Attorney General Barr ‘Has Gone Rogue’ to Protect Trump, Pelosi Says
WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she believes Attorney General William Barr has “gone rogue” in his handling of a whistleblower complaint that implicates him in efforts by President Donald Trump to solicit Ukrainian interference in the 2020 election.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program minutes before a Capitol Hill press conference, Pelosi went on to say she believes individuals in the administration are now engaged in “a cover-up of the cover-up.”
“That’s really very sad for them,” she said.
Barr was drawn into the controversy stemming from Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, when the White House released what it thought would be a clarifying readout of the conversation.
However, the readout revealed that Trump urged the newly elected leader of Ukraine to work with Barr to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.
An anonymous whistleblower complaint released Thursday reported that Barr “appears to be involved” in Trump’s push for a probe into the Bidens.
The complaint also alleges that White House officials were deeply troubled by Trump’s call with Zelenskiy, and later tried to “lock down” details of the conversation.
The Justice Department has since denied Barr had ever been asked to investigate the Biden matter, and has gone on to say that at no time was the attorney general asked to work with Ukraine on such an investigation.
Pelosi also went on to question claims made Thursday of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who initially refused to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress.
Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee Thursday that he first discussed the complaint with the White House counsel’s office and then consulted with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
The Office of Legal Counsel reportedly determined the complaint did not meet the legal definition of “urgent” because Trump is not an employee of the intelligence community.
“To have a Justice Department go so rogue,” Pelosi said. And now it just makes matters worse that the attorney general was mentioned, that the president was mentioned, and yet the Justice Department directed the director of national intelligence to take this to the White House.”
Maguire has defended his handling of the complaint before the committee by explaining that nothing like this has ever happened before, and he had no roadmap to follow.
Pelosi said Maguire’s decision to turn to White House and Justice Department lawyers to discuss the complaint was “not highly unusual … it was plain wrong.”
Also on Friday came word that members of the House intelligence committee may be working through a two-week congressional recess that starts Friday.
Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the panel, said committee members are prepared to return. California Rep. Jackie Speier, also on the committee, told the Associated Press she’s already canceled some of her previous commitments.
The Democrats are seeking to keep momentum as the committee is suddenly at the center of an investigation that their caucus will use to inform impeachment proceedings.
Members of the committee said they expect to eventually interview White House aides and others linked to a whistleblower complaint made public Thursday.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., (sent a letter to the White House Friday requesting documents and answers regarding the Office of Management and Budget’s involvement in the withholding of foreign aid, including nearly $400 million in crucial security assistance funding for Ukraine.
In a letter to OMB Director and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Acting OMB Director Russell Vought, the lawmakers expressed their “serious concerns that recent apportionment actions by the Office of Management and Budget to withhold military aid for Ukraine and other foreign assistance constitute unlawful impoundments in violation of the [Impoundment Control Act of 1974] and are an abuse of the authority provided to the President to apportion appropriations.”
The lawmakers pointed to recent reports that implicate OMB in the withholding of congressionally-appropriated funding for Ukraine, including the recently declassified whistleblower complaint submitted to and deemed credible by the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.
“As reports continue to emerge, we have deepening concerns that OMB continues to demonstrate a pattern of impeding agencies’ ability to use their enacted appropriations,” the lawmakers wrote. “These actions have collectively undermined the longstanding application and predictability of federal funds management processes and require closer examination by our committees to inform appropriate legislative responses and reforms.”
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