For much of this week, there have been whispers in the air that Attorney General Bill Barr is planning to step down. But on Tuesday, that speculation was put to rest, the Washington Examiner reports.
“Addressing Beltway rumors,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a tweet, “the Attorney General has no plans to resign.”
Tension over tweets
Kupec’s statement came after the Washington Post quoted anonymous sources who suggested that Barr has become disillusioned by President Donald Trump’s conduct, particularly his outspokenness on several controversial matters under the DOJ’s purview. “He has his limits,” one of those sources told the paper.
Barr has publicly expressed frustration with Trump in recent days, particularly with regard to his tweets concerning the Roger Stone criminal case. Stone is a longtime Trump associate who was convicted earlier this year of witness tampering and lying to Congress.
Federal prosecutors originally sought a seven t0 nine-year sentence for Stone, but the Justice Department revised that recommendation, arguing the proposed punishment was disproportionate to the offenses committed.
The adjustment to the sentencing recommendation was made public at the same time the president unleashed a flurry of tweets directed towards the judge in Stone’s case and the prosecutors who secured his conviction. Barr subsequently aired his dissatisfaction with the public nature of Trump’s dissent during an ABC News interview, calling the president’s social media activity “disruptive.”
Barr lamented that “to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, 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.”
He went on to add that the president’s online habit of “attacking the judge, you know, it is not helpful or productive at all.”
For his part, Trump conceded that it is possible that his conduct has complicated matters for Barr, telling reporters on the White House lawn Tuesday that “I do make his job harder,” according to The Hill.
“I have total confidence in my attorney general. I think he is doing an excellent job,” Trump continued, calling Barr “a man with great integrity.”
Barr’s refusal to step down will be a crushing disappointment to his innumerable detractors, including more than 2,000 former DOJ employees who have signed a letter calling for his resignation.
Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has ratcheted up the rhetoric even further, saying Barr is a “henchman and political operative” who must go immediately.