WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday accused U.S. Attorney General William Barr of going “rogue” in the Justice Department’s handling of a whistleblower report that President Donald Trump solicited a political favor from Ukraine’s president that could help him get re-elected.
The Democratic House leader, who launched an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday against the Republican Trump, has accused the administration of trying to cover up the whistleblower complaint.
Democrats have criticized Barr for not recusing himself from matters related to the whistleblower complaint prompted by a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“He’s gone rogue,” Pelosi told MSNBC in an interview.
According to a summary of the call released by the White House, Trump asked Zelenskiy to work with Barr and his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, who was pressing the Ukrainians to investigate matters related to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company when Biden was in office.
Biden is the front-runner in the Democratic race to challenge Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.
The complaint, which was made public on Thursday, described how White House officials removed an electronic record of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy from the computer server where such records are normally kept to one reserved for highly classified intelligence matters.
Pelosi criticized Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, for notifying the White House and Justice Department of the whistleblower complaint.
The law requires such complaints to be turned over to Congress. Maguire said he went to the White House first because he thought because he thought calls involving the U.S. president could be protected by executive privilege.
“I think where they’re going is a cover-up of the cover-up,” Pelosi said. “To have a Justice Department to go so rogue — well they have been for a while and not it just makes matters worse.”
Pelosi also said Maguire “broke the law” by not going to Congress first.
Trump continued his attacks on one of his biggest Democratic critics in Congress, Adam Schiff, who is chairman of the House Intelligence committee that will lead impeachment proceedings, which he calls a witch hunt.
“I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!” Trump said on Twitter.
Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu; Susan Cornwell and Makini Brice; Writing by Doina Chiacu, Editing by Timothy Heritage