John Kennedy Gets Smoked By Merrick Garland During Senate Hearing

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Ridiculously, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) took the opportunity provided by a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee about budgeting for the next fiscal year to ask Attorney General Merrick Garland as follows: “What percentage of cops in America do you think are bad cops?” Garland replied that he thought a “very small percentage” fit that description. Kennedy pressed on, and Garland added: “I don’t have a number… Let me just be clear. We believe that most police officers follow the Constitution in their practices. Most police departments do. And all police officers, I believe, want to work in police departments that follow Constitutional policing requirements.” In other words, Garland dismantled the startlingly persistent but false right-wing talking point that Democratic leaders are somehow undercutting the fundamental practices of policing in this country.

Kennedy wasn’t done with the ridiculous questions, subsequently asking Garland: “Do you think most cops are racist?” What is the point of that line of questioning? Is Kennedy just trying to get points on Fox News and in the right-wing media ecosystem for supposedly confronting a prominent Democratic leader about imaginary animosity towards policing? Garland succinctly replied to that question that he doesn’t believe most cops, in fact, fit that description, either. Kennedy repeatedly asked Garland for more specific details on his beliefs about the portion of U.S. police officers who are racist; eventually, the GOP senator inquired: “What’s your gut tell you? Less than 5 percent?” To that, the Attorney General responded: “One thing I’ve learned is to not give answers from my gut.”

Kennedy subsequently tried to get into more specific policy questions… and it didn’t go well. He asked why the Justice Department doesn’t push what would appear to be stop and frisk — a policing practice defined by indiscriminate police confrontations with essentially random individuals — to which Garland explained that the practice isn’t something the Justice Department generally deals with. As Garland explained it, “I don’t know that the Justice Department has a position. This is a state and local role normally.” In other words, Kennedy was asking barely relevant questions that failed to accurately capture basic facts. Watch below:

GOP Senators seem prone to embarrassing themselves during public hearings, as well-represented by what went down during the confirmation process for Biden Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who’s since been confirmed. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) complained during Jackson’s confirmation process about the past treatment of Republican judicial picks including Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned Jackson about the curriculum at a school where she’s served on the board of trustees but isn’t involved with selecting what books are used, and — among other embarrassing examples — Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) blatantly misrepresented Jackson’s opinion in his questioning, acting as though it was clear she’d pushed for releasing all D.C. Department of Corrections detainees towards the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — although she never advocated for that.