Pelosi Says Barr Lied to Congress and Trump Obstructed Justice

(Bloomberg) -- Attorney General William Barr “lied to Congress,” and President Donald Trump is obstructing justice by refusing to honor subpoenas from House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

“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,” Pelosi said at a news conference. “That’s a crime.”

Pelosi Says Barr Lied to Congress and Trump Obstructed Justice

When asked how to respond to Barr’s alleged lying, Pelosi -- who has discouraged Democrats from moving forward on impeachment, at least for the time being -- said she is deferring to the Judiciary Committee.

"We are in a very, very, very challenging place," she said, because Senate Republicans are "not going to say anything" about possible misconduct in the Trump administration.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded, “Speaker Pelosi’s baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible, and false.”

Barr defended the president, as well as his own summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, at a contentious hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Several Democrats called for him to resign before the day was over. On Thursday, the attorney general refused to appear for questioning by the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee, objecting to the planned format.

Contempt of Congress

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said that subpoenaing Barr to appear is a possibility, and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told MSNBC Thursday that the House should take steps to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

The Justice Department confirmed late Wednesday that it had also declined to comply with a subpoena for the unredacted version of Mueller’s report.

Pelosi Says Barr Lied to Congress and Trump Obstructed Justice

Trump’s "blanket statement that he’s not going to honor any subpoena is obstruction of justice," Pelosi said. "Many of the statements that the administration has made have been about obstruction of justice."

At her news conference, Pelosi didn’t specify any particular falsehoods by Barr. Pelosi told Democrats in a private meeting Thursday that Barr lied when he told Florida Democrat Charlie Crist at an earlier House hearing that he didn’t know why Mueller’s staff objected to Barr’s four-page statement on the special counsel’s report, according to a Democratic aide. This week it was disclosed that Mueller sent Barr a letter outlining his objections the day after Barr issued his statement.

"He lied to Congress, and if anybody else did that, it would be a crime," Pelosi said.

Still, she repeated her contention that "impeachment is the easy way out for some of these people because they know it will end at the Senate’s edge."

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