Nancy Pelosi drops the hammer on William Barr

The House Judiciary Committee went ahead and held its Mueller report hearing today without Attorney General William Barr, who was too afraid to show up after his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday went disastrously for him. In the end, the point of today’s hearing was to establish that Barr is a criminal with something to hide. Now that it’s out of the way, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is making clear that Barr is toast.

Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has announced that he’s holding a vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. But that’s just the start. Nancy Pelosi said this to reporters today: “Not honoring subpoenas is obstruction of justice … He lied to congress which is a crime.” She then tweeted this: “Attorney General Barr’s decision to mislead the public in his testimony to Congress was not a technicality — it was a crime.”

Pelosi is rather clearly telegraphing what’s going to happen next. Most cable news pundits are incorrectly implying that there is nothing House Democrats can do to Barr under the law. Various online pundits are incorrectly insisting that House Democrats are unwilling to do anything to Barr. Back in the real world, the Democrats have a number of aggressive options available to them, including massive fines, impeachment, and – yes – having the Sergeant-at-Arms arrest him.

House Democrats have to go through specific steps while going down this path, in order justify their moves both in a legal sense and in the court of public opinion. But Pelosi’s words make clear that they’re taking that path against William Barr. Once the Democrats make their move, the pundits will shift from the current doomsday narrative about how nothing can be done to Barr, to a new doomsday narrative about how the Democrats are somehow helping Trump by taking down Barr. But that’s irrelevant. The public wants action, and justice demands action. It’s happening.

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