AG Bill Barr taunts Pelosi: ‘Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?’

May 16, 2019

If House Democrats hoped to send a message to Attorney General William Barr last week by holding him in contempt of Congress, they failed miserably.

The nation’s top prosecutor refuses to be intimidated, even going so far as to troll House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week at a memorial service in Washington.


For Barr, the indefatigable attorney general who doesn’t tolerate political grandstanding, no occasion is too solemn to throw shade at his liberal critics, and he came loaded for bear Wednesday with a blistering one-liner guaranteed to infuriate Democrats who want to see him behind bars.

“Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?” Barr quipped during the 38th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

The House Judiciary Committee voted May 8 on strictly partisan lines to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to break the law by releasing a full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report. Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibit the attorney general from publishing the secret grand jury testimony and confidential intelligence-gathering data concealed within the report, though Democrats don’t seem to care.

Perjury proof

Barr was clearly responding to comments from Pelosi, who has strongly implied that he lied to Congress during an April Appropriations Committee hearing when he testified that he had no idea why Mueller was upset about the attorney general’s March 24 summary of the Russia report. Although he received a letter from Mueller and spoke with him on the phone regarding his frustration with the media’s coverage of the summary report, the committee only asked Barr about the reaction of Mueller’s “team.”

“Barr’s contact was with Mueller, not Mueller’s team. His exchanges with Mueller gave Barr no basis to know about any objection to his description of the report’s findings — from Mueller or anyone else,” explained former federal prosecutor and National Review editor Andy McCarthy.

“When we look at the actual words of this exchange, Barr’s testimony is clearly accurate,” McCarthy continued. “And I don’t mean accurate in the hyper-technical, Clintonesque ‘depends on what the definition of is is’ sense. I mean straightforward, unguarded, and evincing a willingness to volunteer information beyond what the question sought.”

“You’d be in jail”

Nevertheless, Pelosi insisted that Barr “lied to Congress” and “that’s a crime.” Because she said so.

“He lied to Congress,” the House majority leader said last week. “And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States. Not the attorney general.”

She added: “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. And I’m not for that.”

Remember: Trump famously told his presidential opponent at a live debate in 2016 that she’d “be in jail” if he were president, eliciting a backlash from progressive political analysts who compared his remarks to that of a “tin-pot dictator” from a “banana republic.” Three years later, the House speaker suggests that the entire executive branch should be locked up, and liberal pundits applaud Pelosi for bringing “the laws of our land into effect in regards to the very corrupt and illegal use of power being wielded by the current administration.”

Fortunately, the Justice Department is currently administered by a fire-eating attorney general who won’t back down in the face of idle threats and political hand-wringing.

Barr is an experienced litigator who served as attorney general before under the George H.W. Bush administration. This ain’t his first rodeo, and he is wise enough to know when to take the bull by its horns and send the rodeo clowns scurrying.


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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.