. As is often the case, Ambassador Young made a very salient point. In media photos and across social media, protestors with gas masks were visible, particularly after dark, and one smaller female protester, wearing a gas mask, picked up a tear gas canister, emitting tear gas, and tossed it back at local and state law enforcement who had just set off the canister, after the 9 p.m. curfew went into effect. When this ends, hopefully soon, the costs of over-time and National Guard deployment necessary to quell riots and secure safety will come due, and those costs will be substantial. As we are still in this pandemic indefinitely, with government revenues gutted at all levels, where do you think we will have to go for budget cuts?  We don't have another generation to deal with these challenges, which are both systemic and real, now is the time to put the best minds in our nation together to re-build government standards, including policing, which do not treat or protect you differently simply because of your race, culture, gender, background or income. We can do this, and it's well past time.