Tension seems to have escalated recently between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr. In a tweet Friday, Trump quoted his attorney general as saying, “’The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.’”
“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do,” Trump added, “but I have so far chosen not to!”
The president’s tweet came after critical remarks that Barr made during an interview with ABC News on Thursday. Speaking of Trump’s tweets regarding the Roger Stone case, Barr said, “I don’t read tweets unless they’re brought to my attention.”
Barr complains about “disruptive” tweets
However, he complained that they are “disruptive” to his work at the Department of Justice.
“Well, I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets,” Barr continued. “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.”
Barr made it a point to note that he is “happy to say that, in fact the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”
“However,” he asserted, “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.”
Barr went on to add, “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
The attorney general concluded by saying, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”
No interference in Stone case
When asked whether Trump or “anybody at the White House” had called in an attempt to influence his decision-making process in the Stone case, Barr offered an unequivocal denial, stating that it “never” happened.
“No,” he insisted. “Nope. [crosstalk] have not discussed the Roger Stone case at the White House.”
Barr assumed office last year after the departure of his predecessor, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions and Trump were famous for having a contentious relationship.