Barr dismisses contempt vote as part of 'political circus'

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Garland sparks anger with willingness to side with Trump Trump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says MORE on Friday brushed aside recent criticism from Democrats, calling Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing Sunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda MORE's (D-Calif.) allegations that he lied under oath "laughable" and dismissing a House panel vote to hold him in contempt of Congress as a "political circus."

Barr, speaking with Fox News during a trip to El Salvador in his first televised interview since becoming attorney general in February, said he's unfazed by mounting criticism from Democrats. Asked specifically about a House Judiciary Committee vote last week to hold him in contempt, Barr said he was unsurprised by the move.


"It’s part of the usual game, you know, political circus that’s being played out. It doesn’t surprise me," he said on "America's Newsroom."

"I don’t feel threatened," Barr added.

The Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to make a formal recommendation that the House hold Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena for a full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's report and underlying documents.

Barr has previously joked about the contempt vote. He made an offhand remark about it during a sendoff for Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Protect the police or the First Amendment? MORE last week. And he joked with Pelosi earlier this week at an event at the Capitol, asking her whether she brought handcuffs.

The contempt vote marked the latest escalation in the standoff between Democrats and Barr. Democratic lawmakers have argued the attorney general bungled the release of the Mueller report, has provided cover for the president and has refused to cooperate with Congress's oversight requests.

Some Democrats have called on Barr to resign and asserted that he was not truthful during testimony before House and Senate panels in recent weeks. They pointed to Barr's testimony that he did not know about frustrations from Mueller's team with his March 24 summary of the special counsel's report.

It was later revealed that Mueller wrote to Barr prior to the attorney general's testimony expressing concern that Barr's memo "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions."

"He lied to Congress; he lied to Congress," Pelosi said. "And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime."

Barr on Friday scoffed at Pelosi's characterization, arguing her remarks may have been part of an effort to undermine him as he looks into the origins of the Russia probe.

"I think it’s a laughable charge," he said. "And I think it’s largely being made to try and discredit me, partly because they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election."

"But obviously you can look at the face of my testimony and see on its face that there was nothing inaccurate about it," he added.