Trump's Attorney General Nominee didn't know what hit him when Senator Cory Booker nailed him to the wall on his use of racist language, and appalling lack of interest and awareness of facts and statistics surrounding race and incarceration. When Sen. Booker brought up the issue in the first round of questioning at yesterday's hearings, Barr came right out of the gate talking about "violent gangs in the city, killing people, murder and so forth." He emphasized that the easiest way to take gangs off the streets is to bring them up on drug trafficking charges, and that of course, the murders in Chicago, for example (Chicago. Always Chicago. And Baltimore.) are related to gangs...
Booker stopped him in his tracks.
BOOKER: Those are the tropes that make people believe that in inner cities, we should have such profound incarceration rates...It's language like that that makes me kind of concerned and worried.
Then Booker asked if he had even reviewed the data on incarceration rates. Barr stated he had not. Booker asked him to commit to undertaking a study of his own if he's confirmed on these concerns surrounding the efficacy of reducing mass incarceration, and then to publish the results. Barr hemmed and hawed, saying, he thought there was already a lot of data available in the First Step Act. YOU KNOW — THE ONE HE HAS NOT READ — which had broad bi-partisan support in the most partisan Congress ever to exist.
BOOKER: Yes, and that First Step Act goes directly towards addressing a lot of the problems we've had in mass incarceration...[I]t's very important...that you review the data and understand the implications for the language that you're using. Which brings up this language of race, which is often not said explicitly, but when you talk about Chicago in the way you just did, it brings up racial fears and racial concerns.
Then, THEN Booker quoted the most damning thing any person in the legal field could possibly say who wanted to be taken seriously on criminal justice. It was a William Barr Quote. Booker was generous enough to give him the chance to say he'd evolved or knew better now.
BOOKER: [Y]ou stated that if a Black and a white, and I'm quoting you directly, are charged with the same offense, generally they will get the same treatment in the system and ultimately the same penalty...and I quote you again — that there is no statistical evidence of racism in the criminal justice system. Do you still believe that?
BARR: HMNA HMNA HMNA HMNA (I was only slightly paraphrasing, there) Well, what I said was, that was taken out of a broader quote which is...Overall, yes.
YES! Ladies, gentleman, and non-binary friends, I present to you, William Barr, Donald Trump's nominee for the top law enforcement official of the land. A man with no knowledge or interest in statistics, no awareness of how his language and generalizations are racist, and no concept whatsoever of how differently the criminal justice system treats white people and Black people. As many, many other people have quipped before I have, sounds about white.