Pelosi: A.G. Barr 'has deeply damaged the rule of law'

Pelosi called Barr a "sad disappointment to our country" and said he has "stooped to such levels."

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rebuked Attorney General William Barr on Thursday for his role in reducing the Justice Department's proposed prison sentence for Trump associate Roger Stone this week.

"A.G. Barr has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing the DOJ's sentencing recommendation, the act of interference in Trump's retribution against [the] lead attorney in the Stone case," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference.

Pelosi called Barr a "sad disappointment to our country" and said he has "stooped to such levels." She was referring to the Justice Department's decision to overrule career prosecutors and propose a reduction in its recommended sentence for Stone. The reversal, announced Tuesday, prompted all four prosecutors to withdraw from the criminal case.

"The American people deserve better," Pelosi said. "This is not what America is about. It is so wrong."

She also blasted President Donald Trump for demonstrating "once again that he has no respect for the rule of law" by "engaging in political interference" in Stone's sentencing.

The speaker's comments came a day after it was announced that Barr would testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31 amid numerous concerns from Democrats about his actions as head of the Justice Department.

Democrats told Barr in a letter Wednesday that they plan to ask him about the change in the proposed sentence. Pelosi has called for an investigation, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has asked that the Justice Department's inspector general look into what occurred.

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Barr has refused to cooperate with House Democrats in the past. Last May, the attorney general skipped a Judiciary Committee hearing on then-special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference. In July, the House voted to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, alleging that they obstructed an investigation of the administration's failed bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Pelosi was asked Thursday whether House Democrats were considering impeaching Barr, but she said only that Democrats were focused on protecting and defending the Constitution by impeaching the president. She added, "There's so much malfeasance of the people in the executive branch right now."

Asked at his weekly news conference Thursday whether Trump was interfering in the Stone case, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, "No, the president is not interfering, because if you listen to the Department of Justice, they made the decision before the tweet ever went out."

Noting that Barr has agreed to testify before the Judiciary Committee, he said there is "no issue here."

Leigh Ann Caldwell, Alex Moe and Haley Talbot contributed.