U.S. Attorney General William Barr told “The Buck Sexton Show” on Wednesday that it is the first time in his career that he has witnessed the Democrat Party not willing to condemn the violence that continues to unfold on city streets in the country amid social unrest.
Barr’s wide-ranging interview with Sexton comes weeks after his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee where he clashed with Democrat lawmakers who focused, in part, on the use of federal agents in big cities. Mayors have publicly clashed with President Trump about the issue and have directed their own police force not to cooperate with these agents.
Barr said the federal government has been “expanding our federal task forces” to work with local law enforcement to pursue gangs and violent criminals. He said there are essentially two different issues unfolding in these cities: There are emboldened criminals using the unrest as an opportunity to commit crimes, and then there are the agitators who are acting out with an ideological bent.
He compared the situation in Chicago to Portland.
He said the unrest in Portland is “ideological in nature. These are far-left extremists who are violent and trying to use violence to achieve their purposes, which is to obviously create chaos that will, in turn, affect the political system. So this is driven by groups such as Antifa.”
Portland saw its 76th consecutive night of protests after another chaotic weekend when a riot was declared Saturday after these anarchists attempted to light the police union building on fire. Three officers were injured.
Sexton asked Barr if there were any updates regarding the investigation into the origins of the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. U.S. Attorney John Durham has been tapped by Barr to determine if there was any criminal activity within the CIA or FBI.
Barr assured Sexton that if “any criminal laws were violated” those involved would be held accountable without any considerations of the calendar before the 2020 election. He said the Justice Department would not “do anything for the purposes of effecting an election.”
He would not comment on how close the investigation is to its conclusion, but said, “there are some things you would like to get accomplished before the election as soon as we can.”
Barr sounded optimistic about the future of the FBI and the reforms taking place in the bureau. He said that he is personally keeping an eye on “things that I felt contributed to the abuses in the past.”
Barr said that he estimates that once the political season ends, the government will move more aggressively to put additional safeguards in place.
Sexton also brought up the clashes in various states over coronavirus guidelines that some residents call an affront by local governments on their First Amendment rights. Barr said the DOJ has taken an active role because the “Bill of Rights doesn’t take a holiday.”
He said the federal government has sued and threatened to sue these states, which often leads to a relatively swift resolution.
He said as therapeutics improve and the number of cases decreases, these states should be able to loosen some restrictions.
“And if we see restrictions that are continuing that are not reasonably justified, we’ll challenge,” he said.