Feb 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he has "legal right" to ask Barr to intervene in criminal cases

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Trump tweeted Friday that he has "the legal right" to ask Attorney General Bill Barr to intervene in criminal cases, saying that he has "so far chosen not to."

Why it matters: The tweet comes just one day after Barr said Trump's tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job" and publicly advised the president that "it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases."

What Trump's saying:

"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!

The big picture: Barr's statement during an ABC News interview Thursday was a rare public rebuke of the president by the attorney general, who has faced allegations of politicizing the Justice Department.

  • White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham later said that Trump has "full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law."

Go deeper

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

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.

Over 1,100 former DOJ officials call for Barr's resignation

Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

More than 1,100 former Justice Department officials who have served both Republican and Democratic administrations have signed onto a statement condemning Attorney General Bill Barr's intervention in the sentencing of President Trump's associate Roger Stone, arguing that his actions "require" him to resign.

The big picture: Barr is facing widespread condemnation from Democrats for taking a hands-on role in a number of politically sensitive investigations, including the Stone case, a review of the origins of the Russia probe, and most recently the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Reports: Barr is considering leaving over Trump's tweets

Attorney General Bill Barr during a Detroit event in December. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Bill Barr's spokesperson tweeted Tuesday night the "Attorney General has no plans to resign" after multiple reports said he's considering leaving the administration over President Trump's tweets on the Justice Department.

Between the lines, per Axios' Jonathan Swan: Barr has made clear to Trump, both publicly and, repeatedly, in private conversations, that he can’t do his job if the president keeps publicly commenting on Justice Department criminal cases. Trump chose to ignore that warning on Tuesday, and a source familiar with the situation said it made a bad situation worse.

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