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Democrats Enraged After U.S. Attorney General Barr Boycotts Judiciary Hearing

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Attorney General William Barr of lying to Congress in his testimony to a Senate committee over his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Democrats were incensed after Barr failed to show up for a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on May 2, a day after he testified in the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barr, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and took the post in February, refused to speak before the Democratic-led House panel because of a disagreement over the format.

Despite Barr’s announcement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler went ahead with the hearing -- leaving an empty chair for the Attorney General.

After his no-show, Pelosi said Barr's testimony to Congress raised "deadly serious" questions as "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, the top Democrat in Congress, added that neither the attorney general nor Republican President Donald Trump were above the law.

Nadler said after the hearing concluded without an appearance by Barr that he would make “one more good faith attempt” to negotiate with the attorney general on releasing the full Mueller report.

If that negotiation fails, Nadler said he would move to hold Barr in contempt.

Barr said he objected to the format of the hearing after Democrats decided to let staff attorneys conduct a round of questioning after lawmakers were done.

Barr said he objected to the format of the hearing after Democrats decided to let staff attorneys conduct a round of questioning after lawmakers were done.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on May 2 that it was "pathetic" that Democrats tried to have staff attorneys question Barr.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the staff questioning was "unprecedented and unnecessary."

Barr was grilled by senators on May 1 as Republican lawmakers defended his actions and those of President Donald Trump, while Democrats sought to highlight what they said were discrepancies with Barr's characterization of Mueller's report.

Democrats have charged that Barr was protecting Trump after he assessed Mueller's report on his own and declared there wasn't enough evidence that Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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