Rumors started flying earlier this week when reports alleged that Attorney General Bill Barr had suggested to colleagues he would be quitting his job at the Department of Justice (DOJ) over President Donald Trump’s frequent tweets about DOJ matters. But according to a report from Fox News, the Justice Department is now putting an end to the speculation.
“Addressing Beltway rumors: The Attorney General has no plans to resign,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec announced in a tweet Tuesday night, according to Fox.
A problem with tweets
The speculation over Barr’s future at the Justice Department first mounted after Barr told ABC News last week that the president’s tweets about DOJ matters had created difficulties for him in the handling of the case of Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate who was convicted late last year of lying to Congress.
Barr received criticism and calls to resign after the DOJ intervened in Stone’s case, overruling prosecutors who originally wanted a sentence of up to nine years for Stone, according to USA Today. The attorney general, for his part, believed such punishment would be too harsh.
But the AG’s decision was complicated by Trump’s flurry of tweets denouncing both Stone’s trial and the judge that presided over it. The tweets led some to believe that the president had asked Barr to intervene, an allegation the attorney general starkly denied.
“I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets,” Barr complained in his ABC interview. “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.”
The attorney general went on: “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.”
A good working relationship
In an article published soon after Barr’s talk with ABC, The Washington Post quoted unnamed insiders as saying that the attorney general was considering turning in his resignation over Trump’s tweets. And it didn’t help matters when Trump conceded Tuesday that he agreed with Barr on at least one point: “I do make his job harder,” the president said, according to The Hill.
“I do agree on that,” the president continued, noting that his social media presence is “very powerful.” But the president didn’t indicate that he will be slowing down when it comes to tweeting.
Still, he went on to praise Barr as “a man of great integrity,” adding: “We have a great attorney general and he’s working very hard.”
Barr, for his part, has spoken highly of his working relationship with President Trump in the past. According to the Daily Caller, Barr said in an interview last month that Trump is “very easy to work with” and “has a good sense of humor.”
“He’ll reach down and bring the experts in,” Barr said. “And he listens.”