As the showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration drags on, Attorney General William Barr and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi crossed paths at the U.S. Capitol for a few memorable moments on Wednesday, when Barr attempted to score a few political points at Pelosi’s expense.
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But Barr’s attempt to playfully taunt the sharp-tongued political veteran quickly backfired.
While officials waited for President Donald Trump to arrive at the 38th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on Wednesday morning, Barr and Pelosi engaged in an exchange destined to become an instant Washington classic.
As those seated on the platform waited for the president’s arrival, Barr, who Pelosi accused of committing a crime by lying to Congress, approached her, shook her hand and said loudly, “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?” according to a source who witnessed the conversation.
Pelosi smiled and quickly threw some shade back at Barr, indicating that “the House Sergeant at Arms was present at the ceremony should an arrest be necessary,” according to a source who observed the exchange.
Barr chuckled and walked away, according to the bystander.
The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress on May 8, and Pelosi has threatened to jail Trump administration officials, including Barr, in the basement of the Capitol if they do not cooperate with the legislative branch’s efforts to conduct oversight on the executive branch.
Earlier this month, Pelosi told reporters that she believes Barr lied under oath during testimony at a hearing in April.
“The attorney general of the United States did not tell the truth to the Congress. That’s a crime,” Pelosi said May 2.
“He lied to Congress. If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi added. “Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States and not the attorney general. Being attorney general does not give you a bath to go say whatever you want and it is the fact because you are the attorney general. It just isn’t true.”
Democrats may package contempt resolutions together for multiple administration officials, including former White House counsel Don McGhan, who the president has blocked from turning over documents, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who denied Democrats’ request for six years of the president’s tax returns.