With Democrats whipped into a lather over his intervention in the over-the-top sentencing of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News that President Trump “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”
At the same time, Barr was very critical of the president for tweeting about active criminal cases, saying these efforts “make it impossible for me to do my job.”
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr said.
ABC News chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas asked the attorney general if he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing Trump.
“Of course,” Barr answered, adding that his responsibility in heading up the Justice Department includes making decisions on “what I think is the right thing to do.”
(Source: ABC News)
Democrats, to include struggling 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, ridiculously called for Barr to be impeached for getting involved in the Stone case, and the media reported breathlessly he was breaking with President Trump, characterizing his remarks as a declaration of independence.
But if they were waiting for the president to blast the attorney general, who shares Trump’s view that he has been targeted unfairly, they’d be set for disappointment, as the White House downplayed the story.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump “wasn’t bothered” by Barr’s remarks and has “full faith and confidence” in him — the press secretary also defended the president’s tweeting.
“The president wasn’t bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions,” Grisham said. “President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news. The President has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.”
Barr stressed to ABC News that he is responsible for everything that happens at the DOJ and that he will make decisions “based on what I think is the right thing to do,” and that Trump’s public remarks make that job all the more difficult.
“To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases — make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity,” he said.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. And I said at the time, whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards or the president,” he added. “I’m going to do what I think is right. And I think, I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
On the controversy over the sentence recommendation for Stone, Barr told ABC News that he has not discussed the matter with the president. He said he was surprised to learn his prosecutors sought a nine-year prison term, because that wasn’t consistent with what had previously been discussed and because it did not seem “fair and reasonable.”
“I was very surprised,” Barr said. “Once I confirmed that that’s actually what we filed, I said that night to my staff that we had to get ready because we had to do something in the morning to amend that, and clarify what our position was.”
All of this occurring before Trump began tweeting on the matter — Barr also said all the dust-up over him supposedly intervening as attorney general was “preposterous.”
The president tweeted the harsh recommendation was “a horrible and very unfair situation,” calling it a “miscarriage of justice.”
In an interview with Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Trump should heed Barr’s advice about tweeting on active cases.
“If the Attorney General says it is getting in the way of him doing his job, maybe the president should listen to the Attorney General,” McConnell said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took to Twitter shortly after Barr’s remarks were reported, saying the attorney general has his “complete confidence” and praising the president for appointing Barr.
“President Trump, in selecting Bill Barr to be Attorney General, has done a great service to the people serving in @TheJusticeDept and our nation as a whole,” Graham tweeted. “He is the right man at the right time to reform the Department and stand up for the Rule of Law. Attorney General Barr has my complete confidence.”
He is the right man at the right time to reform the Department and stand up for the Rule of Law.
Attorney General Barr has my complete confidence.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 13, 2020
On the flip side, fresh off the Democratic Party’s impeachment debacle that blew up in their faces, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Trump of abusing the power of his office by commenting on the sentencing of Stone.
Perhaps cueing up for round two in trying to impeach the president, she called for an investigation.
“We also saw the president this week demonstrate once again that he has no respect for the rule of law,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday, accusing Trump of “engaging in political interference.”
“This is an abuse of power,” she claimed. “The president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interests.”
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