Senate

Top Republicans back Barr amid criticism over controversial DOJ decisions

Top House and Senate Republicans issued a rare joint statement on Tuesday supporting Attorney General William Barr amid criticism over recent Justice Department decisions involving Trump associates.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) praised Barr as a “man of the highest character and unquestionable integrity.”

“Suggestions from outside groups that the Attorney General has fallen short of the responsibilities of his office are unfounded. The Attorney General has shown that he is committed without qualification to securing equal justice under law for all Americans,” they said.

They added that they expect “that, as always, efforts to intimidate the Attorney General will fall woefully short.”

Barr has faced mounting criticism about recent decisions made by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Last week, the department made the decision to override federal prosecutors and ask for a sentence of “far less” than the original seven to nine years recommended for Trump associate Roger Stone.

Stone was found guilty on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering. 

Trump praised Barr for “taking charge” of the case. The attorney general subsequently told ABC News that he had already planned to intervene in the sentencing recommendation before Trump tweeted his displeasure with the original DOJ recommendation.

Barr told ABC News that Trump’s tweets were “making it impossible” for him to do his job and suggested the president should stop tweeting about active Justice Department cases. 

McConnell, during a Fox News interview last week, backed Barr, saying Trump “ought to listen to” the attorney general’s advice. 

But the Justice Department’s decision sparked widespread calls among Democrats for Barr to testify, as well as renewed public demands from some lawmakers that he resign. 

More than 2,000 former DOJ employees, in a letter shared by the nonprofit watchdog group Project Democracy, have also called for him to resign, accusing him of doing the president’s “personal bidding.”

But Barr’s remarks on Trump also put him back in the hot seat among some Republicans. Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs said late last week that he was “so disappointed in Bill Barr.” 

“It is a damn shame when he doesn’t get what this president has gone through and what the American people have gone through and what his charge is as attorney general,” he added. 

Trump, however, stood up for Barr on Tuesday, saying he had “total confidence” in the attorney general.

“I think he is doing an excellent job,” he added.

Graham, McConnell and McCarthy added on Tuesday that Trump “chose … a strong and selfless public servant to lead the Department of Justice.”

The Justice Department’s decision on Stone came just before The New York Times reported late last week that Barr had taken the unusual step of asking outside prosecutors to review the criminal case against former Trump administration official Michael Flynn.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. informed former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s counsel on Friday that they will no longer seek criminal charges against McCabe, closing a high-profile case against the former official whose conduct during the 2016 election was scrutinized.

Tags Andrew McCabe Attorney general Kevin McCarthy Lindsey Graham Lou Dobbs Mitch McConnell Roger Stone Stone sentencing William Barr

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