Barr says he's working to protect presidency, not Trump

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr bemoans 'moral upheaval' that has brought 'suffering and misery' Trump threatens to sue Schiff and Pelosi Democratic lawmaker says Barr's reported meeting with Murdoch should be investigated MORE said in a new interview he views his role at the Justice Department as one where he can take action to protect his long-held belief in executive power. 

“I felt the rules were being changed to hurt Trump, and I thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul,” Barr told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Monday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

That belief, as well as a push from friends, led him to take on the position as attorney general again, Barr told the newspaper. He previously served in the role in President George H.W. Bush's administration. 

“At every grave juncture the presidency has done what it is supposed to do, which is to provide leadership and direction,” Barr said, arguing “if you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we’re going to be a much weaker and more divided nation.”

The comments from Barr come as he faces mounting scrutiny from Democrats over his handling of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE's report. GOP Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash says he's happy not feeling 'bound to a particular party' Amash on Syria: Trump's not ending anything Trump says House Democrats 'unfortunately' have the votes to impeach MORE (R-Mich.) also has taken issue with Barr, saying the four-page memo he released to Congress about Mueller's findings "deliberately misrepresented" the full report. 

Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian interference was released last month. The report said that the special counsel's probe did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that a conspiracy between the 2016 Trump campaign and Moscow took place. 

But the report also noted that Mueller could not come to a conclusive determination regarding obstruction of justice. 

Democrats have since called for more information regarding the investigation. The House Judiciary Committee earlier this month voted to hold Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena to turn over an unredacted version of the report and its underlying documents. 
 
Barr has stood by his decisions, and last week told Fox News the U.S. "should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale" during the course of the Russia investigation.
 
Barr last week assigned John H. Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to examine the origins of the investigation into Russia's election interference.
 
The Department of Justice has maintained that Barr's belief in executive power extends to Democrats and Republicans. The department told The Journal that he advised former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonA Republican Watergate veteran's perspective on a Trump impeachment Beware the 34th month of Trump's presidency How to survive an impeachment MORE to not authorize the independent counsel statute during a probe into a land deal.