AG Barr: Trump Tweets 'Make It
Impossible To Do My Job'
February 14, 2020
U.S. Attorney General William Barr says President Donald Trump's tweets
about the Justice Department, its people, and its cases "make it
impossible for me to do my job."
This surprising statement from one of the president's most steadfast
allies came Thursday, days after Barr's Justice Department overruled its
own prosecutors and recommended a lighter prison sentence for longtime
Trump friend Roger Stone, convicted of lying to Congress, witness
tampering and obstruction of justice in the Russian election meddling
Trump had complained that the seven-to-nine year recommended sentence
was "horrible" and "unfair." The decision to recommend to the court
giving Stone a lesser sentence came hours later. It is extremely rare
for the Justice Department to overrule its own attorneys in a criminal
case. The four prosecutors in the Stone case withdrew from case,
including one who resigned from the department.
In an interview Thursday with ABC News, Barr said Trump has never asked
him to "do anything in a criminal case."
"However, to have public statements and tweets about the department,
about our people in the department ... 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," Barr told ABC.
"I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody, whether it's
Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president," Barr added.
After the recommended sentence for Stone was cut, Trump tweeted his
congratulations to Barr for "taking charge of a case that was totally
out of control and perhaps should not have been brought."
But Trump denied asking Barr to intervene.
The situation has brought into question the Justice Department's
historic independence from any political influence. Democrats have
called for an investigation into what prompted the recommendation of a
lighter sentence for Stone. Barr is set to testify before a House
committee next month.
The White house has yet to respond to Barr's comments about Trump's
Earlier Thursday, the president reposted a Fox News story accusing
jurors in the Stone case of "political bias."
"This is not looking good for the Justice department," he wrote.
One of the jurors, Seth Cousins, told Reuters "it is appalling for the
president of the United States to be attacking American citizens for
patriotically fulfilling their duties." He said the new sentencing
recommendation for Stone makes "It feel like something outrageous is
Stone is a veteran political consultant who served as an adviser to a
number of Republican presidential candidates going back to Richard
Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign.
He is a close Trump ally and adviser. A jury convicted him in November
on seven counts of lying to investigators, witness tampering, and
obstruction stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to help Trump win
the 2016 election.
will be sentenced next week. The seven to nine years of prison
prosecutors sought was based on federal sentencing guidelines for such
crimes, but it will be up to the judge, Amy Berman Jackson, to decide
how long he should be locked up.
Trump continued to complain about Stone's conviction in an interview
with a Cleveland radio station Thursday.
"What am I going to do, sit back and let a man go to jail for maybe nine
years when murderers aren't going to jail?" Trump asked.
He said the four Justice Department prosecutors who left the case did
not leave for "moral reasons. I think they got caught in the act by me,"