Attorney General Bill Barr Wants Trump to Stop Tweeting About DOJ Criminal Cases: 'Makes It Impossible for Me to Do my Job'

Attorney General William Barr said that President Donald Trump's tweeting makes it difficult to do his job, in an exclusive interview with ABC's Pierre Thomas airing Thursday.

In a clip shared in advance of the full broadcast of the interview, due to air on Wednesday's edition of World News Tonight, Thomas asked Barr about the influence of Trump on the Department of Justice in the wake of the controversy over former presidential adviser Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation.

"To have public statements and tweets made about the department... about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job, to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we're doing our work with integrity," Barr said.

"The president does not like to be told what to do. He may not like what you're saying. Are you prepared for those ramifications?" Thomas asked.

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"Of course, as I said during my confirmation, I came in to serve as attorney general. I am responsible for everything that happens in the department, but the thing I have most responsibility for are the issues that are brought to me for decision, and I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do," Barr replied.

"And I'm not gonna be bullied or influenced by anybody—whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards or the president. I'm gonna do what I think is right. I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me," he added.

Shortly after the clip was released, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump had "full faith and confidence" in Barr.

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"The President wasn't bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions. President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news. The president has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law," Grisham said.

Bill Barr
Attorney General William Barr said President Donald Trump's tweeting has made it "impossible" to do his job, and that he can't work "with a constant background commentary that undercuts me." Sarah Silbiger/Getty

The Department of Justice has come under fire this week for the handling of the sentencing of Stone. Stone was convicted in November of obstruction of Congress, lying to investigators under oath and witness tampering. On Monday, DOJ prosecutors proposed Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison, however, Trump condemned the proposed sentence Tuesday, calling it "horrible and unfair."

Soon after Trump's tweet, the DOJ submitted a new filing asking for a lower sentence. The department called the original recommendation "excessive and unwarranted." All four prosecutors in the Stone case, Jonathan Kravis, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando, withdrew from the case after the new filing, with Kravis also resigning from the DOJ.

Barr says the decision to recommend a lighter sentence was made Monday evening before Trump's tweet, and repeated that to Thomas in the interview.

"He was emphatic that he never spoke to the president about Stone or anyone else at the White House," Thomas told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in a segment after the clip.

Thomas also said that in the interview, Barr criticized the four attorneys, saying their recommendation was "wrong" and that they were "overzealous."

Update (6:15 p.m.): Updated to include comment from Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.

Attorney General Bill Barr Wants Trump to Stop Tweeting About DOJ Criminal Cases: 'Makes It Impossible for Me to Do my Job' | U.S.