President Donald Trump vouched for Attorney General William Barr as top Republicans came to his defense after nine senators from the Democrat caucus demanded his resignation.
Trump said, “I have total confidence in my attorney general.”
“He’s a man with great integrity. The attorney general is a man with incredible integrity,” Trump said.
Trump took media questions Tuesday at Andrews Air Force before he was set to leave for Los Angeles. The questions on Barr come just days after an ABC News interview in which the attorney general said Trump’s tweets–among other “constant background commentary” from others–make it “impossible” for him to do his job.
“I do make his job harder. I do agree with that. I think that’s true,” Trump told reporters Tuesday, somewhat uncharacteristically acknowledging a criticism from one of his top Cabinet officials.
In the ABC News interview, Barr said: “The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”
“However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, 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 in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity,” Barr said.
Trump said he doesn’t plan to stop social media.
“I probably wouldn’t have gotten here without social media because I certainly don’t get fair press.”
“He’s a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general and he’s working very hard,” Trump said. “He’s working against a lot of people that don’t want to see good things happen, in my opinion.”
Barr’s criticism came after the Justice Department suggested a lighter sentence for Roger Stone, a supporter of Trump during the 2016 election, though he didn’t work on the campaign. Trump had tweeted about the matter.
Stone was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation, making false statements to Congress, and witness tampering. Prosecutors in the case initially suggested seven to nine years–far more than the federal sentencing guidelines.
“I never spoke to him [Barr] about the Roger Stone situation,” Trump said. “Roger Stone, just so you know, didn’t work for my campaign. It was a very, very rough thing that happened to Roger Stone.”
Meanwhile, eight Democrat senators and one independent last week have called for Barr’s resignation. The Democrat sanators are Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Pat Murray of Washington state, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. They are joined by Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a joint statement backing Barr on Tuesday.
“Attorney General William Barr is a man of the highest character and unquestionable integrity,” the Republicans said in a statement. “The Senate has attested to this fact by confirming him four times to positions of the utmost public trust. In each case, his commitment to the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people has proven this trust to be well-placed.”
Trump said he did not get involved, but that he could have.
“Just so you understand, I chose not to be involved. I’m allowed to be totally involved,” Trump said. “I’m actually the chief law enforcement officer of the country, but I’ve chosen not to be involved. But he is a man of great integrity.”
Despite the Barr criticism over Trump’s tweets, Trump said he wouldn’t be president without social media.
“Everybody has the right to speak their mind. I use social media,” Trump said. “I guess I use it well because here I am. I’m here and I probably wouldn’t have gotten here without social media because I certainly don’t get fair press. I wouldn’t have gotten here without social media and perhaps you had all the hoaxes. You had the impeachment hoax. You had the Mueller hoax. You had Russia, Russia, Russia. All are scams. If I didn’t have social media, I probably wouldn’t be here.”