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Nancy Pelosi on impeaching Attorney General William Barr: 'Nothing is off the table'

Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Attorney General William Barr should be held in contempt of Congress and "nothing is off table" regarding whether to impeach him.
  • Pelosi's comments come hours before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee holds a vote on whether to hold Barr in contempt.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives during her weekly press conference on Thursday morning. Pelosi is asserting that Attorney General Robert Barr has committed a crime by lying to Congress.
Aurora Samperio | NurPhoto | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr should be held in contempt of Congress and "nothing is off table" regarding whether to impeach him.

Pelosi's comments at a Washington Post event came hours before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote whether to hold Barr in contempt for the Justice Department's refusal to give Congress special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted Russia report and its underlying evidence.

"Yes, I think that the attorney general should be held in contempt," said Pelosi, the nation's top-ranking Democrat.

When the Post asked Pelosi, "Is impeachment of Mr. Barr on the table?" she responded: "Well, nothing is off the table."

"I wish everyone would take a deep breath and be almost prayerful about this," Pelosi added.

The committee is scheduled to hold the vote, which pertains to a contempt resolution and report, during a markup hearing at 10 a.m. ET, according to a press release from the panel. If the vote passes, the resolution and report will move to the full House, where Democrats hold a majority of seats.

Democrats have criticized Barr heavily for his handling of Mueller's report on Russia's election meddling, possible Trump-campaign coordination with the Kremlin and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Their attacks only grew following Barr's appearances testifying before congressional committees, where some top Democratic lawmakers — including Pelosi — say the attorney general was untruthful.

"He lied to Congress," Pelosi said last week. "If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime."

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Pelosi's remarks.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Jahi Chikwendiu | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee said Monday it would schedule a vote on holding Barr in contempt after the Justice Department signaled it would refuse to comply with a subpoena for the full Mueller report lodged by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. The committee set two separate deadlines for the department to give Congress the report, both of which have expired.

On Tuesday, the House panel's staff met with Justice Department officials in a last-minute attempt to hash out differences between the two sides over the Russia report. The DOJ has made a less-redacted version of the report available to 12 leading lawmakers in a secure room on Capitol Hill, but Nadler and other Democrats say that accommodation is insufficient.

In a statement Tuesday night, Nadler slammed the department for demanding in a letter, obtained by NBC News, that the committee cancel the contempt vote, or else Barr will recommend that Trump invoke executive privilege over the materials requested by the subpoena.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in the letter that the panel's continued demands were "unreasonable." But Nadler responded that that is "not how executive privilege works." "The White House waived these privileges long ago, and the [DOJ] seemed open to sharing these materials with us earlier today," Nadler said.

Mueller's team wrote in their 448-page report that they found insufficient evidence to show that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Mueller made no determination on whether Trump himself obstructed the investigation, but Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded from the report that there wasn't enough evidence to recommend and obstruction offense.

Republicans have sounded off against Democrats' conduct toward Barr and the Justice Department.

"It appears that the more access to information Democrats receive, the less interested they are in actually examining those facts," said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on Nadler's committee. He said the DOJ's "endurance is admirable" in dealing with demands from Democrats — especially Nadler, who "rebuffed the olive branch" of the Tuesday meeting "and plowed ahead with his plan to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt for upholding the law."

"I can't imagine a more illogical hill for a legislator to die on," Collins said.