Washington, Feb 14: US Attorney General William Barr has called on President Donald Trump to stop commenting on ongoing criminal cases via Twitter since it undercuts the Justice Department’s work.
The US president has come under fire this week for condemning via twitter federal prosecutors who proposed a sentence of up to 9 years for former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone. Barr intervened to recommend a shorter sentence, which sparked allegations of the Justice Department coordinating with the president. "I think it’s time to stop tweeting about the Department of Justice criminal cases. I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr told ABC News in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
After Trump praised Barr’s decision to override the Stone sentencing recommendation, four prosecutors assigned to the case immediately withdrew in protest. On Wednesday, Trump praised Barr on Twitter for the attorney general's intervening in the case, "Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called for the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate what pressure Trump and Barr might have exerted behind the scenes. In November, Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year Russia probe. Prosecutors accused Stone of lying about his communications with WikiLeaks during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Trump even targeted the judge who will sentence Stone because it is the same one who gave tough sentences to other of the president's former associates. During the interview Barr dismissed speculation of presidential interference, insisting that Trump had never asked him to do anything in a criminal case. "I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody... whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president," he said. Barr added that he was supportive of Stone’s convictions but thought the sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years was excessive. (UNI)