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

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBarr praises Seattle police chief as officers clear protest zone Judge strikes down Trump administration rule denying asylum to most migrants at southern border Supreme Court declines challenge to DOJ execution method 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. 


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) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's report. GOP Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashMichigan candidate's daughter urges people not to vote for him in viral tweet Can Trump break his 46 percent ceiling? NFL to close offices for Juneteenth, making it an official league holiday 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 ClintonPoll finds Biden with narrow lead over Trump in Missouri Trump's mark on federal courts could last decades Obama, Clinton join virtual celebration for Negro Leagues MORE to not authorize the independent counsel statute during a probe into a land deal.