Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said President Trump should follow Attorney General William Barr’s advice after the top Justice Department official said the president’s tweeting was making it “impossible” to do his job.
Asked during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier about Barr’s comments
, McConnell said that “the president should listen to his advice.”
“If the Attorney General says it is getting in the way of him doing his job, maybe the president should listen to the Attorney General,” McConnell added, asked if he didn’t like the president’s tweets.
Barr said during an interview with ABC News that he thought it was “time to stop tweeting” about DOJ criminal cases — a rare break with Trump.
“The public statements and tweets … make it impossible to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we are doing our work with integrity,” Barr told ABC News.
Barr’s remarks followed days of growing scandal over the Justice Department’s decision to ask for a lesser sentence for Trump associate Roger Stone. The request contradicted an initial seven-to-nine-year recommendation made by frontline federal prosecutors and came after Trump publicly criticized the initial recommendation.
Further raising questions about Barr’s role, Trump tweeted on Wednesday praising the attorney general for “taking charge” of the case — despite the attorney general having not weighed in on it publicly.
McConnell declined to say on Thursday if he thought Trump’s tweets on the Stone case were “inappropriate,” instead turning the conversation back to Barr.
“The attorney general has said it’s making it difficult for him to do his job. I think the president ought to listen to the attorney general. …The president made a wise selection in picking Bill Barr. I think he ought to listen to him,” McConnell added.
McConnell similarly demurred when asked if he was worried that Trump was politicizing the Department of Justice.
“I hate to keep saying the same thing,” McConnell said. “I think the attorney general knows what he is talking about. … I think he’s told the president this is not helpful, making it difficult for him to do his job, I think the president ought to listen to him.”
Trump has denied that his tweets criticizing the initial recommendation from federal prosecutors constituted political interference.
“Not at all. He was treated very badly. Nine years recommended by four people that, perhaps they were Mueller people, I don’t know who they were, prosecutors,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, referring to former special counsel Robert Mueller. “I don’t know what happened, they all hit the road pretty quickly.”
Trump also said this week that he did not ask the Justice Department to ask for a lesser sentence for Stone.
Democrats have seized on Trump’s comments, and the Justice Department’s actions, arguing that it shows political interference within DOJ to help a Trump associate.
The resulting fallout created a days-long headache for Republicans, some of whom publicly urged the president
to refrain from weighing in on potential sentences.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters that Trump “should not have gotten involved.
“I think the president would be better served by never commenting on a pending federal investigations,” she said.
Trump tweeted about the initial sentence recommendation on Tuesday calling it “horrible and very unfair situation.”
“The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Trump tweeted.
McConnell was asked on Tuesday during a weekly press conference if he was concerned about favoritism, but told reporters that he didn’t “have an opinion on that.”
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