Barr Repeats Trump Falsehoods in Congressional Testimony


Mr. Barr’s timeline of two months of nonstop riots in Portland is also hyperbolic. Protests have ranged in size and violence levels, and police have not declared the situation a riot every night. The Oregonian also reported that the courthouse was not a target of protests until July, when federal agents were dispatched to the city.

What Mr. Barr SAID

“The problem with the testing system was a function of President Obama’s mishandling of the C.D.C. and his efforts to centralize everything in the C.D.C.”

False. Mr. Barr, like Mr. Trump, was likely referring to a “draft guidance” issued in 2014 by the Obama administration to regulate laboratory-developed tests necessary to track a pandemic. But the policy was never finalized or enforced, undermining the argument that it was to blame for the scattered and insufficient delivery of coronavirus tests this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention botched the development of its own tests, leaving the United States initially blind to the virus’s spread and behind other nations. (The Justice Department plays no role in procuring or distributing coronavirus tests.)

What Mr. Barr SAID

“The historical building on Lafayette Park was burned down. St. John’s was set on fire.”

This is exaggerated. When protesters gathered on June 1 in Lafayette Square, outside of the White House, as part of demonstrations in response to the killing of George Floyd by a police officer, authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters. Mr. Trump then walked across the park for a photo op in front of St. John’s Church. A day earlier, a small basement fire had been set in the church, but it was contained.

A spokesman for Washington D.C.’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said that damage from the fires was largely negligible throughout the protests and that no buildings were permanently destroyed as many had sprinkler systems installed.

Mr. Barr may have been referring to a utility and bathroom facility in Lafayette Park that was badly damaged, but not “burned down.” But other than its location in the park, the spokesman said, it had no historical significance.

What Mr. Barr SAid

“Well, first, it is my understanding that no tear gas was used on Monday, June 1.”

This is misleading. The United States Park Police has said it did not use chloroacetophenone or CS gas, one of the most common types of tear gas. But it did use “smoke canisters and pepper balls” — and specifically products made by the PepperBall company — on protesters in Lafayette Square that day.





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