Attorney General William Barr took the unusual step Thursday of going on President Trump's favorite medium, TV, to complain that Trump's tweeting about Roger Stone's sentence and other Justice Department matters makes it "impossible for me to do my job." Barr's criticism wouldn't have come as a surprise to Trump, a person familiar with the situation tells Politico. "The attorney general had talked to the president a number of times and told him he was getting frustrated with these statements."
Congressional Republicans agreed with Barr that Trump should curb his tweeting. Democrats suggested Barr was really complaining that Trump is making it "impossible" to quietly do his bidding.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump "wasn't bothered by the comments." This "benign response from the White House prompted speculation from some quarters that Barr's message was aimed more at calming the furor at the Justice Department over the episode than actually scolding Trump," Politico reports. Not all of Trump's allies responded so benignly, though. "I am so disappointed in Bill Barr," Fox Business host Lou Dobbs exclaimed Thursday night. Barr's job is to stomp out "the deep state," not join it, he said. "I don't want to hear any crap about an independent Justice Department. This Justice Department, as does every one, works for the president."
Lou Dobbs attacks Bill Barr, suggests he's part of the "deep state," calls the Justice Department "rancid, corrupt" pic.twitter.com/PzjnieGrlK
- Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) February 14, 2020
Dobbs was giving public voice to months of Trump's behind-the-scenes raging "toward the Justice Department - more about whom the department has not charged with crimes than about whom it has charged," like Stone, The Washington Post reports. After Barr's Justice Department declined to charge former FBI Director James Comey, for example, Trump "complained so loudly and swore so frequently in the Oval Office that some of his aides discussed it for days."
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick noted the disconnect between congressional Republicans always waving off Trump's tweeted attacks on various targets - judges, jurors, New York - and "Bill Barr saying, 'Oh, no, these tweets are ... real and they're consequential, and they're making it hard to do my job.'" It's "just head-snapping," she said on MSNBC, "that we can't pick whether these tweets are a joke or whether they're real."
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