President Donald Trump appeared to ignore the request of his attorney general on Friday, continuing to tweet about the Justice Department.
Attorney General William Barr criticized the president’s tweeting habits in an interview with ABC News, saying they “make it impossible” for him to do his job. Barr said Trump had never asked him to intervene in a criminal case, but said, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”
If the president’s tweets on Friday are any indication, it doesn’t appear he will heed that advice.
“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020
Trump’s tweet immediately caught the eye of reporters, many of whom noted that it appeared he would not be listening to Barr’s request. Yesterday, the president’s press secretary Stephanie Grisham insisted that the president was not upset with Barr for his comments to ABC News.
“The President wasn’t bothered by the comments at all, and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions,” she said.
After Barr’s comments, several prominent Republicans seemed to throw their support behind his request. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) told Fox News that Trump made a great choice by picking Barr for attorney general, adding, “I think the president should listen to his advice.”
Trump and Barr both came under fire this week after the Justice Department recanted a sentencing recommendation for former Trump advisor Roger Stone in the wake of the president’s critical tweets. The Justice Department’s decision to revise the sentencing request was widely perceived as the president stepping across a line and influencing the case. Barr is now expected to testify to Congress about the Justice Department’s decision.
While Trump insisted he has the right to ask the Justice Department to investigate any matter he wants, Barr made it clear he was working to keep the Justice Department independent of the president during his interview with ABC News.
“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.”