- REUTERS/Leah Millis
- Attorney General William Barr said in an interview aired Thursday that Trump’s efforts to influence the DOJ is making it “impossible for me to do my job” and suggested it’s time to “stop the tweeting.”
- “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr said.
- Trump initially responded that he “wasn’t bothered by [Barr’s] comments at all,” but on Friday morning he took to Twitter to claim that he has a “legal right” to tell his attorney general what to do.
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On Thursday, ABC News aired an interview with Attorney General William Barr in which he said the president’s efforts to influence the Department of Justice is making it “impossible for me to do my job” and suggested that his boss should “stop the tweeting.”
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. And I said, whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said. “I’m going to do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
He added, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”
But, Barr insisted, Trump had “never” asked him “to do anything in a criminal case.”
Trump frequently demands publicly via tweet that the Justice Department show leniency toward his associates and crack down on his perceived political enemies.
On Thursday, President Trump uncharacteristically claimed he “wasn’t bothered by [Barr’s] comments at all” and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement confirming the president had “full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.”
But on Friday morning, Trump took to Twitter to undermine Barr.
“‘The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.’ A.G. Barr This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” he wrote.
“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020
Trump has repeatedly demanded that the Justice Department initiate investigations into his political opponents, including former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter and former FBI director James Comey.
Barr told ABC that he wouldn’t follow an order from Trump to investigate a political opponent.
“If he were to say go investigate somebody, and you sense it’s because they’re a political opponent, then an attorney general shouldn’t carry that out, wouldn’t carry that out,” Barr said.
Earlier this week, four career prosecutors withdrew from the case against Trump’s longtime adviser and ally Roger Stone after the Justice Department decided to pursue a more lenient sentence for Stone. The DOJ’s move came shortly after Trump publicly criticized the lengthier sentence prosecutors wanted to pursue.
Sonam Sheth contributed to this report.