WASHINGTON (ABC NEWS) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is supposed to be an independent department, but many are calling that in to question as recent moves may benefit President Trump.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Attorney General (AG) William Barr had a message for his boss.
“It’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” said DOJ Attorney General Barr.
But President Trump was undeterred.
Trump still tweeted on Friday about DOJ business, writing that while he has not asked Barr to intervene in a criminal case that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the legal right to do so.
Barr told ABC’s Pierre Thomas that the President’s tweet this week about the sentencing of the President’s longtime friend, Roger Stone, made it impossible for him to do his job.
“I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” said Attorney General Barr.
The interview comes as the Attorney General is facing growing criticism for overruling the career Justice Department prosecutors who tried the case and recommended a prison sentence for Stone, of seven to nine years that was within DOJ guidelines.
Stone was found guilty on all counts by a jury for witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstructing a Congressional investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 election.
After Barr overruled his own prosecutors, four of them quit the case in protest.
But Barr tells ABC News that he made his decision before the President’s tweet and never discussed Stone’s case with The White House.
Still, some Democrats are skeptical.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal tweeted that Barr is “doing exactly what the President wants” but just wishes “he’d stop tweeting about it.”
Barr will likely face more scrutiny after ordering a review of the prosecution of the President’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.
Two years ago, Flynn pleaded guilty to charges he lied to the FBI. He has since tried to withdraw that plea.
On Monday, the judge in that case indefinitely postponed his sentencing.
In a rare move, the Chief Judge of the Federal District Court for D.C. issued a statement that reads in part:
“The judges of this court base their sentencing decisions on careful consideration of the actual record. Public criticism or pressure is not a factor.”
A person familiar with Barr’s thinking told ABC News that Barr has privately expressed his frustration to President Trump for weeks about his public comments and tweets about Justice Department cases.