Home / US / Transcript: Attorney General William Barr on “Face the Nation”, June 7, 2020

Transcript: Attorney General William Barr on “Face the Nation”, June 7, 2020



The following is a transcript of an interview with Attorney General William Barr that aired on Face the Nation on June 7, 2020.


MARGARET BRENNAN: A senior government official told our CBS employee David Martin that the president requested 10,000 active troops to be sent to the streets of America at a meeting in the White House on Monday morning. Is that correct?

BARR: No, that’s completely wrong. That is completely wrong. Sunday night,–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Didn̵

7;t the President ask for that?

BARR: No, he didn’t ask for that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What happened?

BARR: I came to a meeting on Monday morning. The night before had been the most violent, as one of the police officers, the DC police, told us. It was the most violent day in Washington in 30 years, which the media didn’t report very well. And there had been an uprising right at Lafayette Park. I was called and asked if I would coordinate the federal civilian authorities and if the Department of Defense would provide any support I needed or if we would need to protect federal property in the White House, federal personnel. The decision was made to keep some regular troops nearby. But everyone agreed that the use of regular troops was a last resort and that it should be as long as things can be controlled with other resources. I felt that the Minister of Defense felt we had sufficient resources and did not have to deploy federal troops. But if we did, we wanted to have her nearby.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what …

BARR: There never was – the president never asked or suggested that we had to deploy regular troops at that time. It has been done from time to time in our history. We try to avoid it. And I’m glad that we were able to avoid it on this occasion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So active troops were put on standby. They were not used. The 82nd Airborne was put on standby,

BARR: So the …

MARGARET BRENNAN: – but not sent to the streets.

BARR: About the 82nd Airborne Military Police were brought into the area. But they weren’t brought to DC.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Which part – I just want to make sure that we are here exactly, which part of this conversation, how it was passed on to CBS and other news organizations, is wrong? Didn’t the president demand active troops? Did–

BARR: Well, your question to me recently was whether he asked for her on the street, if he asked for her in DC. No, we were on standby if they were needed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. What they were put into standby mode. They were not used.

BARR: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In our reporting, we were also told that you, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and General Milley, were all against the idea of ​​actually sending these active troops onto the street. Is that correct?

BARR: I think our position was widespread, namely that they should only be used if – as a last resort – and we didn’t think we would need them. I think everyone was on the same page.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think the president has the authority to unilaterally deploy troops on active duty if the governors are against it?

BARR: Oh, absolutely. According to the anti-insurgency law, the president can deploy regular troops to suppress riots. The Confederate – the confederation in our country rejected the use of federal troops to restore order and suppress an uprising. Therefore, the federal government sometimes does not listen to governors in certain circumstances.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The last time this happened was the LA riots in 1992 when the governor of California asked about active troops.

BARR: That’s right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You say your understanding and the law as you interpret it, and would support the President’s ability to deploy active-duty troops on American roads, even if governors object?

BARR: It has happened many times. And the answer to that is yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you support that?

BARR: Well, it depends on the circumstances. I was involved in the LA riots and the Rodney King affair. We tried to use non-military forces. I sent 2,000 federal law enforcement officers there in one day, but it was overwhelming. (00:04:34) And the National Guard couldn’t handle it. And Governor Pete Wilson asked for federal troops.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And he asked about them.

BARR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is an important distinction.

BARR: Or he approved the use of federal troops, but these troops were also on standby.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I think a number of people would be surprised to hear, and it has been reported that you have spoken out generally against sending troops on active duty. You say you would support it?

BARR: As a last resort.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When the Secretary of Defense, who has now publicly said that he is against the application of the Uprising Act, said to the President at this Monday meeting, what did you say to the President?

BARR: I don’t think the Secretary of Defense said he was against it. I think he said it was a last resort and he didn’t think it was necessary. I think we all agree that this is a last resort, but it is ultimately the President’s decision. The reporting is completely wrong in this regard.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think there is systemic racism in law enforcement?

BARR: I think racism still exists in the United States, but I don’t think the law enforcement system is systemically racist. I understand the distrust of the African American community in the history of this country. I think we have to recognize that our institutions have been explicitly racist for most of our history. I think we have been in a phase of reforming our institutions since the 1960s, ensuring that they are in sync with our laws and do not fight rearguard action to impose inequalities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you think that works?

BARR: I think I think reform is a difficult task, but I think it works and progress has been made. I think one of the best examples is the military. The military was previously explicitly a racist institution. And now I think it’s up to you to bring the races together and create equal opportunities. I think law enforcement went through the same process.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think there should be a change in the rules, reduced immunity to pursue some of the bad cops?

BARR: I don’t think you have to reduce immunity to run after the bad bull, because that would surely cause the police to withdraw. Police are the toughest job in the country. And I – and I honestly think that the general majority of the police are good people. They are civic people who believe in serving the public. You do it bravely. You are doing this sincerely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the bad cops.

BARR: I think there are cases of bad bulls. And I think we have to be careful when we automatically assume that an individual’s actions necessarily mean that his organization is lazy. All organizations have people who behave badly, and sometimes you have to be careful when attributing this to the entire organization and when it really is a flawed member who doesn’t follow the rules.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But not opening the pattern or exercise exam in a place like Minneapolis that has questions about the broader policing issues, wasn’t it just one officer, wouldn’t that answer that question?

BARR: Well, that’s exactly the reaction that I think has been a problem in the past. That is, just responding to this incident by examining the department immediately doesn’t necessarily improve the situation. But I would say that the governor primarily announced an investigation by the police department. The governor, governor Walz, a democratic governor, is examining the police department. The Attorney General of Minnesota is investigating the police department. We are ready to act when we think it is necessary. However, I don’t think it is justified to initiate a pattern or exercise exam at this point. Another thing is that we have to look at some of the evidence. I mean, people, you know, the fact is that the criminal justice system responded to it immediately at both the state and federal levels. And we quickly went ahead with our investigation. But we still need to examine what types of violence policies are used in this department, what the training was like, and things like that. We cannot do that overnight.

* END OF PART ONE *

+++

* BEGINNING OF PART TWO *

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about some of the events of the week. Lafayette Park was liberated by demonstrators on Monday. You talked about it. The federal agents who were there will contact you. Did you think it was appropriate to use smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper balls and projectiles on apparently peaceful demonstrators?

BARR: They weren’t peaceful demonstrators. And that’s one of the big lies that the media seem to perpetuate at this point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Three of my CBS colleagues were there. We spoke to them.

BARR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You haven’t heard any warnings. They saw no demonstrators …

BARR: There were three warnings.

MARGARET BRENNAN: – Throw everything.

BARR: There were three warnings. But let’s get back to the reason why we took these measures. There were violent riots in Lafayette Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, during which the park police were constantly attacked behind their bike rack fences. Things reached a crescendo on Sunday. The officers were beaten up with bricks. Crowbars were used to break the paving stones in the park and they were thrown at the police. Not only were fires set in St. John’s Church, but a historic building in Lafayette was burned down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Those were things looters did.

BARR: No looters, they were – those were – the violent rioters who ruled Lafayette Park.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what I’m asking …

BARR: You broke into the finance department.

MARGARET BRENNAN: – On Monday, when it was a peaceful protest.

BARR: I will go into this because this has been completely hidden by the media. They broke into the finance department and injured the police. Tonight,–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sunday night?

BARR: On Sunday evening, the park police prepared a plan to clear H Street and move it around the White House so they could build a more permanent fence on Lafayette.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You approved that on Sunday evening?

BARR: No. The park police alone determined on Sunday evening that this is the right approach. When I got there on Monday, it was clear to me that we had to increase the size of this side of Lafayette Park and move it out one block. This decision was made by me in the morning. It was communicated to all police agencies, including the Metropolitan Police, at 2:00 p.m. this day. The effort was to shift the scope by one block, and this had to be done if we had enough people to do it. And, as I said, this decision was communicated to the police at 2:00 p.m. The operation was carried out by the park police. The park police faced a crowd that they thought was very loud and not compliant. And projectiles were hurled at the police. And at that point there was no answer …

MARGARET BRENNAN: On Monday, you say there were projectiles …

BARR: There was on Monday.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As I said, three of my colleagues were there.

BARR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You haven’t seen projectiles being thrown …

BARR: I was there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: – when that happened.

BARR: I was there. You were thrown. I saw her thrown.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you think that what the police did with tear gas and projectiles was appropriate?

BARR: Here’s what the media lacks. This was not an operation to respond to that particular amount. It was an operation to shift the scope by one block.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And do you think the methods they used are appropriate?

BARR: When they met resistance, yes. They announced three times. They didn’t move. By the way, no tear gas was used. The tear gas was used on Sunday when they had to vacate H Street so the fire department could enter to save St. John’s Church. Then tear gas was used.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There were chemical irritants that the park police said …

BARR: No, there were no chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant.

It is not chemical.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Pepper spray, you say it was used …

BARR: Pepper balls. Pepper balls.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, and you think that was appropriate. What I want to show you is what many people at home who saw this on TV saw and how they perceived events. While the president says he appreciates peaceful protest, this crowd is around the same time …

BARR: Well, six minutes – six minutes difference …

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, at about the same time, the area is being liberated with a little violence from apparently peaceful demonstrators. And after the speech ends, the President walks out of the White House into the same area where the demonstrators were and stands for a photo op outside the church where the demonstrators were. These events look very connected to people at home. Was this the right message for Americans in an environment where the broader debate about persistent use of force by law enforcement is at stake?

BARR: Well, the news is sometimes communicated by the media. I haven’t seen a video in the media about what happened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But – but this confluence of events –

BARR: All I heard – all I heard were comments about how peaceful demonstrators were. I have not heard that 150 police officers were injured and many were taken to hospital with concussions. So it was not a peaceful protest. We had to take control of Lafayette Park and we had to do it as soon as we were able to.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you understand how these events seem connected? The timing of this–

BARR: Well, it’s the media’s job to tell the truth. You were not connected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I’m asking you. When you gave the green light to these measures, did you know that the president would go to the same area for a photo op?

BARR: I gave the green light at two o’clock. Obviously, I didn’t know that the President would speak later that day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You had no idea?

BARR: No. No I did not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: See …

BARR: The release was given at two o’clock. And to do it as soon as we were able to move the scope from H Street to I Street.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We are both Catholic. I know you’re paying attention. You are a pious Catholic. Archbishop Gregory of Washington condemned what happened by gassing peaceful demonstrators.

BARR: There was no gas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is – does – is what we saw there, what you meant when you called governors on the phone and said you should dominate the streets? Is that what law enforcement is supposed to prevent?

BARR: No, on the contrary. My point to the governors and what I said was that when you are dealing with civil unrest, it is important to have adequate forces on hand so that you can control events and not be controlled by events. And that it is more dangerous for everyone if these wild hand-to-hand battles with sparse police lines chase demonstrators with batons and it is important that adequate forces are on the street. So we encourage them, where they were thin, to call the National Guard, if necessary, to restore order. I talked about that. I would say that this special police force has to move demonstrators, sometimes peaceful demonstrators, for a short distance to achieve public security. And that’s exactly what was done here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So there was nothing you thought should have been done in retrospect?

BARR: Well, you know, I – I didn’t examine the events in detail afterwards, but I generally think you had qualified law enforcement officers with signs that warned and slowly moved a line. They had mounted officers who were moving slowly and instructing people to move. And most people stuck to it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Mr. Attorney General, we have more questions for you, but I was told that we ran out of time.

BARR: Thanks.


Below is a complete transcript of Margaret Brennan’s conversation with Attorney General William Barr

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Attorney General, if you are ready, let’s dive in. Thank you for taking the time for us.

GENERAL LAWYER WILLIAM BARR: Nice to be here. Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A senior government official told our CBS employee David Martin that the president requested 10,000 active troops to be sent to the streets of America at a meeting in the White House on Monday morning. Is that correct?

BARR: No, that’s completely wrong. That is completely wrong. Sunday night,–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Didn’t the President ask for that?

BARR: No, he didn’t ask for that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What happened?

BARR: I came to a meeting on Monday morning. The night before had been the most violent, as one of the police officers, the DC police, told us. It was the most violent day in Washington in 30 years, which the media didn’t report very well. And there had been an uprising right at Lafayette Park. I was called and asked if I would coordinate the federal civilian authorities and if the Department of Defense would provide any support I needed or if we would need to protect federal property in the White House, federal personnel. The decision was made to keep some regular troops nearby. But everyone agreed that the use of regular troops was a last resort and that it should be as long as things can be controlled with other resources. I felt that the Minister of Defense felt we had sufficient resources and did not have to deploy federal troops. But if we did, we wanted to have her nearby.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what …

BARR: There never was – the president never asked or suggested that we had to deploy regular troops at that time. It has been done from time to time in our history. We try to avoid it. And I’m glad that we were able to avoid it on this occasion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So active troops were put on standby. They were not used. The 82nd Airborne was put on standby,

BARR: So the …

MARGARET BRENNAN: – but not sent to the streets.

BARR: About the 82nd Airborne Military Police were brought into the area. But they weren’t brought to DC.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Which part – I just want to make sure that we are here exactly, which part of this conversation, how it was passed on to CBS and other news organizations, is wrong? Didn’t the president demand active troops? Did–

BARR: Well, your question to me recently was whether he asked for her on the street, if he asked for her in DC. No, we were on standby if they were needed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. What they were put into standby mode. They were not used.

BARR: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In our reporting, we were also told that you, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and General Milley, were all against the idea of ​​actually sending these active troops onto the street. Is that correct?

BARR: I think our position was widespread, namely that they should only be used if – as a last resort – and we didn’t think we would need them. I think everyone was on the same page.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think the president has the authority to unilaterally deploy troops on active duty if the governors are against it?

BARR: Oh, absolutely. According to the anti-insurgency law, the president can deploy regular troops to suppress riots. The Confederate – the confederation in our country rejected the use of federal troops to restore order and suppress an uprising. Therefore, the federal government sometimes does not listen to governors in certain circumstances.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The last time this happened was the LA riots in 1992 when the governor of California asked about active troops.

BARR: That’s right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You say your understanding and the law as you interpret it, and would support the President’s ability to deploy active-duty troops on American roads, even if governors object?

BARR: It has happened many times. And the answer to that is yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you support that?

BARR: Well, it depends on the circumstances. I was involved in the LA riots and the Rodney King affair. We tried to use non-military forces. I sent 2,000 federal law enforcement officers there in one day, but it was overwhelming. And the National Guard couldn’t handle it. And Governor Pete Wilson asked for federal troops.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And he asked about them.

BARR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is an important distinction.

BARR: Or he approved the use of federal troops, but these troops were also on standby.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I think a number of people would be surprised to hear, and it has been reported that you have spoken out generally against sending troops on active duty. You say you would support it?

BARR: As a last resort.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What’s the last resort?

BARR: Restoring law and order in a situation that is out of control and in which life and property are at risk. And that since the earliest days of the republic. General Washington, the president who led the army in his government’s first term to quell rebellions and uprisings in Pennsylvania. So it was done regularly. The last time I was AG, we did it twice. We did it in the Virgin Islands. The governor was against us at that time, but there was a complete breakdown of law and order. Life was in danger, and we sent the 82nd Airland Military Police along with US marshals and FBI agents, and then we did it in California. I would also like to point out that this was done during the civil rights era in places like Selma, Alabama and other places to integrate schools. The governors stood in the door. The governors did not agree to the use of federal troops to enforce civil rights in the south.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When the Secretary of Defense, who has now publicly said that he is against the application of the Uprising Act, said to the President at this Monday meeting, what did you say to the President?

BARR: I don’t think the Secretary of Defense said he was against it. I think he said it was a last resort and he didn’t think it was necessary. I think we all agree that this is a last resort, but it is ultimately the President’s decision. The reporting is completely wrong in this regard.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think there is systemic racism in law enforcement?

BARR: I think racism still exists in the United States, but I don’t think the law enforcement system is systemically racist. I understand the distrust of the African American community in the history of this country. I think we have to recognize that our institutions have been explicitly racist for most of our history. They denied the same rights to African Americans.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where are you now?

BARR: First under slavery, then under Jim Crow. I think since the abolition of the Jim Crow Laws, which were only really fully suppressed in the 1960s, I think since that time, and as a result, the civil rights movement has been largely you will fight against those institutions that imposed racism. I think we have been in a phase of reforming our institutions since the 1960s, ensuring that they are in sync with our laws and do not fight rearguard action to impose inequalities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you think that works?

BARR: I think I think reform is a difficult task, but I think it works and progress has been made. I think one of the best examples is the military. The military was previously explicitly a racist institution. And now I think it is in the avant-garde to bring the races together and create equal opportunities. I think law enforcement went through the same process. And although it is a difficult process and law enforcement in this country is not monolithic, we have 50 states in many local jurisdictions. There is no denying that progress is being made. We have a generation of police-police leaders in this country, many of whom are now African-American in our cities and are committed to fair justice and fair police work. And we worked hard on it. And I would say, you know, the President was up front on this issue before this happened. Not only did he enact the First Step Act to bring justice to the African-American community within the criminal justice system, he also set up the first police and judicial commission since Lyndon Johnson to address these issues. And they worked on these issues. And in the coming days and weeks, we will expand these efforts and make specific suggestions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I suppose it is not a monolithic system, but the Department of Justice is the backbone for many of these local governments. On the issue of biased policing, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice has only launched a model or practice investigation against law enforcement agencies. The last three administrations together had almost 70. Why wasn’t this problem a major priority?

BARR: Well folks – if you are skeptical that progress has been made and you have to ask yourself what the results of these 70 approval regulations and sample and practical examinations were. Either progress is being made or not. And our experience and major academic research show that this is true, that by working more closely with the police, you can actually make more targeted and real changes. I saw that Mayor Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel, recently said that an investigation should be carried out with the police, not the police, to have a real impact. And we did that. We work with police authorities to discuss the application of violence, human resources, standards and practices. And we – and we believe that we can make good progress in this way without the side effects that some of these consent regulations have. There is a study recently reviewed by Harvard that indicates that some of them – the collateral consequences of which – resulted in the police withdrawing and actually leading to more deaths, more murders, more crimes. So we have to be careful how we do this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you say you don’t use this tool because you don’t think it’s effective.

BARR: No, no, it’s …

MARGARET BRENNAN: – or because you think the problem will be solved by itself?

BARR: I’m just saying just because we don’t use this particular tool in every case doesn’t mean we don’t do anything about it. Ich denke, was in der Vergangenheit passiert ist, ist, dass Politiker das Kontrollkästchen aktivieren können, indem sie ein Zustimmungsdekret auf die Abteilung legen. Wir interessieren uns nicht für Gesten. Wir sind daran interessiert, echte Ergebnisse zu erzielen und mit Polizeichefs und Direktoren und Bürgermeistern der öffentlichen Sicherheit zusammenzuarbeiten, die das System wirklich ändern wollen. Aber wir haben das nie vom Tisch genommen. Wir – wir – wir haben diese Kraft. Wir werden diese Kraft nutzen. Wir sagen nur, dass Sie bei der Anwendung selektiv vorgehen müssen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Denkst du, es sollte eine Änderung der Regeln geben, eine verminderte Immunität, um einige der schlechten Bullen zu verfolgen?

BARR: Ich glaube nicht, dass Sie die Immunität reduzieren müssen, um den schlechten Bullen nachzulaufen, denn das würde sicherlich dazu führen, dass sich die Polizei zurückzieht. Polizei ist die härteste Aufgabe des Landes. Und ich – und ich denke ehrlich gesagt, dass wir im Allgemeinen die überwiegende Mehrheit der Polizei sind gute Leute. Sie sind staatsbürgerliche Menschen, die daran glauben, der Öffentlichkeit zu dienen. Sie tun es tapfer. Sie tun dies aufrichtig.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Aber die schlechten Bullen.

BARR: Ich denke, es gibt Fälle von schlechten Bullen. Und ich denke, wir müssen vorsichtig sein, wenn wir automatisch davon ausgehen, dass die Handlungen eines Individuums notwendigerweise bedeuten, dass seine Organisation faul ist. Alle Organisationen haben Leute, die sich schlecht verhalten, und manchmal muss man vorsichtig sein, wenn man das der gesamten Organisation zuschreibt und wenn es wirklich ein fehlerhaftes Mitglied ist, das sich nicht an die Regeln hält.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Aber nicht die Eröffnung der Muster- oder Übungsuntersuchung an einem Ort wie Minneapolis, an dem es Fragen zu den umfassenderen Fragen der Polizei gibt, war es nicht nur der eine Beamte, würde das diese Frage nicht beantworten?

BARR: Nun, genau das ist die Reaktion, von der ich denke, dass sie in der Vergangenheit ein Problem war. Das heißt, nur auf diesen Vorfall zu reagieren, indem die Abteilung sofort untersucht wird, führt nicht unbedingt zu einer Verbesserung der Situation. Aber ich würde sagen, dass der Gouverneur in erster Linie eine Untersuchung der Polizeibehörde angekündigt hat. Der Gouverneur, Gouverneur Walz, ein demokratischer Gouverneur, untersucht die Polizeiabteilung. Der Generalstaatsanwalt von Minnesota untersucht die Polizeiabteilung. Wir sind bereit zu handeln, wenn wir es für notwendig halten. Ich denke jedoch nicht, dass es gerechtfertigt ist, zu diesem Zeitpunkt eine Muster- oder Übungsuntersuchung einzuleiten. Eine andere Sache ist, dass wir uns einige der Beweise ansehen müssen. Ich meine, Leute, wissen Sie, Tatsache ist, dass das Strafjustizsystem sowohl auf Landes- als auch auf Bundesebene sofort darauf reagiert hat. Und wir gingen schnell mit unseren Ermittlungen voran. Aber wir müssen noch untersuchen, welche Arten von Gewaltrichtlinien in dieser Abteilung angewendet werden, wie die Schulung war und solche Dinge. Das können wir nicht über Nacht tun.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ich möchte Sie nach einigen Ereignissen der Woche fragen. Am Montag wurde der Lafayette Park von Demonstranten befreit. Du hast darüber gesprochen. Die Bundesagenten, die dort waren, melden sich bei Ihnen. Hielten Sie es für angebracht, Rauchbomben, Tränengas, Pfefferkugeln und Projektile auf scheinbar friedliche Demonstranten einzusetzen?

BARR: Sie waren keine friedlichen Demonstranten. Und das ist eine der großen Lügen, die die Medien an diesem Punkt zu verewigen scheinen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Drei meiner CBS-Kollegen waren dort. Wir haben mit ihnen gesprochen.

BARR: Ja.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They did not hear warnings. They did not see protesters–

BARR: There were three warnings.

MARGARET BRENNAN:–throwing anything.

BARR: There were three warnings given. But let’s get back to why we took that action. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, OK, there were violent riots in- at Lafayette Park where the park police were under constant attack at the- behind their bike rack fences. They were battling over the fences. They were trying to get entry. They were throwing bricks and inflammable liquid at the police. One fifth of the- there have been 750 officers hurt in the last week. One fifth of those have been in Washington, D.C.. Most of those have been federal officers at Lafayette Park. On Sunday, things reached a crescendo. The officers were pummeled with bricks. Crowbars were used to pry up the pavers at the park and they were hurled at police. There were fires set in not only St. John’s Church, but a historic building at Lafayette was burned down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: These were things that looters did.

BARR: Not looters, these were- these were the- the violent rioters who were- dominated Lafayette Park.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what I’m asking about–

BARR: They broke into the Treasury Department,

MARGARET BRENNAN: –on Monday when it was a peaceful protest.

BARR: I’m going to- let me get to this, because this has been totally obscured by the media. They broke into the Treasury Department, and they were injuring police. That night,–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sunday night?

BARR: Sunday night, the park police prepared a plan to clear H Street and put a- a larger perimeter around the White House so they could build a more permanent fence on Lafayette.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is something you approved on Sunday night?

BARR: No. The park police on their own on- on Sunday night determined this was the proper approach. When I came in Monday, it was clear to me that we did have to increase the perimeter on that side of Lafayette Park and push it out one block. That decision was made by me in the morning. It was communicated to all the police agencies, including the Metropolitan Police at 2:00 p.m. that day. The effort was to move the perimeter one block, and it had to be done when we had enough people in place to achieve that. And that decision, as I say, was communicated to the police at 2:00 p.m.. The operation was run by the park police. The park police was facing what they considered to be a very rowdy and non-compliant crowd. And there were projectiles being hurled at the police. And at that point, it was not to respond–

MARGARET BRENNAN: On Monday, you’re saying there were projectiles–

BARR: On Monday, yes there were.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As I’m saying, three of my colleagues were there.

BARR: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They did not see projectiles being thrown–

BARR: I was there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: –when that happened.

BARR: I was there. They were thrown. I saw them thrown.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you believe that what the police did using tear gas and projectiles was appropriate?

BARR: Here’s- here’s what the media is missing. This was not an operation to respond to that particular crowd. It was an operation to move the perimeter one block.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the methods they used you think were appropriate, is that what you’re saying?

BARR: When they met resistance, yes. They announced three times. They didn’t move. By the way, there was no tear gas used. The tear gas was used Sunday when they had to clear H Street to allow the fire department to come in to save St. John’s Church. That’s when tear gas was used.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There were chemical irritants the park police has said–

BARR: No, there were not chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant.

It’s not chemical.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Pepper spray, you’re saying is what was used–

BARR: Pepper balls. Pepper balls.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, and you believe that was appropriate. I just I want to play this–

BARR: Well, first the- the attorney- yeah, well, I- I think as I understand it, the Park Police and the Secret Service, they were the ones who carried out the movement of the crowd back one block. And I think they used their standard crowd control protocols.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So if all- if all of that’s true, why didn’t this happen at another time of day? Why did it have to happen in the middle of the day, just moments before the president gives a press conference and then walks to the area where the protesters had been standing?

BARR: Well–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why not do it in the middle of the night when the crowd thins? Move the perimeter?

BARR: Well, in the middle- in the middle of the night, the night before, which was Sunday, the law enforcement contingent was spent. They had lost 60 officers. In fact, in order to make the movement the next day, they had to bring in Virginia police departments to supplement units that were there, we had to build up enough people to control the situation and move it out. We were trying to do it as quickly as possible. After two o’clock, I heard that there was a point at which there were 300 protesters and- and the line could be more easily moved. But we didn’t have the- the trained crowd control people in place to do it. And officers have to sleep. So on Sunday, it was a period where we were bringing in the required elements to do this and to back it up and to make sure if things got out of hand, we had adequate people there to deal with it. So as soon as the elements were in place, it was done. It was- it was handled by the park police officers, the tactical commander, and as soon as they felt they could.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what you’re describing is just a confluence of events and coincidental timing. I wanted- what I want to show you is what a lot of people at home who were watching this on television saw and their perception of events. So if I can just- guys, I want to play a video here. I want you to see what the public at home saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN: As you can see, this is around exactly the same time. So while the president says that he appreciates peaceful protest, around the same time, this crowd–

BARR: Well, six minutes- six minutes difference–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, around same time the area is being cleared of what appear to be peaceful protesters using some force. And after the speech is finished, the president walks out of the White House to the same area where the protesters had been and stands for photo op in front of the church where the protesters had been. These events look very connected to people at home.

BARR: Well,–

MARGARET BRENNAN: It is- in an environment–

BARR: Am I going to have to talk over–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Cut the audio, please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN: In an environment where the broader debate is about heavy handed use of force in law enforcement, was that the right message for Americans to be receiving?

BARR: Well, the message is sometimes communicated by the media. I didn’t see any video being played on the media of what was happening Friday, Saturday and Sunday–

MARGARET BRENNAN: But- but this confluence of events–

BARR: All I heard- all I heard was comments about how peaceful protesters were. I didn’t hear about the fact that there were 150 law enforcement officers injured and many taken to the hospital with concussions. So it wasn’t a peaceful protest. We had to get control over Lafayette Park, and we had to do it as soon as we were able to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you understand how these events appear connected? The timing of this–

BARR: Well, it’s the job of the media to tell the truth. They were not connected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well this is what I’m asking you. Did you know when you gave the green light for these actions to be taken that the president was going to be going to that very same area for a photo op?

BARR: I gave the green light at two o’clock. Obviously, I didn’t know that the president was going to be speaking later that day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You had no idea?

BARR: No. No, I did not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you see–

BARR: The go ahead was given at two o’clock. And to do it as soon as we were able to do it, to move the perimeter from- from H Street to I Street.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re both Catholic. I know you’re observant. You’re a devout Catholic. Archbishop Gregory of Washington condemned what happened by gassing peaceful protesters.

BARR: There- there was no gas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is- is doing- is what we saw there doing what you meant when you were on that call with governors and you said to dominate the streets? Is that what law enforcement is supposed to be taking away from this?

BARR: No, on the contrary. My point to the governors and what I was saying was that it’s important when you’re dealing with civil disturbances to have adequate forces at hand and out and about so you can control events and not be controlled by events. And that it’s more dangerous for everybody if you have these wild melees with thinly-manned police lines running after protesters with batons and that and that it’s important that adequate forces on the street. And so we’re encouraging them where they were stretched thin to call out National Guard, if necessary, to restore order. That’s what I was talking about. I would say that- that this particular- police have to move protesters, sometimes peaceful demonstrators, for a short distance in order to accomplish public safety. And that’s what was done here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So there was nothing that you think should have been done differently in hindsight?

BARR: Well, you know, I- I haven’t studied the- the events retrospectively in detail, but I think in general, you had the qualified law enforcement officials with shields warning and moving a line slowly. They had mounted officers moving slowly, directing people to move. And most people complied. There was a small group that hung back and wrestled with the police officers trying to tear their shields from them. In one case, struggling to get one of the police officers guns and those people were subdued.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Mr. Attorney General, we have more questions for you, but I’m told we’re out of time.

BARR: Thank you.


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