Attorney General William Barr drew a line in the sand on Thursday in an interview with ABC News after President Donald Trump repeatedly tweeted about the sentencing of Trump ally Roger Stone. Barr said that he cannot do his job effectively with constant Twitter commentary from the president.
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News. “Public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women, 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.”
On whether he was prepared to face potential backlash from the president over his remarks, Barr said, “Of course, as I said during my confirmation, I came in to serve as attorney general.”
“I am responsible for everything that happens in the department. But the thing I have the most responsibility for are the issues that are brought to me for decision and I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I’m not going to be bullied, or influenced by anybody and I said at the whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president,” Barr continued. “I’m going to do what I think is right and I cannot do my job here at the department with constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
EXCLUSIVE: “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Attorney General Bill Barr tells @PierreTABC following Pres. Trump's tweets on Roger Stone sentencing. https://t.co/3bf9a1Z5v4 pic.twitter.com/yITwRgzutJ
— ABC News (@ABC) February 13, 2020
Barr’s remarks come after Department of Justice officials intervened in the sentencing of Stone this week after prosecutors sought a heavy-handed 9-year prison sentence for Stone.
“When news outlets reported the seven to nine year sentencing recommendation last Monday, Barr said he thought it was spin,” ABC News reported. “The blowback from such an unprecedented move by the Justice Department leadership was immediate, both internally among the rank-and-file and in Congress. The entire four-man DOJ prosecution team withdrew from the case, and one prosecutor resigned from the Justice Department entirely. Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Judiciary Committee that oversees the Justice Department and one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, said the president should not have tweeted about an ongoing case.”
Throughout the week, Trump has repeatedly tweeted about the case, saying, “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
“Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started?” Trump later added. “13 Angry Democrats?”
Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started? 13 Angry Democrats?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
Trump later congratulated Barr, writing, “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”