Bringing Attorney General Barr Before the House Judiciary Committee
Ever since William Barr was confirmed by the Senate to serve as President Trump’s Attorney General, I believe that America has seen the rule of law weakened by a Department of Justice (DOJ) twisted into a political weapon. Whether it was publicly undermining the Special Counsel investigation and twisting the conclusions from the Mueller report, or the decision to drop ongoing prosecutions and upend convictions against Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, or firing SDNY prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, or the decision to use tear gas on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, I believe Attorney General Barr has continually corrupted justice in service of President Trump’s political interests.
This past week, I led the House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Attorney General Barr, where I asked him directly about many of these issues. In my opening statement, I laid out my views of how the Department of Justice under Mr. Barr has become a political tool of the White House, rather than the apolitical agency for justice it was intended to be. Most worrying, under my questioning the Attorney General admitted that President Trump has raised campaign matters in official conversations, a truly frightening admission from the man supposed to be the ‘people’s lawyer.’
Our hearing—which also touched on issues of racial injustice and police brutality, the federal government's response to COVID-19,and the critical problem of voter suppression and mail-in ballot security—offered the first meaningful opportunity for Congressional oversight in over a year. But our work cannot end there, and I will continue working to hold Attorney General Barr and President Trump accountable based on my fundamental belief that no one is above the law.
Investigating the Influence of America’s Big Tech Corporations
Whether it’s the news you read, the products you purchase, or the ways you stay in touch with your friends and family, our lives have grown inseparable from the online platforms and technologies that have become an everyday norm. This makes the corporations that control these technologies and platforms more powerful than ever. With a small number of companies holding vastmarket power—the influence of some of these corporations, I believe, rivals that of the monopolistic railroad companies of the 1880s—the House Judiciary Committee held a historic Antitrust Subcommittee hearing with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to investigate dominance in the online marketplace and the potential need for expanded antitrust laws.
While the Committee’s investigation into market dominance in the tech industry has been ongoing for nearly a year, this hearing offered our first opportunity to directly question the heads of these corporations, and we wasted little time in pressing the CEOs for answers. In my opening statement, I focused on the role of Congress to hold large companies accountable and ensure safeguards against their abuse of their power, and I used my questioning to raise important questions, like asking Mark Zuckerberg about what I believe is Facebook’s pattern of monopolistic acquisitions.
Our investigation into the power held by big tech companies will continue. I’m glad that these corporate leaders had the opportunity to be heard by the Committee and the American public—their testimony was insightful and will inform the rest of our work—and I look forward to moving forward in working to strengthen our antitrust laws to protect competition and resist monopolistic expansion.
Working to Keep America’s Public Transit Afloat
Ensuring that America’s public transit agencies—like New York’s MTA—can weather the storm that is COVID-19 and its economic consequences has been one of my top priorities over the past several months. Not only did I fight to include $4 billion in federal funds for the MTA in the CARES Act, as well as a further $4 billion in the Heroes Act that House Democrats passed last month, but I have consistently pushed House and Senate leadership to allocate more funds for our country’s struggling public transit. This past week, I, along with Rep. Jesús ‘Chuy’ García (D-IL), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), led more than 100 other Members of Congress in calling on Congressional leadership to include $32 billion in federal funds for public transit agencies nationwide in the next COVID-19 federal relief package. Our public transit systems are too important
—for the millions who rely on them for daily commutes, for those who need subways and buses to buy groceries or to pick up medication, and for our essential workers who need public transit to get to and from work. Congress needs to step in and provide critical relief if our public transportation systems are going to continue serving our communities.