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US Attorney General William Barr says Trump tweets made it 'impossible for him to do his job'
13 February 2020, 22:08
US Attorney General William Barr has slammed President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter, claiming it made it “impossible for me to do my job.”
Mr Barr made the explosive comments while discussing the controversial decision by the Justice Department to intervene in the sentencing of Mr Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone.
Stone had been sentenced to seven to nine years behind bars, but the Justice Department overruled prosecutors and said it would take the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek for President Donald Trump's long-time ally and confidant.
Mr Barr insists he did not intervene on behalf of the President, saying Mr Trump had “never asked me to do anything in a criminal case,” but did call for him to stop tweeting about cases involving his friends and associates.
After the original sentencing, Mr Trump said on Twitter that the original recommendation was "horrible and very unfair,” with the Justice Department’s announcement coming hours later.
In an interview with ABC News, Mr Barr said: “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.
“I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody, whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president.
“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.”
He also said Mr Trump’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
Mr Barr has been a steady ally of the president's since taking the position.
This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
Last year, he cleared the president of obstruction of justice even when special counsel Robert Mueller had pointedly declined to do so, and has declared that the FBI's Russia investigation, which resulted in charges against Stone, had been based on a "bogus narrative".
The department insisted the decision to undo the sentencing recommendation was made before Mr Trump's tweet, and prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.
But the four lawyers who prosecuted Stone quit after they were overruled, raising questions over whether the President had at least indirectly exerted his will on a Justice Department that he often views as an arm of the White House.
The episode was the latest to entangle the Justice Department, meant to operate free from White House sway in criminal investigations and prosecutions, in presidential politics.
The four lawyers, including two who were early members of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia team, comprised the entire Justice Department trial team that won convictions against Stone last autumn.