Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) on Tuesday used video footage from protests in Venezuela as part of an attempt to cast federal authorities in Portland in a negative light, essentially comparing the nightly chaos to “violence in Venezuela at the hands of Maduro, firing tear gas at protesters and using brutal tactics to crush demonstrations.”
Mucarsel-Powel, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, told Attorney General William Barr that many of her constituents had “fled to America from countries that use deadly force to stifle speech,” adding that those authorities “used armed forces to suppress dissenting voices.”
Those Americans, she said, cherish the rights and freedoms in America and contended that the images from Portland remind them of “what they left behind.”
“Look at these videos for one second,” the Florida lawmaker told Barr. The video showed various scenes of violence in socialist Venezuela.
“We have seen violence in Venezuela at the hands of Maduro firing tear gas at protesters and using brutal tactics to crush demonstrations. That’s what we see from dictators on both the left and the right,” she told the attorney general.
“But it’s hard to distinguish these photos from those events and from the videos that we’ve seen by U.S. Federal Police in Portland,” she continued, asking how she can restore confidence among her constituents who are seeing “these images of violence used against the peaceful protesters” on the news every night.
“We all denounce violence,” she claimed. “How do you restore the trust in our democracy?”
Barr explained that any force from federal agents is being deployed against rioters “or in situations where protesters are not following police directions.”
“Most of then protests have been peaceful Mr. Barr,” Mucarsel-Powell snapped. “You know that. You know that. You’re just using language for political purposes, just like my colleagues across the aisle.”
Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) intervened following his colleague’s line of questioning, asking, “Was the video played by the previous member, was that a video of things that happened in the United States or in Venezuela?”
“I just want a clarification. What was the video?” he asked before Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) shut him down. Notably, Nadler recently referred to Antifa violence as “myth.”
Barr addressed the presence of federal authorities in Portland during Tuesday’s hearing, expressing concern over the Democrat leaders’ difficulty in condemning mob violence and continued attacks on federal buildings.
“Why can’t we just say: ‘Violence against federal courts has to stop?’ Could we hear something like that?” he asked, detailing the reality of the nature of the protesters. Barr explained:
Every night for the past two months a mob of hundreds of rioters have laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property. The rioters have come equipped for fighting. Armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledge hammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosives devices.
“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called ‘protest,'” he continued, calling the demonstrations an “assault on the government of the United States.”
The attorney general also expressed doubt that the federal courthouse, which has been violently targeted by rioters on a nightly basis, would be standing, had the administration refrained from sending federal agents to the city.