House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that Attorney General William Barr has “gone rogue” in his handling of a whistleblower complaint that led her to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Pelosi also claimed that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire “broke the law” by not immediately handing over to Congress the whistleblower’s complaint, which the Intelligence Community’s Office of Inspector General had determined was “urgent” and “credible.”
Barr is mentioned in the complaint, and in a memorandum of a July 25 phone call in which Trump asks Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky “if you can look into” allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The whistleblower’s complaint raised alarms that the call showed Trump “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” It called Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “a central figure” in the alleged effort, and said that “Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.”
Trump told Zelensky that he would “have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General [William] Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”
The DOJ did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Pelosi’s remarks.
The Justice Department told NBC News that Barr found out about the call several weeks after it was made, that the matter was then referred to DOJ and that Trump never spoke with Barr about having Ukraine investigate Biden or his son.
Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about Barr’s involvement in the controversy, Pelosi said: “He’s gone rogue.”
Maguire said in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday that he was doing what seemed right in an “unprecedented” situation. He testified that he “thought it would be prudent” to ensure that there were no conflicts regarding executive privilege.
Democrats, however, criticized Maguire for bringing the whistleblower’s document for review to agencies led by the very people implicated in the complaint. Department of Justice lawyers determined that the complaint was not “urgent” according to the legal definition of that word.
It was eventually given to Congress, and was publicly released shortly before Maguire’s testimony began Thursday morning.
The complaint also claims that this was “not the first time” the Trump administration protected a presidential transcript by placing it in a “separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.”
Pelosi, asked on “Morning Joe” where White House officials might be headed, said that “I think where they’re going is a cover-up of the cover up.”
“And that’s really sad for them,” she continued. “And to have a Justice Department go so rogue – well, they had been for a while. And now it just makes matters worse that the attorney general was mentioned, that the president was mentioned, and the yet Justice Department directed the director of national intelligence to take this to the White House.”
Democrats have long criticized Barr for his handling of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling, possible Trump campaign coordination with Russia and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself.
Barr, who was put in charge of overseeing the release of Mueller’s report, opted to share a short summary of the 448-page document with what he considered to be its main takeaways. But Democrats accused him of downplaying significant details ad attempting to craft a narrative that would be favorable to Trump weeks before the full report was released.
The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt in May for refusing to comply with their subpoena for the complete, unredacted version of the Mueller report, along with all of the underlying evidence that informed it.