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Trump Responds After Barr's Surprise Criticism

President declares the legal right to direct attorney general how to handle cases
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2020 9:00 AM CST
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Attorney General William Barr speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Attorney General William Barr made big headlines Thursday when he slammed President Trump for tweeting so much about the Justice Department. Barr said those tweets—including the president's criticism of the department over the sentencing recommendation for Trump ally Roger Stone—made it "impossible" for him to do his job. On Friday morning, however, Trump made clear he doesn't plan to stop his Justice Department tweets by issuing yet another. Coverage, including skepticism that Barr's comments were all they seemed to be:

  • Trump: He quoted Barr as saying in his ABC interview that the president "has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case." Then Trump added: “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” The president did not criticize Barr in his tweet.
  • More developments: Two big stories out Friday: Barr ordered a "highly unusual" review of the case against Trump ally Michael Flynn, but, on the other hand, he dropped the case against Trump nemesis Andrew McCabe.
  • Rarity: One common reaction to the initial Barr comments comes from Fadel Allassan at Axios, who calls them a "rare public rebuke of the president by the attorney general, who has faced allegations of politicizing the Justice Department." The idea is that Barr was starting to feel the heat in regard to his own reputation and lashed out.

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