Attorney General William Barr is frustrated by President Trump’s Twitter habit.
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr said during an interview with ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas that aired on Thursday.
Barr’s comments were spurred by the president tweeting that the seven to nine-year sentence recommended by prosecutors in the Roger Stone case was a “miscarriage of justice,” despite it being within sentencing guidelines. Later that day, the DOJ reversed the recommendation and instead recommended a much shorter sentence for Stone — a longtime Trump associate, who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in November. This change prompted four U.S. attorneys to resign from the case, with one quitting the DOJ entirely.
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! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
Barr used the ABC interview to defend his department and deflect accusations of presidential interference, saying it was “preposterous” to claim the president directed him to lower the sentencing recommendation.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody… whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know… I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody….whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president," Bill Barr tells @ABC News.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 13, 2020
When asked whether he took issue with the president’s tweets, Barr responded, “Yes. Well, I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets. As I said at my confirmation hearing, I think the essential role of the attorney general is to keep law enforcement, the criminal process sacrosanct to make sure there is no political interference in it. And I have done that and I will continue to do that,” adding, “And I’m happy to say that, in fact, the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”
The president’s tweets, however, undermine his argument. After the DOJ made a new sentencing recommendation, Trump tweeted, “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.”