Barr went on network TV Thursday night, amid a wave of criticism over the Justice Department overruling prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation for Trump crony Roger Stone. Trump’s tweeting was making it “impossible for me to do my job, to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity,” the attorney general told ABC News, focusing his criticism on Trump’s Twitter habit rather than his clear attempt to influence a criminal investigation.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody, whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr continued. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know, I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
On Friday, Trump hit back by reminding Barr that he has the “legal right” to intervene in federal criminal cases if he wants, but, “I have so far chosen not to!”
Given Barr’s notorious view of expansive executive power, it’s not hard to see why Trump believes he’s got the full run of the Justice Department. In June 2018, before his nomination for a second stint as attorney general, Barr wrote an unsolicited memo arguing that the investigation into whether or not Trump had obstructed justice by firing James Comey was “legally insupportable” because Trump had the right to fire Comey an insubordinate.
Barr’s latest Trump-induced headache came after Justice Department prosecutors recommended up to 9 years in prison for Trump confidante and political operator Roger Stone on Monday. In an early morning Tuesday tweet, Trump called the recommended sentence a “miscarriage of justice!”
That day, the Justice Department submitted a new sentencing memo recommending “far less” than the initial recommended sentence, with an unnamed DOJ official calling the initial recommendation “extreme, excessive, and grossly disproportionate to Mr. Stone’s offenses.”
Following the change in sentencing recommendation, the entire prosecution team withdrew from the case, and one even quit his DOJ job completely. On Thursday, the U.S. attorney whose office oversaw the prosecution resigned from the administration.