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Barr jokingly asks Pelosi if she has handcuffs at Capitol Hill event

Updated 4:35 PM ET, Wed May 15, 2019

(CNN) - Attorney General Bill Barr asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi jokingly if she brought her handcuffs to an event the two public figures were attending on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning, according to two sources familiar with the exchange, in an apparent reference to the House considering holding the attorney general in contempt.

Barr and Pelosi were attending the National Peace Officers Memorial Day service at the Capitol on Wednesday when the exchange occurred. The two were in a holding tent adjacent to the platform, awaiting the President's arrival.

The quip was an obvious reference to the fact that the House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress, the latest volley in a fight between President Donald Trump's administration and House Democrats over oversight.

One source said Pelosi, "not missing a beat, smiled and indicated to the attorney general that the House sergeant-at-arms was present at the ceremony should an arrest be necessary."

Barr, the source said, "chuckled and walked away."

Last week, the House committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for not complying with a subpoena to supply the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The full House must next vote in order to hold Barr in contempt, something House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said earlier Wednesday would not happen until after Congress returned following the Memorial Day recess.

The jocular exchange is a more light-hearted moment in what has been a steadily escalating battle between the White House and House Democrats who are executing their oversight responsibilities to sharply scrutinize the Trump administration, as well as the President himself and his finances. The comments between Pelosi and Barr came hours before White House counsel Pat Cipollone, in a letter, flatly rejected the Judiciary Committee's request for documents related to their investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice.

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