House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Attorney General William Barr of lying to Congress in his testimony regarding letters he received from special counsel Robert Mueller.
“What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That’s a crime,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
“He lied to Congress. He lied to Congress. That’s a crime,” she said.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded, saying Pelosi’s “baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible and false.”
Pelosi was referring to Barr’s House testimony April 9 that Mueller had no issue with the attorney general’s initial portrayal to the public of the “principal conclusions” of the special counsel report. Democrats charge Barr’s April testimony conflicts with Mueller’s complaint in a March 27 letter leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times the night before his May 1 testimony.
Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that in a phone conversation with Mueller, the special counsel said Barr’s report of the special counsel’s conclusions was accurate but missing context, which led to inaccurate media coverage.
The attorney general explained to senators that by law he was not required to release the Mueller report to Congress and the public. But when he decided it was in the public’s interest to release it, he needed to allow time for necessary redactions. In the mean time, he issued a four-page memo to Congress focused on Mueller’s conclusions, knowing the details eventually would become available later. And Barr noted that Mueller declined the opportunity to review the attorney general’s memo.
“He was very clear to me that he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report,” Barr told senators regarding his phone call with Mueller.
Some critics charge Mueller’s 448-page report is full of politically charged innuendo that diverges from his assignment simply to decide whether or not crimes were committed. Barr, ahead of the report’s release, said he wanted the public to have the “headlines”: The Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, and there was insufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice.
On Thursday, a reporter asked Pelosi if Barr should “go to jail.”
“There’s a process involved here … and the committee will act upon how we will proceed,” the House speaker said.
White House: Mueller’s ‘political statements’
Hours after Pelosi’s accusation, details were made public of a letter White House attorney Emmet Flood wrote to Barr on April 19 criticizing the Mueller team for not making a decision on obstruction of justice.
Flood said Mueller’s report “suffers from an extraordinary legal defect: it quite deliberately fails to comply with the requirements of governing law,” ABC News reported.
Mueller concluded in his report that the president and his campaign did not make illegal contacts with Russia but “declined to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” on matters of obstruction of justice.
The special counsel wrote that while the report’s findings don’t “conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Flood charged that the use of terms such as “exoneration” are “political statements.”