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

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations EXCLUSIVE: Trump declines to say he has confidence in FBI director 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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE's report. GOP Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question Amash after Trump says he doesn't need Congress's approval to strike Iran: 'Constitution: Wrong' Top Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan 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 Evergreen State and the soul of the Democratic Party Biden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility Democrats not keen to reignite Jerusalem embassy fight MORE to not authorize the independent counsel statute during a probe into a land deal.