Washington February 14, 2020 (GNP) : US Attorney General Bill Barr on Thursday delivered a highly unusual public rebuke of Donald Trump, saying the president´s tweets were making his job at the Justice Department “impossible.”
“I have a problem with some of the tweets,” Barr said in an interview with ABC News, adding: “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
“I think it´s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” said Barr.
His interview came as Trump stands accused of interfering with the sentencing recommendation for his former advisor, Roger Stone — prompting four Justice Department prosecutors to resign from the case this week.
The outburst was all the more remarkable as Barr has emerged as a powerful defender of Trump, earning the nickname of the “president´s attorney” from critics.
Barr has been at the center of allegations that he decided — allegedly under pressure from Trump — to overrule his own prosecutors and seek a lighter prison sentence for Stone.
He has previously been criticised by Democrats and legal experts for seeming to assist Trump during the independent investigation into whether the president was helped by a Russian influence campaign during the 2016 election.
The two men are so close that there was immediate speculation that Barr´s television interview may have been more about managing public opinion than a real outcry against Trump´s alleged interference in judicial affairs.
The controversy comes about a week after the Senate acquitted Trump of impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations, including into Trump´s political opponent Joe Biden.
Another staunch Trump ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, supported Barr´s comments about the tweets.
“If the attorney general says it´s getting in the way of doing his job, maybe the president should listen to the attorney general,” McConnell told Fox News.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Trump had “full faith” in Barr.
“The president wasn´t bothered by the comments at all,” she said in a statement.
That message was amplified by Trump´s National Security Advisor who insisted the president has “tremendous confidence” in Barr.
“He´s a fantastic member of the cabinet, he has a very strong relationship with the president,” Robert O´Brien told reporters at the White House. (GNP)