Feb 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr: Trump's Roger Stone tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job"

Bill Barr

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News in an interview Thursday that President Trump's "constant background commentary" about the Justice Department “make it impossible for me to do my job," adding, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases."

Why it matters: It's a rare public rebuke of the president by the attorney general, who has faced allegations of politicizing the Justice Department.

Driving the news: President Trump acknowledged in a tweet Wednesday that Barr had personally intervened to overrule career prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone. Trump congratulated Barr on Twitter for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought."

  • Stone was indicted in the Mueller investigation and convicted for lying about his efforts to find out more about the timing of WikiLeaks' release of damaging emails related to Hillary Clinton.
  • Trump has called the seven- to nine-year sentencing recommendation Stone initially received "a disgrace" and left open the possibility of a pardon.

What he's saying: Asked if he was prepared to take the blowback for criticizing the president, Barr responded: “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 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, whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards or the president. I’m gonna do what I think is right."

Barr said that with respect to the Stone decision, Trump's late-night tweet put him in an especially difficult position. Both the White House and Justice Department have insisted there was no coordination and that the decision to intervene in the Stone case was made before Trump's tweet.

  • “Do you go forward with what you think is the right decision or do you pull back because of the tweet? And that just sort of illustrates how disruptive these tweets can be,” he said.

In response to the interview, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued the following statement:

"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. [He has] full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law."

Go deeper: House Judiciary Committee says Barr has agreed to testify

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