U.S. Attorney General William Barr last week told ABC News that it was “time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.” (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING (TUESDAY): "I use social media.
I guess I use it well, because here I am.
I'm here." Since then, the president's tweets and public comments - particularly those about the federal trial of Roger Stone - have only intensified.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (TUESDAY): "I think it was a very, very rough thing that happened to Roger Stone." Trump on Tuesday went further – claiming in tweets that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was "illegally set up," and suggesting that charges from Trump associates stemming from that investigation "should be thrown out." He also quoted a Fox News contributor suggesting that the judge overseeing the Stone case should grant him a new trial.
Now, a source familiar with the situation tells Reuters the A-G is considering resigning.
But the D-O-J was quick to tamp down the rumor.
A spokesperson on Tuesday night tweeted, “the Attorney General has no plans to resign.” (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (TUESDAY): “I do make his job harder, I do agree with that, I think that's true.” Trump on Tuesday stood by Barr.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (TUESDAY): "The attorney general is a man with incredible integrity." Barr has been in the job a year, a tenure defined by staunch loyalty to the president in the face of a Special Counsel investigation and an impeachment inquiry.
But the upcoming sentencing of Trump's convicted long-time friend Roger Stone tested how much Barr was willing to take.
The President attacked D-O-J lawyers over their initial sentencing recommendation, and asserted his right to intervene in criminal cases.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I'm actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country." The president denies getting directly involved in the Stone case.
But his comments have caused a firestorm in
Class="kln">Washington, where the D-O-J has long held a reputation for independence from the White House.
That reputation seems to be something Barr would like to appear remains intact.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING ON TUESDAY:"I think he's doing an excellent job.
He's a strong guy.
I never spoke to him about the Roger Stone situation." Over the weekend, more than 1,000 former Justice Department officials called for Barr to resign in an open letter.
The signatories grew to more than 2,400 by Wednesday morning.
The Washington Post reported that Barr may be sharing his concerns with people close to Trump in hopes the president gets the message and stops tweeting about the Justice Department’s criminal investigations.