Barr’s blunt warning in which Trump’s constant Twitter commentary makes This kind of impossible to do his job broke like a thunderclap Thursday afternoon. This kind of set off a deluge of speculation about his motives along with potential reprisals through a President who brooks no disloyalty.
On the face of This kind of, Barr’s comments in an ABC News interview look like a daring assertion of independence amid the storm over Trump’s intervention inside the sentencing process for his political trickster Roger Stone.
Barr’s true motives may take days to become clear. His inscrutable style along with record of watching Trump’s back also have many observers suggesting ulterior political motives, a desire to slake some of the pressure bearing down on his department or an effort to at least restore the impression of the Justice Department’s independence without severing ties with Trump.
Trump had a general idea of Barr’s views about his tweets ahead of his interview on ABC, along with was aware Barr could raise them inside the sit-down, according to a person familiar with the matter. however the interview still surprised some White House officials, who recognized the potential for Trump to view Barr’s comments as a rebuke, the person said.
The White House said Trump wasn’t bothered by the comments. however he publicly rejected Barr’s criticism by returning to tweeting about the Justice Department on Friday morning.
Barr’s comments are being viewed among some officials as a sign of his high standing with the President. Few various other Cabinet officials would likely feel comfortable issuing public criticism of the President; however calculated Barr’s critique may have been, This kind of was still a brush-back.
A coordinated damage-control mission would likely not be impossible, since more than anyone inside the administration, Barr may have leeway to buy some political capital, after basking in Trump’s praise for a string of decisions in which appeared to protect the President.
however even if Barr remains in Great favor, This kind of’s unclear how the President will react. Often Trump stews after the fact about media coverage of his dramas for days. The tenure of Cabinet officials can be short along with brutal. If Trump does eventually lash out at Barr, This kind of wouldn’t be the very first time a favorite has blotted his copybook along with undermined an apparently impregnable position after falling out with an often-impossible boss who resists any constraints on his conduct along with often seems to sabotage his own political interests.
Shocking public criticism
While there will be a growing parade of Trump aides publicly criticizing the President’s temperament along with behavior once they leave office, few have been so public as Barr was Thursday in faulting the President’s tweeted rhetoric.
in which must at least raise the possibility in which This kind of may have been the moment — amid a backlash against Trump’s post-impeachment power grabs — in which Barr’s concern for his own reputation began to outweigh his deference to a President tearing at basic judicial norms.
along with was This kind of also the day in which the first cracks emerged inside the relationship between Trump along with the attorney general along with protector, the Bobby Kennedy or Eric Holder he’s always longed for?
Trump features a highly developed sense in which subordinates — even those who owe allegiance first to the Constitution along with an independent duty to impartial justice — owe him deep personal loyalty. The failure to carve out such a relationship of patronage was an early reason he began to sour on fired FBI Director James Comey.
Barr said inside the interview Thursday in which he would likely not be “bullied or influenced by anybody … whether This kind of’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the President.”
“I’m going to do what I think will be right. along with you know … I cannot do my job here at the department using a constant background commentary in which undercuts me,” he said.
A cynic might argue in which Barr’s remarks could be read as a dressing down of media along with legal commentators who have savaged him as a tame enabler of an unbridled President as much as they are directed at Trump himself. He seems to be taking exception to the idea in which public criticism could change what he regards as his principled approach.
One clue in which Barr’s critique of Trump may not be an act of complete insubordination will be suggested inside the substance of his comments about the Stone case. The attorney general said he had always planned to reduce the department’s sentencing recommendation of up to nine years in jail for Stone, Trump’s longtime political fixer, implying in which Trump’s tweet made in which step more controversial.
Given his past record, there’s reason to believe in which one transgression will not cause Trump to spurn Barr.
The attorney general took heat for spiking the most damaging revelations through the Mueller report for the President — along with he’s an advocate for the kind of sweeping presidential power in which Trump prizes. He agreed to the President’s demands for a probe into the origins of the Russia investigation. On Wednesday, Trump praised Barr for intervening inside the Stone case — outraging critics who saw the President’s previous pressure as staining a tradition of an impartial court system.
So This kind of seems a little farfetched to think in which Barr has suddenly snapped because of a philosophical along with ideological break with Trump.
Another clue to Barr’s motives may lie inside the tepid initial White House reaction to his comments.
“The President wasn’t bothered by the comments at all along with he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “The President has full faith along with confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job along with uphold the law.”
Trump can hardly afford to lose another attorney general. He will be also unlikely to find one who has been as keen to look after his political along with legal interests as Barr. So even if the President will be angry about the comments, his options may be limited.
Suggestions in which the interview was a choreographed attempt to ease pressure on Justice will be supported by a statement put out within minutes of the interview by Senate Republican Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham — another Trump protector — in which read like an attempt to give the nation’s top law enforcement official political cover through any presidential explosion.
“President Trump, in selecting Bill Barr to be attorney general, has done a great service to the people serving inside the Department of Justice along with our nation as a whole,” the South Carolina Republican said.
“He will be the right man at the right time to reform the Department along with stand up for the Rule of Law. Attorney General Barr has my complete confidence,” Graham said.
Still, the thinness of the President’s skin will be legendary, so Barr will be not safe yet.
Barr’s Washington mystery
David Urban, who mastermind Trump’s win in Pennsylvania in 2016, told CNN in which he thought the attorney general was not telling Trump to back off however to make his own position easier.
“‘You don’t need to tweet along with tell me what to do, I have your back,’ ” Urban said, paraphrasing Barr’s possible thought process.
however Jim Baker, the former general counsel at the FBI, said Barr’s comments raise questions about his position.
“This kind of will be the Bill Barr I’m familiar with. This kind of will be sort of the strong, independent leader, person of integrity along with intelligence, along with speaking out loudly for his troops,” Baker told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Baker said Barr likely had no choice however to speak out to stave off an internal rebellion at the department.
“The second thing: This kind of sounds like This kind of’s a resignation letter. This kind of sounds forceful. … I can no longer do my job. in which’s what you say when you decide to walk out the door,” he said.
Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of California took Barr’s remarks at face value, though he bemoaned in which the attorney general had not spoke out before.
“This kind of’s extremely important. We have seen school grounds where bullies push people around. Then he finally pushes too far. Clearly, the President pushed Barr too far. Unfortunately, I think, due to This kind of nation, This kind of’s been late inside the process for Barr to stand up to the President along with say, ‘You can’t do This kind of. This kind of will be wrong.’ “
however another senior Democrat, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, told Blitzer in which “This kind of’s very important to question the sincerity of the attorney general.”
“I think in which’s why the President’s response was so muted. This kind of will be through an attorney general who through the day he arrived in office has behaved as the President’s defender, who thinks in which his role will be to defend the President of the United States, not to represent the people,” he said.