President Donald Trump on Friday morning expressed his ardent belief that he has the “legal right” to interfere with any criminal case happening at the Department of Justice.
Typically, presidents in the past have had a more “hands-off” approach to the DOJ’s work, striving to ensure that their actions or words wouldn’t be perceived in meddling with ongoing criminal cases for their own political benefit.
Trump has taken the opposite approach, and on Friday expressed in a tweet that he doesn’t see anything wrong with inserting himself into the Justice Department’s work.
The president asserted that Attorney General William Barr has never requested him to interfere in the DOJ’s work. “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!” Trump claimed.
“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020
The president’s words come after another series of controversial tweets from earlier in the week, in which Trump demeaned sentencing guidelines for a former political aide to him, Roger Stone.
Four prosecutors resigned from working on Stone’s case after Trump made a public complaint over their recommended prison sentence of 7 to 9 years, NPR reported. Their resignations came in response to the DOJ announcing it would be reviewing the matter, just hours after Trump’s complaints occurred.
Barr has tried to assert his independence from Trump in the days since his tweet about Stone’s sentencing guidelines. In a recent television interview, Barr knocked Trump’s tweets, saying they were making it “impossible for me to do my job,” per reporting from CNBC.
Barr also suggested that he worked independently of Trump, and that he wouldn’t be “bullied” by the president nor by anyone else.
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr opined.