In a surprising turn of events, Attorney General Bill Barr publicly complained to ABC News about how the President’s tweets are degrading his ability to do his job, which lately appears to consist of dishing out political favors to convicted Trump allies.
Barr is under fire for personally interfering in the Mueller investigation’s final case, the charging and conviction of Roger Stone for lying to Congress over the Trump-Russia affair. “I cannot do my job here at the Department [of Justice],” said Barr, “with constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
In his remarks today, the Attorney General also claimed without evidence that he had already decided to seek a downward amendment to Stone’s sentencing memo, in which prosecutors sought 7-9 years behind bars for Trump’s former top campaign advisor before Trump tweeted about the case. Barr pretended to be upset that the president had beaten him to the punch, according to ABC:
“Once the tweet occurred, the question is; well, ‘Now, what do I do?’ Do you go forward with what you think is the right decision or do you pull back because of the tweet?”
Bill Barr didn’t announce that he personally intervened in Roger Stone’s case to overrule the line prosecutors, but Donald Trump through his Twitter.
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Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
“To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, about our men and women here; about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases,” Barr continued with ABC News today, “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the pros in the dept that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
The Attorney General is 100% correct; Trump’s tweets have clearly exposed the appearance of wrongdoing by Barr at the Department of Justice.
Trump’s big reveal on Twitter is “giving grist to the mill” according to Barr, which is his way of blaming the President for ongoing backlash, explaining that “the fact that the tweets are out there and they correspond to things that are at the Department” is an issue.
Bill Barr then took the daring step of appearing to tell his boss to stop tweeting.
Indeed, the backlash for that appearance of wrongdoing has already driven the New York City Bar Association to take the rare step of going public with demands for both a Congressional investigation and an inquiry by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz. They wrote:
These Unusual Events Reflect Disregard for the Rule of Law
“The events that have transpired in the past two days are highly unusual and irregular. The Department of Justice is not in the habit of taking one position in court and then, without explanation, taking a startling different position on the very next day.”
Of course, Bill Barr used much of the ABC interview to claim that he’s not in direct contact with Trump, and claim that he’s acting independently.
Furthermore, NBC’s reporting about the departure of the former DC US Attorney Jessie Liu, who oversaw Stone’s prosecution, strongly suggests a link between Trump’s decision to appoint her to the Treasury Department and Barr’s efforts to reduce sentencing recommendations for the President’s convicted felon friends. Barr got prosecutors from the same office to drop their demands that former Trump National Security Advisor Gen. Mike Flynn spend time in jail after blowing his cooperation agreement.
Bill Barr’s public “attack” on Donald Trump is almost certainly a smokescreen to take the heat off of him, since the President already announced that he wasn’t bothered by Barr’s comments.
Trump is not upset with Barr after his comments to ABC, I’m told.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 13, 2020
But the Attorney General’s position that Trump’s tweets are destructive and paralyzing has become the shameful norm for our federal government during this dark era, and there’s no sign that anyone at the White House is going to take the President’s Twitter account away for his own good or to even help his hatchet man finish all of the covering-up that the criminal in the Oval Office needs.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition