Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, raised her voice in anger Monday during Attorney General William Barr's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, when he argued with her over the facts of protesters being cleared from Lafayette Square near the White House on June 1.
The Trump administration came immediately under fire for clearing protesters from the square. Immediately afterward, President Donald Trump and several members of his staff walked across the square to the historic St. John's church that had been set on fire by protesters the night before. Trump held up a Bible in front of the church as photographers snapped pictures.
"Do you think that your response, do you think the response at Lafayette Square to tear gas, pepper spray and beat protesters and injure American citizens who were just simply exercising their First Amendment rights was appropriate?" Jayapal asked.
Barr immediately interrupted, saying that tear gas was not used, but Jayapal said that the claim had been disputed by fact-checkers.
"Mr. Barr, I just asked for a yes or no. So let me just tell you — I’m starting to lose my temper," Jayapal continued, her voice raising. "According to sworn testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee by Army National Guard Officer Adam Demarco, who was there, this was, quote, 'an unprovoked escalation.'"
Barr said Demarco was not involved in any decision-making.
Jayapal then brought up a phone call between Trump and state governors on which Barr was involved. "He said, the attorney general is here, Bill Barr, and we will activate Bill Barr and activate him strongly … Apparently the president believes you can be activated to implement the president’s agenda and dominate American people exercising first amendment rights if they’re protesting against him."
When Barr argued that Trump was referring to rioters and not peaceful protesters, Jayapal asked why then Barr did not take action against protesters in Michigan who "carried guns and Confederate flags and swastikas and called for the governor of Michigan to be beheaded and shot and lynched. … Somehow you didn’t know about it so you didn’t send federal agents in to do to the president’s supporters what you did to the president’s protesters."
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