Daily US Times, Washington: Attorney General William Barr signaled that he is considering resigning because of the president’s tweets. Washington Post first broke the news quoting a person close to him.
The news came days after Mr. Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it “impossible” for him to do his job. Trump responded the next day claiming he has the “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases and sidestep the Justice Department’s historical independence.
AP reported that the person is an administration official, but was not authorized to discuss Barr’s private remarks and requested anonymity.
It is unclear how serious is Mr. Barr about his resignation or he is trying to pressure Trump to back off his provocative tweets about the Justice Department.
His spokeswoman denied the news saying ‘he has no plans to resign’.
William Barr is considered to be one of the president’s closest allies in the administration and has been a staunch defender of Trump’s policy decisions. But considering resigning from his post suggests he sees the Justice Department’s reputation as an institution that makes decisions on criminal cases independently, unmoved and unbound by political sway, as more important than his allegiance to the president.
President Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he’s considering suing those involved in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and opined that his confidant Roger Stone deserved a new trial after being convicted of witness tampering and obstruction.
In an interview with the ABC, Mr. Barr said, “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
“To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases, 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,” the Attorney General added.
The criticism came out in a time when Barr is facing mounting scrutiny over his role in the fraught decision to publicly disavow prosecutors who had sought a stiff punishment for Stone, a longtime friend of Trump. Trump congratulated Barr for the move in a tweet, provoking an outcry from Democrats who demanded an investigation.
The next day Trump indicated that he is not changing his behavior.
But it is legally ambiguous whether the US president has the legal right or authority to order the attorney general to open or shut a case because the Justice Department has been meant to operate without political interference since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.
Trump has previously called for investigations into perceived enemies, such as former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The case against McCabe had closed by the Justice Department, the lawyers of the former FBI Deputy Director confirmed.