Attorney General William Barr stunned a gathering of U.S. Attorneys yesterday with an impromptu musical performance.
The Washington Examiner reported:
Attorney General William Barr surprised the crowd gathered at the Justice Department on Wednesday when he jumped out of his seat and grabbed a set of bagpipes to join the Emerald Society Pipe Band in a rousing rendition of Scotland the Brave.
Attorney General Barr speaks to gathering of U.S. attorneys at the @TheJusticeDept. When the @NYPDnews Bagpipe Band is playing, you can see Barr sneak off stage. He walks back on stage from behind the curtains with big surprise for audience: pic.twitter.com/z5bxwcss7L
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) June 26, 2019
It was a moment of levity for the controversial attorney general as he kicked off the U.S. Attorneys’ Conference.
When Barr got up to the podium, he briefly diverted from his prepared remarks, saying that his colleagues at the DOJ had tried to surprise him with bagpipers, but that he’d figured it out. “But as you know, I’m very proficient at, dare I say the word, spying,” Barr said. “And I discovered the plot. So this was my counter surprise.”
Barr famously told a Senate committee earlier this year that referred to some of the surveillance actions taken by the U.S. government during the Trump-Russia investigation as “spying did occur” while speaking in front of a Senate committee in April, and despite criticism from many Democrats, Barr has repeatedly defended his use of the term since then, calling it “a good English word.”
Barr said today was the first time he’d played the bagpipes since performing at his daughter’s wedding late last year.
He recounted that Trump called him up in early December, saying Trump told him that he was about to jump on a helicopter and wanted to move up the announcement of his appointment as attorney general on a whim so he could tell the reporters on the way out.
“So sure enough, as my first out-of-body experience, and there have been a lot since then, but I turn on the TV and there he is announcing me as attorney general,” Barr said.
The attorney general also talked about the challenges the DOJ faces.
“On the one hand, the department’s law enforcement efforts are at their all-time best,” Barr said. “On the other hand, the threats we face are greater and more complex than ever.”
Barr said that he was particularly focused on violent crimes, dangers posed to federal law enforcement officials, transnational gangs, national security threats, and the crisis on the southern border.
Barr also said he was worried about hate crimes, saying he was “deeply concerned” about the “rise that we have seen over the past decade” and made it clear that we “must have zero tolerance for violence that is motivated by hatred against their fellow citizens, whether on the basis of their racial, religious, or sexual characteristics.”
Barr pointed to illegal drugs as another growing threat, knocking the Obama administration for not being aggressive enough and saying that “a tsunami was allowed to build up which is now hitting the country.” Barr said that “when I look at the overdose deaths, the blighted lives, and the families and communities broken by drug addiction, it reminds me why we cannot surrender.”
And Barr weighed in on the immigration controversy, saying that “a lasting solution will involve changing our laws, but in the meanwhile we must do all we can to support DHS.” Barr also said that “even if we devoted every AUSA in the country to those cases, we could not solve the crisis on the southern border through prosecutions alone” and said he hoped that more immigration judges and Trump’s recent agreement with Mexico would help solve the issue.
“Much of what we’re trying to do is make up ground that we’ve lost as a result of inattention in the past,” Barr told the crowd. “And I assure you with sustained efforts and firm resolve we will make up this ground and surmount these challenges.”