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

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrUS attorney blames Philadelphia DA for 'culture of disrespect' that led to police shootings GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation Nadler subpoenas Lewandowski, former White House official for testimony 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. 

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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 MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE's report. GOP Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Sanford headed to New Hampshire amid talk of challenge to Trump 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 ClintonThe return of Ken Starr Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Trump defends promoting conspiracy theory about Epstein's death: 'It was a retweet' MORE to not authorize the independent counsel statute during a probe into a land deal.