Barr Says Trump’s Comments About DOJ Cases Make It ‘Impossible to Do My Job’

Trump, 'never asked me to do anything in a criminal case'
February 13, 2020 Updated: February 13, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

Attorney General William Barr said he is not going to be influenced by anyone amid criticism from Democrats after the Department of Justice filed a sentencing memorandum in the Roger Stone case.

Barr told ABC News on Thursday that President Donald Trump has “never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” Barr also said that he is making decisions based on what he thinks “is the right thing to do.”

But he added, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.” He said that he has “a problem” with some of the president’s posts on Twitter.

Top Justice Department officials intervened in the sentencing of Stone, a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors had said that Stone should serve seven to nine years in prison.

“To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about 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,” Barr said, “and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

The ABC interviewer asked him about whether he is prepared to field any criticism from the president about his public comments.

“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Barr told ABC that he told his staff that the Department of Justice was going to amend its recommendation on Stone’s sentencing. Hours later, Trump wrote that it was a “horrible and unfair situation” that has befallen Stone.

Four prosecutors involved left the case earlier this week over the incident.

The attorney general said that he was placed in a rock-and-a-hard-place situation.

“Do you go forward with what you think is the right decision or do you pull back because of the tweet? And that just sort of illustrates how disruptive these tweets can be,” Barr said in the interview.

When he was asked about Trump’s Twitter posts, Barr added: “I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets. 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.”

At the same time, Trump praised Barr on Twitter for taking charge of the case.

His interview comes as the House Judiciary Committee confirmed that he will testify in front of the panel on March 31. House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and other House Democrats wrote a letter to Barr to confirm the hearing.

Senate Democrats have called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to call Barr to testify. And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also called for an investigation into the decision to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Stone.