Watch AG Nominee Barr’s Very Long Pause When Asked if He’d Jail Journos For ‘Doing Their Jobs’: ‘As a Last Resort…’
Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general William Barr had a long pause in Tuesday’s confirmation hearing when Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked him about the jailing of journalists for, in her words, “doing their jobs.”
He did answer, though, and will likely answer further, at length and in writing, at the Senator’s request.
Klobuchar began the question by noting her own personal connection. “My dad was a reporter, so I grew up knowing the importance of a free press,” she said. “We obviously have the tragic case of a journalist who worked right here at The Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi. And it’s a particular concern.”
She pointed out her previous questioning of former AG Jeff Sessions on the topic. “I want to ask you something I asked Attorney General Sessions. If you’re confirmed, will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?”
That’s when Barr paused thoughtfully, if awkwardly, for about nine seconds.
“I think that — you know, I know there are guidelines in place, and I can conceive of situations where, as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag or something like that, knows that they’re putting out stuff that will hurt the country, there might be, there could be a situation where someone would be held in contempt, but –”
Klobuchar slightly talked over the end of his sentence, where he specifically said “held in contempt” and cut off what was to come after he said “but,” when she highlighted prior testimony from Sessions.
“Well, Attorney General Sessions had said he was going to look at potentially changing those rules at one point. So, I’d like you to maybe respond in writing to this, because that was very concerning,” she said.
The “for doing their jobs’ is the key portion of the question, an implication of unjust prosecution or the curtailing of speech. The pause, while awkward, came off as careful consideration. His more detailed response, should it become available, will probably be likewise careful. He was already Attorney General once, after all, to no detriment of journalists.
Which is not to say the question was unwarranted or due no consideration.
Watch the clip above, courtesy of C-SPAN.
[Featured image via screengrab]
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