Trump says he has ‘total confidence’ in Barr
President Trump said Tuesday that he had “total confidence” in Attorney General William Barr and acknowledged that he makes his top law enforcement officer’s job “harder” with his tweets.
“I have total confidence in my attorney general,” Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews. “I think he is doing an excellent job.”
Trump also defended his tweets about the criminal case against his longtime associate, Roger Stone, which caused Barr to make a rare and public statement last week urging Trump to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases.
“Somebody has to stick up for the people,” Trump told reporters, referring to Stone and other associates he believes have been mistreated by federal prosecutors. “My social media is very powerful.”
Asked about Barr’s comments in an interview with ABC News last week, Trump said he agreed that his tweets make the attorney general’s job harder, but continued to defend his public statements about the Stone case.
“I do make his job harder. I do agree on that,” Trump said. “We have a great attorney general and he’s working very hard.”
Trump described Barr as a man with “great integrity.”
The president also maintained that he has the right to intervene in ongoing criminal cases but chose not to, referring to Stone’s case.
“I chose not to be involved,” Trump said. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.”
Trump maintained that Stone and other associates of his 2016 campaign who were charged in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were treated unfairly, specifically naming former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump’s remarks come days before Stone, who was convicted in November of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a proceeding, is set to be sentenced in federal court in Washington, D.C. Trump said he had not considered whether he would pardon Stone, Flynn or his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is serving a federal sentence for crimes uncovered during Mueller’s investigation.
The president sparked a firestorm last week when he tweeted that a seven- to nine-year sentence that federal prosecutors recommended Stone face was unfair and a “miscarriage of justice.”
Hours later, Justice Department leaders reduced the recommendation, calling Stone to be sentenced to far less. The developments spurred speculation that the Justice Department had reversed course under pressure from the president.
Barr told ABC News in a bombshell interview last Thursday that Trump had never asked him to do anything with respect to a criminal case. But he also urged the president to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases and prosecutors, saying that the president’s public comments about such matters make it “impossible for me to do my job.”
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC.
The remarks represented a rare break between the attorney general and the president, though the White House insisted Trump was not bothered by Barr’s statements. Trump has continued to tweet about Stone’s case. On Tuesday morning, the president suggested he could sue over the Mueller probe.
–This report was updated at 2:29 p.m.