Attorney General William Barr spent nearly five contentious hours before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, defending his independence and swatting down vicious attacks against his character. Democratic Chairman Jerry Nadler set a divisive tone right out of the gate.
"In your time at the department, you have aided and abetted the worst failings of the President," Nadler argued.
Barr fired back that he is pursuing justice, not doing the president's bidding.
"I'm supposedly punishing the president's enemies and helping his friends," responded Barr. "What enemies have I indicted? Point to one indictment that you feel is unmerited."
Other Democrats directly accused him of violating his oath.
"There's nothing more dangerous to our republic than an attorney general who refuses to uphold his oath, refuses to uphold and defend the Constitution and swears allegiance to just one person, Donald Trump. Sadly that's where we are today," accused Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX).
"My loyalty is to the Constitution," said Barr.
Republican Jim Jordan, the ranking minority member, said the Democrats' hostility is all about one thing: Barr's investigation of the Russia probe and his one-word description of the Obama administration's actions.
"Spying - that one word - that's why they're after you attorney general," said Jordan. "You said spying on a political campaign is a big deal. And since that day, since that day when you had the courage to state the truth, they've been attacking you ever since simply for telling the truth that the Obama-Biden administration spied on the Trump campaign."
New 'Unmasking' Investigation of Obama Admin
The attorney general made news at the hearing by revealing that a separate investigation is underway in the 'unmasking' of General Michael Flynn and others in surveillance reports by members of the Obama administration.
"I've asked another attorney general to look into unmasking because of the high number of unmaskings and some that do not readily appear to be in line of normal business," said Barr.
"Wait a minute, I want to be clear, so there is another investigation at the Justice Department on that issue right now?" asked Jordan. "Yes," said Barr.
Back in May of this year, Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell sent several Republican senators a list of former senior Obama administration officials who might have been involved in efforts to "unmask" Flynn during the presidential transition period. That list featured top figures, including then-Vice President Joe Biden.
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Barr also said peaceful protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd have been hijacked by violent rioters and anarchists.
And he defended sending federal agents to Portland and other cities.
"What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protest. It is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States," explained Barr.
Meanwhile, the Mueller report and voter fraud also came up in the hearings. In fact, one Republican lawmaker said Barr was blamed for so much, he's surprised Democrats didn't try to pin the COVID-19 pandemic on him.