Trump ignores AG Barr's request to stop tweeting about DOJ




  • In World
  • 2020-02-14 14:50:07Z
  • By Associated Press
Trump ignores AG Barr\
Trump ignores AG Barr\'s request to stop tweeting about DOJ  

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Friday ignored his attorney general's public request to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, saying he had the legal right to ask the agency to intervene in a criminal case, but he's so far "chosen not to."

Trump's Friday morning tweet came just hours after Attorney General William Barr said in a striking interview with ABC News that the president's tweets were making it "impossible" to do his job, especially following the department's bungled handling of the sentencing recommendation for Trump ally and confidant Roger Stone.

Trump, in his tweet, also left open the possibility that he would ask Barr for something in a criminal matter in the future.

While technically as the president, Trump has the right to compel the Justice Department to investigate as an executive branch agency. But historically, the Justice Department has functioned as an independent agency, unmoved and unbound by political sway. And that reputation is important to Barr, as he made clear in the interview.

"I'm happy to say that, in fact, the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case," Barr told ABC. "However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people ... 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 was directly asked whether he believed Trump had the authority to direct him to open an investigation.

"Terrorism or fraud by a bank or something like that where he's concerned about something, he can certainly say I think someone should look into that. That's perfectly appropriate," Barr said. "If he were to say, you know, go investigate somebody because - and you sense it's because they're a political opponent, then an attorney general shouldn't carry that out, wouldn't carry that out."

Trump has publicly and privately raged about payback in the form of investigations against his perceived enemies, including former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and he's also pressed for investigations into political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, especially following Trump's impeachment acquittal over a phone call where he asked Ukraine's leaders to investigate the Bidens.

After the interview Thursday evening, the White House offered a tempered response that Trump "wasn't bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions."

But the president on Friday quoted one of Barr's comments in the interview: "The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case." A.G. Barr - and then Trump added in his tweet - "This doesn't mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!"

Earlier this week, the Justice Department overruled its own prosecutors - who had recommended in a court filing that Trump's longtime ally and confidant Roger Stone be sentenced to 7 to 9 years in prison - and took the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek. The department didn't offer an amended number. The entire trial team quit the case after the amended filing, one quit the DOJ altogether.

And Barr faced intense criticism over the decision because it came just hours after Trump tweeted his displeasure about the recommendation.

Stone was convicted in November of tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election. He's scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Barr himself has been under fire for the reversal. Still, it was a highly unusual move for a member of the Cabinet to publicly criticize the president - especially a Trump loyalist who shares the president's views on expansive executive powers. Thursday's comment served as a defense of his own integrity - an effort to salvage his own reputation and that of the Department of Justice by publicly rebuking the president he's propped up from Day One of his tenure.

The remarks, made so quickly after the decision to back away from the sentencing recommendation, suggested Barr was aware the reversal had chipped away at the department's historic reputation for independence from political sway. But he stopped short of acknowledging wrongdoing by anyone.

Barr said Trump's tweets created perception problems for the department that called into question its independence, but he denied there was any order from Trump and said Trump's tweets did not factor into the decision.

The department insisted the decision to undo the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night - before Trump blasted the recommendation on Twitter as "very horrible and unfair"- and prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.

Barr joined a roster of high-level aides who have publicly criticized Trump, though the rest left the job first. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton is to publish a book next month detailing his time in the White House including criticism of Trump actions such as his decision to withhold military assistance while seeking a political favor from Ukraine. And former Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has largely kept a low profile since leaving the White House, has grown more open about his unflattering assessments of the president.

___

Associated Press Writers Deb Riechmann, Zeke Miller, Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Barr mulls resigning over Trump
Barr mulls resigning over Trump's tweets: Sources
  • US
  • 2020-02-19 03:38:00Z

Just hours after President Donald Trump openly defied his public pleas to stop tweeting about criminal matters in the Justice Department, Attorney General Bill Barr told people close to Trump Tuesday that he is considering resigning over the tweets that Barr had previously said make it "impossible" to

Trump says he
Trump says he's commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
  • US
  • 2020-02-18 18:48:00Z

President Donald Trump has commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, a Democrat, was convicted in 2011 by a federal jury in Chicago on 17 counts, including an attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated when President Barack Obama was elected in 2008.

Pelosi Objects to CNN Anchor
Pelosi Objects to CNN Anchor's Claim That Trump Was Acquitted in Impeachment Trial

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) interjected during an interview Saturday to make the case that President Trump was not acquitted from impeachment because his Senate trial lacked additional witnesses and documents demanded by Senate Democrats."You can't have an acquittal unless you have a trial, and you can't have a trial unless you have witnesses and documents - so he can say he's acquitted, and the headlines can say 'acquitted,' but he's impeached forever: branded with that, and not vindicated," Pelosi argued.> His enablers in Washington may have chosen to betray their oath of impartial justice and cover up his abuses of power, but the fact remains: The President is impeached...

Trump
Trump's campaign manager deletes photo of Air Force One at Daytona 500 after users point out it was from 2004

The photo was of President George W. Bush's departure from the Daytona 500 in 2004, Twitter users pointed out. Brad Parscale later posted a new photo.

Democrats Plan to Highlight Health Care and Jobs Over Investigating Trump
Democrats Plan to Highlight Health Care and Jobs Over Investigating Trump

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats, recovering from their failed push to remove President Donald Trump from office, are making a sharp pivot to talking about health care and economic issues, turning away from their investigations of the president as they focus on preserving their majority.Top Democrats said

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World