Attorney General William Barr will defend the Trump administration’s deployment of federal agents in response to nationwide protests over racial injustice and his leadership of the Justice Department when he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to prepared remarks, Barr will dispute accusations that he has repositioned the Justice Department to favor President Donald Trump. Democrats plan to press him on a number of controversial steps, including his personal intervention in criminal cases involving Trump’s allies. “My decisions on criminal matters before the department have been my own, and they have been made because I believed they were right under the law and principles of justice,” Barr says. He condemns demonstrators for inciting violent clashes with federal agents in Portland and other cities and blames antipolice rhetoric for spikes in urban crime.
Trump administration officials say federal agents were sent to Oregon to protect federal property. Local officials have demanded they leave, questioning their authority to make arrests, sometimes while heavily camouflaged and hard to identify. Barr plans to decry George Floyd’s death while defending policing more broadly, reiterating his belief that law enforcement agencies aren’t plagued by systemic racism. The Justice Department is conducting a federal civil-rights investigation into Floyd’s killing. “Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr says.