House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday she believes Attorney General William Barr has “gone rogue” with his handling of the controversy regarding the Trump administration’s interactions with Ukraine, Axios reports. Pelosi bemoaned the fact that acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire handed over the whistleblower complaint to Barr’s Justice Department before giving it to Congress. Maguire was worried that President Donald Trump’s phone calls with a foreign leader could fall under the umbrella of executive privilege. The DOJ Office of Legal Counsel determined that the matter was not of “urgent concern” and did not have to be forwarded to Congress.
Barr is a key player in the controversy, given the fact that Trump said he would have the attorney general contact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Because Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up, “Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself,” writes Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times. The whistleblower wrote that White House officials moved a transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky from the system where such transcripts were typically kept into a separate system for highly classified information. The whistleblower said White House officials told him it was not the first time in this administration that a presidential transcript was put in the codeword-level system solely to protect politically sensitive information. Legal ethicist Stephen Gillers of New York University said any lawyers involved might have done something illegal. “It is both unethical and a crime for a lawyer to participate in altering, destroying or concealing a document, and here the allegation is that the … transcript was moved from the place where people ordinarily would think to look for it to a place where it would not likely be found,” said Gillers. “That’s concealing.”