The day after Attorney General William Barr’s long and contentious appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him of lying.
“The attorney general of the United States was not telling the truth,” Pelosi said during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. “That’s a crime.”
“He lied to Congress. He lied to Congress,” she continued. “If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States and not the attorney general. Being the attorney general does not give you a bath to go say whatever you want.”
Barr had faced pointed questions from Democratic lawmakers over his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Barr was also grilled about his testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on April 9, when Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., asked Barr if he knew that members of Mueller’s team were “frustrated” by Barr’s four-page summary of the special counsel’s report, which was broadly favorable to President Trump.
Barr told Crist he was unaware of objections from Mueller. But at the Wednesday hearing a letter was made public in which Mueller told Barr about his concerns with the attorney general’s summary and how it was being described in media reports. The letter was sent on March 27, two weeks before Barr told Crist the opposite.
Pelosi would not comment on what should happen next, saying she would leave it up to Democratic-controlled House committees to decide.
More broadly, Pelosi said the American people should “connect the dots” from Barr to Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a Republican agenda “fueled by dark special-interest money.”
Barr, she noted, is leading the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, which, if it prevails, would cause millions of Americans to lose their health care coverage.
“He was sitting there in that arrogance. ‘I don’t care about your preexisting condition. I care about the special interests in our country.’ That was the message,” Pelosi said. “That was what that hearing was about.”
Earlier Thursday, Barr failed to appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing amid disagreements over the format.
In a remarkable scene inside the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., blasted Barr as the attorney general’s empty seat was visible on a split screen.
“He has failed the men and women of the Department of Justice by placing the needs of the president over the fair administration of justice,” Nadler said. “He has even failed to show up today.”
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