A House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday featuring Attorney General William Barr descended into bickering over decorum — not to mention over whether to allow the star witness a five-minute break.
The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, clashed with chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) after Barr asked for a quick lunch break and was denied, and after Democrats repeatedly cut off Barr with a brisk, “Reclaiming my time!”
“For months you’ve tried to get the attorney general to come. He’s here. Why don’t you let him speak?” Jordan protested. “Why don’t you let him answer the questions, time after time? If you want the attorney general to come at least let him answer the questions and the accusations made against him.”
Nadler fired back: “The gentleman’s rudeness is not recognized!”
“Rudeness? The rudeness is on the other side” Jordan said. “You refuse to let the attorney general of the United States answer the questions posed to him.”
Jordan defended Barr after Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) cut off the attorney general when he told her he sympathized with cancer patients, as two of his own children had cancer, and after McBath again cut him off when Barr said he ordered renewed efforts to prosecute people who lie on gun background checks, as she insisted he should do.
Another blowup followed over whether Barr could have just a short break despite having had no lunch at nearly 4 p.m.
“Mr. Chairman, could we take a five minute break?” Barr asked Nadler.
Nadler, who arrived about an hour late to the hearing due to a minor car accident, refused.
“No!” Nadler said.
“I waited 45 — an hour for you this morning. I haven’t had lunch, I’d like to take a five minute break,” Barr said.
Nadler insisted the hearing was almost finished.
“You’re a real class act!” Barr shot back at Nadler.
Jordan, defending Barr, chimed in: “You just mentioned rudeness? I think we’re seeing it on display. Let’s let the attorney general have a break.”
Nadler finally relented and allowed a break.
Much of the hearing focused on Democratic claims that Barr abused his office by helping deploy federal agents to quell violent protests and that his department acted inappropriately in cases involving President Trump’s associates.
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