U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Donald Trump and his administration of "every day ... advertising their obstruction of justice by ignoring subpoenas" issued by opposition Democratic lawmakers for oversight of him, the White House and government agencies.
Pelosi, the leader of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, unleashed her verbal attack a day after the House Judiciary Committee overrode Republican opposition and voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. Lawmakers cited Barr for refusing to turn over an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and allegations that Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.
Pelosi said she agreed with Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the Judiciary panel's chairman, that the U.S. is in "a constitutional crisis," as the stalemate continues between House Democrats and Trump, a Republican who has vowed to fight all Democratic subpoenas demanding testimony from his administration's top officials and key documents.
Earlier in the week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rebuffed a request by the House Ways and Means Committee for six years of Trump's federal tax returns to examine whether he has hidden overseas investments, particularly in Russia. The committee's chairman, Congressman Richard Neal, said he would decide by week's end whether to subpoena the returns or file a court challenge to try to force Mnuchin to turn over the secret annual documents.
Pelosi said at a news conference that the House Democrats' investigations "will give us the facts and the truth. This is not about Congress or any committee of Congress. It's about the American people and their right to know, and their election that is at stake, and that a foreign government intervened in our election, and the president thinks it is a laughing matter."
Pelosi said, "It's appalling that this administration would not even pretend to want to protect our elections, and in fact, be an obstacle to our finding out more about how it happened, so we can prevent it from happening again."
Pelosi, however, has resisted calls by some Democrats to start impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Earlier in the week, Pelosi said, "Every single day the president is making the case. He's becoming self-impeachable."
But she told reporters Thursday, "Impeachment is one of the most divisive things that you can do, dividing a country, unless you really have your case with great clarity for the American people."
With the Judiciary Committee voting to hold Barr in contempt of Congress, the full House must now consider the contempt citation. But Pelosi said she is not rushing toward a vote.
Pelosi said she is waiting to see whether Mueller testifies before Nadler's committee about his handling of the Russia investigation.
Trump has said he does not think Mueller should testify, considering it a "redo" of the investigation. But Trump said Thursday he would leave it up to Barr.
The Trump-appointed attorney general, the country's top law enforcement official, has said he has no objection to Mueller testifying before congressional panels.