House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she "lost sleep" over Attorney General William Barr's Senate testimony about the Mueller report Wednesday, accusing him of lying to Congress. She told reporters Thursday he would be held accountable by Congress "one way or another."
"I really lost sleep last night after watching over and over again the testimony of the attorney general of the United States," she told reporters at her weekly news conference. "How sad it is...to see the top law enforcement officer in our country misrepresented, withholding the truth from the Congress of the United States."
"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 said of Barr's earlier April 9 testimony before the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Florida Democrat, had asked Barr about reports that some in the special counsel's office were dissatisfied with Barr's initial letter.
"Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings," Crist said. "Do you know what they're referencing with that?" Barr responded, "No, I don't," adding, "I think — I think — I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries."
In his testimony Wednesday, Barr defended his handling of the release of the special counsel's report on conspiracy with the Russians and obstruction. He also fielded questions about a letter special counsel Robert Mueller had written him to express his concern that Barr's initial four-page letter on the conclusions of the report "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions." Barr told senators that in a subsequent phone call with Mueller, the special counsel had told him that it was not the letter, but rather "press reporting" that had been "inaccurate" and the media was "reading too much into it."
Asked why he didn't just release Mueller's letter when Crist posed his question, Barr did not directly answer.
Barr refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, balking at the Democrats' attempt to allow committee counsel and staff to question the attorney general. If he "does not provide the committee with the information it demands or the respect it deserves Mr. Barr 's moment of accountability will come soon enough," Pelosi said.
Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for the Justice Department, responded to Pelosi's allegations in a statement: "Speaker Pelosi's baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible, and false."
Pelosi also condemned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for refusing to allow votes on Democratic priorities, calling him the "grim reaper." She also said Republicans had a "special interest agenda" fueled by "dark money."