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Justice Department slams Pelosi for 'baseless attack' against Barr

The Justice Department on Thursday issued a rebuke of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS economy hurtles toward 'COVID cliff' with programs set to expire Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground MORE (D-Calif.) for engaging in what it called a “baseless attack” against Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMerrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister DOJ watchdog finds Louisiana inmates with coronavirus were not isolated for a week MORE after she claimed he committed a crime by lying to Congress.

“Speaker Pelosi’s baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible, and false,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. 

Earlier Thursday, Pelosi said in a press conference that Barr lied to Congress during April testimony on Capitol Hill.

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"What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That's a crime," Pelosi told reporters.

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after Barr delivered explosive testimony before the Senate during which he was repeatedly grilled on a March 27 letter in which special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE objected to the attorney general’s four-page memo describing his investigation’s conclusions.

Pelosi appeared to be referencing Barr’s earlier congressional testimony during which he indicated he was unaware of concerns from members of the special counsel’s team about his handling of Mueller’s report. 

Barr wrote in his memo on March 24 that Mueller did not establish that members of the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the election, and that the special counsel did not come to a conclusion one way or another on whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE obstructed justice.

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Ex-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE decided that the investigation laid out in the report was insufficient to accuse Trump of criminal wrongdoing.

On April 9, Barr was asked by Rep. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristFlorida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Anna Paulina Luna wins Florida GOP primary in bid to unseat Charlie Crist The feds should not spend taxpayer dollars in states that have legalized weed MORE (D-Fla.) about reports that members of Mueller’s team were dissatisfied with his account of the investigation’s findings and believed they did not capture the gravity of the details on obstruction.

Barr said he didn’t know what they were referencing.

“I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize,” Barr said.

The letter first reported by The Washington Post on the eve of Barr’s Wednesday testimony showed that Mueller in late March complained that Barr’s memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions” and created “public confusion” about the results.

Barr told lawmakers Wednesday that he called Mueller thereafter to discuss his complaints. He said Mueller said his letter did not mischaracterize the findings but expressed concerns about the resulting press coverage and asked Barr to release more from the report to provide more context.

Barr eventually decided against doing so, releasing a redacted version of Mueller’s full 448-page report three weeks later on April 18.