Attorney General Bill Barr has admonished President Trump to stop commenting on criminal cases – saying it ‘undercuts’ his role as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
‘I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,’ Barr said in an extraordinary interview.
Speaking in blunt language, Barr, who previously held the same position under President George H.W. Bush, said: ‘I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.’
Barr’s pushback comes after the Trump loyalist has agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee as some Democrats renew calls for his impeachment. It also follows powerful Democrats including Rep. Adam Schiff accusing the president of violating the ‘rule of law’ be interfering in a system of justice that is meant to be non-political.
‘I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr told ABC News in an interview.
“I’m going to 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 said
He said ‘of course’ he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing the president. Trump spent months ridiculing former attorney general Jeff Sessions for his failure to recuse himself from the Russia probe.
Barr said his actions in the case of the Roger Stone case had ‘nothing to do with the president,’ as the network put it.
After career prosecutors called for a sentence of seven to nine years in prison for Stone following his conviction, Trump blasted the move online.
“Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Trump wrote.
Attorney General Barr has called out President Trump for his tweets on department matters
President Donald Trump on Thursday said the juror Roger Stone’s jury had ‘significant bias’ in his latest intervention into the criminal trial of his longtime advisor.
Trump jumped on revelations that the foreperson, who represents the jury during communications with the judge during a trial, had run for Congress as a Democrat, Tweeted about Stone’s arrest, and posed with prominent Democrats.
The foreperson, Tomeka Hart, revealed her identity in a Facebook post where she defended the federal prosecutors who handled the case – after Trump publicly attacked them this week.
The president tweeted Thursday, amid an uproar in Congress over his interventions in Stone’s case: ‘Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias. Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the “Justice” Department. @foxandfriends @FoxNews,’ he wrote.
Trump’s blast came after he went after the judge overseeing Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson, in an early morning tweet Tuesday.
‘Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure?’ Trump wrote. ‘How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!’
President Donald Trump jumped on revelations that the foreperson in Roger Stone’s trial had run for Congress as a Democrat and tweeted about Stone’s arrest. Stone has been an informal Trump advisor for decades. He was convicted on seven counts including witness tampering and lying to Congress
He also blasted the sentence of up to nine years recommended by a team of federal prosecutors – an action that preceded the Justice Department’s extraordinary turnaround and filing of a new sentencing memo to the judge that made no recommendation of jail time.
Following the turnaround, four career prosecutors had themselves removed from the case, and one left his position entirely.
Hart wrote that she decided to end her ‘silence’ on the case to ‘stand up’ for the four prosecutors, whose decision to withdraw was taken as an obvious protest.
Amid the uproar and Democrats saying President Trump is acting against the rule of law following his acquittal of impeachment articles in the Senate, Attorney General Bill Barr has agreed to testify next month before the House Judiciary Committee, breaking a year-long absence.
Tomeka Hart revealed on Wednesday that she was foreperson on the Roger Stone jury
Trump’s dig on the Justice Department – putting its name in quotes – came a day after he saluted the agency for reversing itself following his complaints.
‘The fact is that Roger Stone was treated horribly and so were many other people, their lives were destroyed,’ Trump fumed in the Oval Office alongside the president of Ecuador.
‘You have murderers and drug addicts – they don’t get nine years. Nine years for doing something that no one can even define what he did. Somebody said he put out a tweet. And the tweet, you base it on that. We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens. And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children. Nine years in jail it’s a disgrace.’
Stone was convicted on seven counts including witness tampering and lying to Congress.
Earlier, Trump lauded Bill Barr for ‘taking charge’ of Roger Stone’s case.
He denied speaking to the Justice Department, although he added: ‘I’d be able to do it if I wanted. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe.’
‘But I didn’t speak to them. I thought the (original) recommendation was ridiculous, I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous,’ Trump vented.
Trump’s latest move comes after Hart was revealed to be a failed Democrat candidate for Congress and activist vehemently opposed to President Donald Trump.
Tomeka Hart, a former Memphis City Schools Board President, came forward as the Stone jury foreperson in a Facebook post on Wednesday, voicing support for prosecutors in the case.
Hart confirmed to The Daily Memphian that she wrote the Facebook post, but she declined an interview with the newspaper.
Stone supporters were shocked when a review of Hart’s social media posts showed that she posted on Twitter mocking Stone’s dramatic arrest prior to being seated on the jury, and frequently denounced Trump, including calling the president and his supporters racists.
It’s unclear whether Stone’s political views and social media history were disclosed during jury selection, potentially raising questions about fairness that could impact the verdict on appeal.
Hart (left) is seen with former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile
Hart retweeted a post about Stone’s arrest in January 2019, months before the trial
Hart came forward amid controversy over Stone’s sentencing, after the four prosecutors on the case withdrew in response to Trump criticizing the government’s recommendation that Stone be sentenced to nine years in prison.
Trump has said that the prosecution of his former campaign advisor Stone prosecution for obstruction, false statements, and witness tampering was handled in a manner that was ‘ridiculous’ and an ‘insult to our country.’
‘I have kept my silence for months. Initially, it was for my safety. Then, I decided to remain silent out of fear of politicizing the matter,’ Hart said in her Facebook post on Wednesday.
‘But I can’t keep quiet any longer. I want to stand up for Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis – the prosecutors on the Roger Stone trial,’ Hart wrote, referring to the prosecutors who resigned in protest.
‘It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice. For that, I wanted to speak up for them and ask you to join me in thanking them for their service,’ she said.
Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Trump brought up the two-month sentence given to a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators
Trump congratulated Barr for ‘taking charge’ of the Roger Stone case. Stone is a longtime political advisor to Trump who prosecutors wanted to get up to nine years for lying about his contacts with WikiLeaks
Hart unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, and is an activist who has participated in anti-Trump rallies and protests
Hart unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, and is an activist who has participated in anti-Trump rallies and protests.
Immediately, journalists and Trump supporters began scouring Hart’s social media history, finding a trove of anti-Trump sentiment.
Independent journalist Mike Cernovich was the first to report on Hart’s extensive history of anti-Trump social media posts.
In January 2019, Hart also re-tweeted a post by pundit Bakari Sellers mocking Stone’s arrest, and suggesting that racism was the reason conservatives were upset about the use of force in the FBI’s armed pre-dawn raid on his home.
Months later, Hart was impaneled on Stone’s jury. On the day the jury convicted him, she posted emojis of hearts and fist pumps.
Meanwhile, it emerged that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had denied a defense request to strike a potential juror on the case, who was an Obama-era press official with admitted anti-Trump views.
That juror’s husband worked at the same Justice Department division that handled the probe leading to Stone’s prosecution.
Another Stone juror, Seth Cousins, donated to former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and other progressive causes, federal election records reviewed by Fox News show.