New reports indicate that US Attorney General William Barr directly confronted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Wednesday event on Capital Hill, taunting Pelosi while asking if she brought handcuffs – a reference to Democrats’ calls for his arrest.
Barr’s remarks came in response to threats coming from House Democrats, who have increasingly demanded he be held in contempt of Congress regarding his handling of the Mueller report.
Recently, Pelosi bluntly accused Barr of having “lied to Congress,” and went on to accuse the Attorney General of having committed “a crime.”
However, despite Democrats’ assertions that Barr, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the country, be arrested, Pelosi has appeared hesitant, having recently stated, “I’m not for that,” while noting, “We do have a jail in the basement of the Capitol.”
From Fox News:
Bill Barr did not mince words about his brawl with House Democrats when he ran into Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday on the sidelines of a Capitol Hill event.
According to a source close to the attorney general, Barr approached her in a holding tent after the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and asked whether she had brought her handcuffs.
The quip was a reference to the calls from some rank-and-file Democrats for Barr himself to be arrested, amid the fight over access to Russia probe documents.
The House Judiciary Committee voted last week to hold Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report and underlying materials, as President Trump asserted executive privilege to protect those same files from release.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., was one of the first calling for the House to pursue “inherent contempt,” which would have Barr arrested by the sergeant at arms—a tactic reportedly not employed since the 1930s.
Several other lawmakers, including Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., have warmed to the idea.
“We know how to arrest people around here,” Raskin told Politico. “And if we need to arrest someone, the [House] sergeant-at-arms will know how to do it. I’m not afraid of that.”
He added: “If they can arrest my constituents, we can arrest someone else who’s disobeying the law.”
But despite rank-and-file Democrats calling for the drastic measure, Pelosi has seemed cool to the idea. Last week, she pushed back when asked about the potential step.
“We do have a jail in the basement of the Capitol, but if we were arresting all of the people in the administration, we would have an overcrowded jail situation,” Pelosi said. “And I’m not for that.”
Inherent contempt is one of three contempt options available, along with criminal contempt (under which an individual is charged with a crime) and civil judgment (leading to a civil court process).
But while Pelosi has not outright called for his arrest, the speaker has claimed that the attorney general lied to Congress.
“He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi told reporters last month. “Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States. Not the attorney general.