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The Trump administration responded to criticisms from Attorney General William Barr on Thursday after Barr told ABC News that the president was making it “impossible” to do his job by constantly tweeting about the Department of Justice.
CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge reported that White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham made the following statement in response to Barr’s criticisms: “The President wasn’t bothered by the comments..he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions. #POTUS uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people…(and) has full faith and confidence in AG Barr.”
BREAKING: WH @PressSec “The President wasn’t bothered by the comments..he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions. #POTUS uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people…(and) has full faith and confidence in AG Barr.”
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) February 13, 2020
The remarks from the White House came in response to an interview that Barr gave to ABC News on Thursday where he said, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”
Barr said, “Public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women, 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.”
“I am responsible for everything that happens in the department. But the thing I have the most responsibility for are the issues that are brought to me for decision and I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I’m not going to be bullied, or influenced by anybody and I said at the whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president,” Barr continued. “I’m going to do what I think is right and I cannot do my job here at the department with constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
Barr made the remarks after Trump tweeted multiple times this week about the harsh sentencing recommendations that federal prosecutors were seeking against Roger Stone, a Trump ally.
“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
Barr and other top officials intervened the next day to lower the recommendation, but said that they did not do so because of the president’s tweets.
“The episode ignited a firestorm among rank-and-file lawyers at the Justice Department,” The New York Times reported. “While the officials blamed the original filing on a miscommunication and said they had intended to correct it even before Mr. Trump assailed it, four of the prosecutors working on the case withdrew.”
Trump later congratulated Barr, writing, “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. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
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. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
Stone was convicted of seven felonies for lying to Congress and obstructing a federal investigation.