Her comments came a day after a high-profile House Judiciary Committee hearing at which Democrats accused Barr of politicizing the Justice Department, including by intervening in criminal cases to the benefit of former Trump advisers and ousting a U.S. attorney who is investigating President Trump’s personal lawyer.
The remarks by Pelosi, the nation’s top Democrat, underscored how the speaker is balancing intensifying interest among some colleagues in targeting Barr and Trump with the limits of the congressional schedule less than five months to the election.
Her comments also reflected the reality that Republicans, who control the Senate, would short-circuit any bid to impeach and remove Barr, who they have asserted is drawing ire because he is trying to ferret out the corruption of his Justice Department predecessors under a Democratic administration.
“Anyone who saw that testimony will know that Barr is a mess,” Pelosi said. “It’s a disgrace. The Department of Justice, I have been talking about that for a while.”
She noted that roughly a year ago the Democratic-led House voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas.
“So he is contemptible,” Pelosi said. “There’s no question about that. But at this point, let’s solve our problems by going to the polls and voting on Election Day, 131 days from now.”
Elsewhere in an interview that touched on several other topics, Pelosi said that she does not share the fear of some Democrats that Trump will refuse to leave the White House if he loses the election in November to Biden, the former vice president.
“I think that he would respect the results of the election,” Pelosi said. “And even if he didn’t, then the hedge henchmen around him would understand that he would have to respect results of the election.”
She added, however, that she will be “prepared for everything.”
When asked earlier this week whether he thinks there will be a peaceful transfer of power if Trump does not win reelection in November, former national security adviser John Bolton told The Post, “I certainly hope so,” but “I think in the Trump administration you can’t be certain of anything.”
Pelosi said that Bolton “chose money over patriotism” by not speaking up sooner about the president’s conduct and testifying during the House’s impeachment inquiry last year.
Pelosi shot several other barbs at Trump, including when she was asked who is to blame for rising coronavirus cases in some states, including her home state of California.
“Sixteen hundred Pennsylvania Avenue,” Pelosi said, citing the address of the White House, and suggesting Trump’s rosy assessments of a speedy return to normal had led to dire consequences.
“The delay, the denial . . . the hoax that it’s going to go away magically, a miracle is going to happen, we’ll be in church together by Easter, caused death,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi, who has cut deals on federal spending with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in recent months, said there are not ongoing talks on another round of stimulus, but she said the channels are open with the administration and she remains hopeful that the president will consider the House’s latest proposal.
When asked if she is frustrated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a high-profile first-term House member who has endorsed liberal challengers, Pelosi said she respected the New York lawmaker.
Pelosi also took aim at Trump for resisting calls to rename military bases honoring Confederate generals.
“Their names have to go,” Pelosi said. “I think the president once again is on the wrong track by not understanding that you don’t glorify white supremacy in our country.”
Pelosi said depictions of the nation’s Founding Fathers who owned slaves, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, should be reviewed, but not immediately brought down.
“I don’t think they should come down,” she said. But she said she is concerned about “glorifying” anyone who supported slavery or violence against Native Americans and is open to discussing how best to move forward.
“Rather than tearing down and defacing, why don’t we just have a review,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi spoke with The Post hours before the House voted on legislation that would overhaul policing nationwide, one month after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in police custody.
Pelosi said Senate Republicans should figure out how to come toward the House’s bill rather than the other way around.
“I don’t think the street will accept no action,” Pelosi said of protesters across the country. “We don’t want chokeholds. [Republicans] allow chokeholds. What are we going to compromise on? The number of chokeholds? This is irreconcilable. Some things are just not reconcilable, that’s it.”
While Pelosi’s focus Thursday was a policing overhaul, she said if Biden wins, she and other Democratic leaders would make health care the party’s priority next year.
“Our first priority will be what it has always been,” health care, Pelosi said.