McConnell Sides With Barr Over Trump's Tweets, Says President 'Ought to Listen to the Attorney General'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday agreed with Attorney General William Barr's criticisms about Donald Trump's tweeting habits and urged the president to follow the top Department of Justice official's advice.

In a recent interview with ABC's Pierre Thomas, Barr said that Trump's tweeting about DOJ criminal cases "makes 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." The attorney general issued the remarks after having faced days of significant backlash from Democrats and Trump critics this week over the DOJ's handling of Roger Stone's criminal case.

McConnell backed Barr's assessment and encouraged Trump to follow his advice in an interview with Fox News host Bret Baier on Thursday. "If the Attorney General says it is getting in the way of him doing his job, maybe the president should listen to the Attorney General," the Republican senator said, before declining to comment on whether the president's tweets about Stone's case were "inappropriate."

"The attorney general has said it's making it difficult for him to do his job. I think the president ought to listen to the attorney general," he added. "The president made a wise selection in picking Bill Barr. I think he ought to listen to him."

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a news conference after the Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump on the two articles of impeachment brought by the House of Representatives to the Senate for trial on Capitol Hill on February 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty

The controversy surrounding Stone's case began Monday night, when DOJ prosecutors submitted a sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years for the longtime Trump associate. Trump railed against the decision on Tuesday morning, calling it "very horrible and unfair." Hours later, the DOJ publicly announced their intention to back away from the lengthy recommendation, opting instead to seek a lower sentence.

It is rare for the DOJ to overturn sentencing recommendations made by their own prosecutors. As Trump critics quickly moved to accuse Trump and Barr of political interference in a criminal case, both the president and attorney general independently denied the allegation and asserted that the president did not ask the department to water down Stone's sentencing recommendation. The move, however, did prompt all four career prosecutors—Jonathan Kravis, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando—to withdraw from Stone's proceedings, with one resigning from the department.

When asked whether Trump was politicizing the DOJ, McConnell sidestepped the question and pivoted to, again, encouraging the president to follow Barr's advice regarding his tweeting habits.

"I hate to keep saying the same thing," he said. "I think the attorney general knows what he is talking about ... I think he's told the president this is not helpful, making it difficult for him to do his job, I think the president ought to listen to him."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.