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Politics Trump-Barr divide worsens as the president bucks a request to stop tweeting, and the Justice Dept. declines to charge his political foe

04:26  15 february  2020
04:26  15 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

GOP senator on Trump's Roger Stone tweets: 'Tweeting less would not cause brain damage'

  GOP senator on Trump's Roger Stone tweets: 'Tweeting less would not cause brain damage' Sen. John Kennedy suggested President Trump should stop tweeting about the Department of Justice and, therefore, placing Attorney General William Barr in difficult situations. © Provided by Washington ExaminerThe Louisiana Republican appeared on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday to defend the president against allegations that he is attempting to subvert justice in the case of GOP operative Roger Stone. Kennedy said that the president’s tweets earlier this week on the DOJ’s case against Stone placed Barr in an "awkward spot" but were not illegal.

In his tweet , Trump quoted Barr from a television interview Thursday in which he asserted that the president had never asked him to do anything related to a criminal case. “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!”

Mr. Barr has been among the president ’s most loyal allies and denigrated by Democrats as nothing more than his personal lawyer but publicly challenged Mr. Trump in a way that no other sitting cabinet member has. He added, “It’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”

The Justice Department on Friday revealed it would not charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, a longtime target of President Trump’s wrath, exacerbating the angry divide between Trump, his attorney general and federal law enforcement officials.

The development came just a day after Attorney General William P. Barr made a televised entreaty to Trump to stop tweeting about criminal cases — and just hours after Trump defied that request.

'Complicated things': Trump impeachment lawyer scolds him for tweeting about Roger Stone case

  'Complicated things': Trump impeachment lawyer scolds him for tweeting about Roger Stone case A Trump impeachment defense lawyer chided the president for tweeting his congratulations to Attorney General William Barr for "taking charge" of the case against his longtime associate Roger Stone. © Provided by Washington ExaminerAttorney Robert Ray, who served on the White House defense team during President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, joined radio show The Cats Roundtable on Sunday and weighed in on Trump's tweet, saying it "complicated things.

Trump , in his tweet , also left open the possibility that he would ask Barr for something in a criminal matter in the future. While technically as the president , Trump has the right to compel the Justice Department to investigate as an executive branch agency. But historically, the Justice Department

In his tweet , Trump quoted Barr from a television interview Thursday in which he asserted that the president had never asked him to do anything His tweet followed a remarkable interview with ABC News, in which Barr said, "I think it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal

While three White House officials said Barr, one of Trump’s most loyal and effective Cabinet secretaries, was in no immediate danger of being fired, the attorney general’s relationship with the president is facing its gravest threat yet. Inside and outside the Justice Department, officials watched warily — some questioning whether Barr was truly at odds with Trump, others heartened by what seemed to be Barr defending the institution’s historical independence and all wondering what comes next.

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McConnell: Trump 'ought to listen to' Barr's advice on DOJ tweets

  McConnell: Trump 'ought to listen to' Barr's advice on DOJ tweets Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said President Trump should follow Attorney General William Barr's advice after the top Justice Department official said the president's tweeting was making it "impossible" to do his job. Asked during an interview with Fox News's Bret Baier about Barr's comments, McConnell said that "the president should listen to his advice.

President Trump called the Justice Department’s handling of the Roger Stone case “a disgrace.”Credit Doug The assertion by the president , rejecting a request by Mr. Barr to stop tweeting about the department’s cases, adds to the mounting controversy over the decision by senior

In his tweet , Trump quoted Barr from a television interview Thursday in which he asserted that the president had never asked him to do anything related to a criminal case. “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 eventful day began — as many in Washington do now — with a defiant Trump reacting on Twitter to something he saw on television. The president quoted from Barr’s interview Thursday with ABC News, during which the attorney general asserted that Trump had never asked him to do anything related to a criminal case.

“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 added in his own voice.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.

Hours later, the department made a move that might be seen as exerting its independence, revealing that it would not charge McCabe with lying to investigators about a media disclosure years ago.

Officials familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Trump’s interactions, said the president was not told about the McCabe decision in advance and was upset. White House lawyers, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, moved to calm the president, these people said. One official said Trump “believes very strongly that action should be taken.”

Trump Claims ‘Legal Right’ to Interfere in Justice Dept. Cases

  Trump Claims ‘Legal Right’ to Interfere in Justice Dept. Cases President Trump asserted that he had the legal right to intervene in federal criminal cases, a day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly rebuked him.In a morning tweet, Mr. Trump quoted Mr. Barr saying that the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” The president said he had “so far chosen” not to interfere in a criminal case even though he insisted that he is not legally bound to do so.

Political operative and Trump ally Roger Stone was convicted in November on seven felony counts On Twitter on Wednesday, the president congratulated Barr for “taking charge ” of the Stone case The politicization of the Justice Department appears complete. Trump tweets , and the DOJ jumps.

US President Donald Trump has tweeted he has "the legal right" to intervene in criminal cases after his America's top law officer William Barr on Thursday asked Mr Trump to stop his tweets , saying he would The Justice Department then overruled the recommendation by its own prosecution team

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club in South Florida, did not address Barr’s TV interview or the McCabe case in a speech before departing the White House. He and Barr spoke Friday afternoon, but the substance of their discussion was not immediately clear, a person familiar with the matter said. White House aides are counseling Trump not to discuss McCabe at all, according to those familiar with the matter.

Trump continues to defy Barr's warnings to stop tweeting about Justice Department

  Trump continues to defy Barr's warnings to stop tweeting about Justice Department President Trump on Wednesday continued to defy Attorney General William Barr's pleas to stop tweeting about the Justice Department and criminal cases."There must be JUSTICE. This can never happen to a President, or our Country, again!," the president said as he quote retweeted a post from GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin who claimed that there are "high expectations that the Justice Dept will very soon deliver transparency & ACCOUNTABILITY regarding DOJ/FBI officials who weaponized the awesome powers at their disposal in order to target the Trump campaign.

President Trump is testing the rule of law one week after his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, seeking to bend the executive branch into an instrument The president has openly encouraged his Justice Department to retaliate against a quartet of former FBI officials who long have been targets of

President Trump denied that his tweet praising the attorney general for intervening in the sentencing of Roger J. Stone Jr. was political interference. But three of the four prosecutors threatened to quit the case, so Mr. Shea acquiesced until Mr. Barr and the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen

Democratic lawmakers and legal analysts, meanwhile, remained wary of what Barr was up to, and another development Friday indicated he was far from a complete break with the president.

According to people familiar with the matter, Barr has tasked outside prosecutors — in the deputy attorney general’s office and from the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis — to review the handling of the criminal case against former Trump national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and other sensitive national security and public corruption prosecutions in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. Among the other cases are the investigation into Blackwater founder Erik Prince for potentially lying to Congress, along with other matters that have not yet been made public, a person familiar with the matter said.

Trump maintains he can intervene in cases after Barr urges him to stop tweeting about DOJ

  Trump maintains he can intervene in cases after Barr urges him to stop tweeting about DOJ President Trump asserted he has "the legal right" to insert himself into the DOJ's handling of criminal cases one day after Attorney General William Barr's interview.President Trump on Friday asserted he has "the legal right" to insert himself into the Justice Department's handling of criminal cases one day after Attorney General William Barr said the president's tweets were making his job more difficult.

The Justice Department declined to comment. The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of Mr. Barr on Thursday gave an interview in which he publicly called on Mr. Trump to stop commenting on the Justice Department, saying it was making it

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday ignored his attorney general's public request to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, saying While technically as the president , Trump has the right to compel the Justice Department to investigate as an executive branch agency.

The prosecutors began their work in recent weeks, coinciding with the transition of office leadership from former U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu to interim U.S. attorney Timothy J. Shea, a former Barr counselor. One Justice Department official said a prosecutor with the St. Louis U.S. attorney’s office is working with Flynn prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, characterizing his work as “assisting” Van Grack in a review of the case.

That has fueled concerns among career prosecutors and others that the department’s political leadership is making a push to exert more control at a key point in sensitive, high-profile cases. Flynn was one of the early people to plead guilty in connection with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe, admitting he lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, though he has since tried to withdraw his plea and allege misconduct on behalf of prosecutors.

The review was first reported by the New York Times.

Trump has consistently sought to undermine Mueller’s probe and those involved in it — either by asking for investigations of the investigators or, in more extreme cases, that criminal charges be filed against them. That has been particularly true for McCabe and his former boss, James B. Comey.

'Greatest abuse of power I have ever seen': Biden says Barr should resign over Stone case

  'Greatest abuse of power I have ever seen': Biden says Barr should resign over Stone case Former Vice President Joe Biden demanded Attorney General William Barr resign for intervening in the criminal case of GOP operative Roger Stone. © Provided by Washington ExaminerBiden appeared on MSNBC on Monday to talk about the Democratic presidential primary and reacted to recent updates in Stone’s case. Biden said he agrees with the more than 1,100 former Justice Department officials in calling for Barr’s resignation in a letter that accuses the attorney general of doing President Trump’s "personal bidding" in intervening in the case.

Barr pushes back against Trump ’s criticism of Justice Dept ., says tweets ‘make it impossible for me to do my job’. Barr ’s public explanation of Stone’s sentencing raised more questions, given the timing Trump ultimately must nominate, and the Senate must confirm, a candidate to fill the U.S. attorney job.

Barr calls on Trump to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases. In an interview with ABC News, Barr said that the president 's early-morning tweet regarding the sentencing The announcement came after Trump expressed his displeasure with the nine-year sentencing guidelines

“Of all of them, it’s Comey and McCabe that seem to really rile him up,” one person close to Trump and Barr said of the president.

Behind the scenes, Trump has raged over the lack of legal action against the pair, including last August — when officials announced Comey would not face charges for his handling of memos he wrote while FBI director — and in January, when The Washington Post reported that a re-examination of corruption allegations related to Hillary Clinton had come up empty, according to people familiar with the discussions.

As a top law enforcement official, McCabe authorized the FBI to begin investigating Trump personally for possible obstruction of justice in connection with the probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

McCabe became the focus of a grand jury probe over allegations from the Justice Department inspector general that he lied to investigators exploring a media disclosure. Department officials authorized prosecutors to seek an indictment of him last year, and in September a grand jury that had been hearing evidence was summoned back to consider the case after a months-long hiatus.

But the day came and went with no public charges being filed. McCabe’s legal team sought to press the Justice Department for a status update but was told nothing. A spokeswoman for D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, which led the investigation, declined to comment.

McCabe, a CNN contributor, said on the network Friday that the investigation was a “horrific black cloud that’s been hanging over me and my family for almost the last two years,” and that the formal end of it was a “relief” he could not put into words.

Trump Takes Up Call for Barr to ‘Clean House’ at Justice Dept.

  Trump Takes Up Call for Barr to ‘Clean House’ at Justice Dept. WASHINGTON — Ignoring appeals from his attorney general to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, President Trump renewed his attacks on the agency on Wednesday, demanding “JUSTICE” for himself and all future presidents. With a series of retweets, Mr. Trump appeared to embrace the suggestion that Attorney General William P. Barr “clean shop” at the department. And the president promoted the idea of naming a special counsel to investigate what Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch, described as a “seditious conspiracy” at the department and the F.B.I.

The decision to decline charges appears to be a move to distance the Justice Department from President Trump , who has long attacked Mr. McCabe. Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy director of the F.B.I., has been a frequent target of President Trump .Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times.

“It’s just a very emotional moment for my whole family,” he said.

Trump’s attacks made a prosecution of McCabe especially complicated. According to materials made public Friday in a Freedom of Information Act case related to the investigation, a federal judge in D.C. warned prosecutors in the case that the public was watching and that comments from the White House were detrimental.

“I just think it’s a banana republic when we go down that road and we have those type of statements being made that are conceivably, even if not, influencing the ultimate decision,” Judge Reggie B. Walton said. “I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue,inappropriate pressure being brought to bear.”

He added later, “I think as a government and as a society we’re going to pay a price at some point for this.”

Barr, too, had for weeks been concerned with Trump’s tweets about criminal cases, and on Thursday he decided to make his feelings known publicly.

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” he told ABC News, adding that such statements “about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

Justice Department staff informed the White House about Barr’s ABC interview after it was recorded, but before it aired, a person familiar with the matter said. They did not provide specifics, the person said. In recent weeks, Barr had told Trump privately more than once that the president’s tweets and public statements were creating difficulties for the Justice Department, but when those private talks seemed not to have the desired effect, the attorney general decided to raise the issue publicly, according to people familiar with the matter.

Barr also said in the interview Thursday that Trump would be within his rights to ask for a criminal investigation in an area that didn’t affect his personal interest — such as in a terrorism case or fraud by a bank. But he said an attorney general would not listen to an order to investigate a political opponent.

“If he were to say go investigate somebody, and you sense it’s because they’re a political opponent, then an attorney general shouldn’t carry that out, wouldn’t carry that out,” Barr said.

The public rebuke of the president by a sitting member of his Cabinet arose from a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, which had been accused this week of buckling to an angry tweet the president issued after he learned of prosecutors’ initial prison recommendation for his longtime friend Roger Stone.

A federal jury convicted Stone in November on charges of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his efforts to gather damaging information about Clinton, Trump’s 2016 presidential election opponent.

On Tuesday, Trump criticized as unduly harsh the initial sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years made by front-line prosecutors. Shortly thereafter, the Justice Department signaled that it would seek a more lenient sentence for Stone, a move that prompted the four career prosecutors to withdraw from the case — and one to resign from the government.

Barr has said the decision was made before Trump’s tweet on the matter. His assertions, though, have not fully placated legal analysts and Democrats on Capitol Hill concerned that he is not adequately protecting the Justice Department’s independence. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) asserted Friday on Twitter that Barr had admitted intervening in a case “to cover up for the President.”

“He’s only upset that Trump’s tweets made the political nature of his intervention obvious,” Schiff wrote. “Barr fools no one. He’s a witting accomplice to Trump’s attack on the rule of law.”

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced next Thursday, though on Friday his defense attorneys demanded a new trial. The request came one day after Trump said on Twitter that the forewoman of the jury that convicted him was “seriously biased.”

matt.zapotosky@washpost.com

josh.dawsey@washpost.com

devlin.barrett@washpost.com

spencer.hsu@washpost.com

John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

Trump Takes Up Call for Barr to ‘Clean House’ at Justice Dept. .
WASHINGTON — Ignoring appeals from his attorney general to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, President Trump renewed his attacks on the agency on Wednesday, demanding “JUSTICE” for himself and all future presidents. With a series of retweets, Mr. Trump appeared to embrace the suggestion that Attorney General William P. Barr “clean shop” at the department. And the president promoted the idea of naming a special counsel to investigate what Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch, described as a “seditious conspiracy” at the department and the F.B.I.

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