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Attorney General Bill Barr told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he does not read President Trump's tweets after being grilled by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) about the president's praise for Roger Stone for not testifying against him.

Why it matters: Barr has previously said that Trump's "constant background commentary" about the Justice Department can "make it impossible" for him to do his job. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress about his efforts to find out more about the timing of WikiLeaks' email dumps and recently had his sentence commuted by Trump.

The big picture: Trump testified in written answers to former special counsel Robert Mueller that he did not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. Evidence from Stone's trial and recently unredacted material from the Mueller report suggest the opposite.

  • Stone later told journalist Howard Fineman: "I had 29 or 30 conversations with Trump during the campaign period. He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t. They wanted me to play Judas. I refused."
  • Democrats have accused Trump of commuting Stone's sentence to ensure that Stone would not incriminate him.

The exchange:

SWALWELL: "If Donald Trump lied to the Mueller investigators, which you agree would be a crime, then Roger Stone was in a position to expose Donald Trump's lies. Are you familiar with the Dec. 3, 2018, tweet where Donald Trump said Roger Stone had shown guts by not testifying against him?"
BARR: "No, I am not familiar with that."
SWALWELL: "You don't read the president's tweets?"
BARR: "No."
SWALWELL: "Well there's a lot of evidence in the president's tweets, Mr. Attorney General, I think you should start reading them."

Go deeper

DOJ says Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents are not orders

llustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Attorneys from the Department of Justice argued in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the "total declassification of any & all documents" related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails should not be considered real declassification orders.

Why it matters: BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold cited the tweets in an emergency motion last week seeking to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

COVID cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to plummet all across the U.S.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging roughly 70,000 new cases per day, a 20% drop over the past two weeks.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

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