In Brief

Attorney general says Trump tweets make job ‘impossible’

William Barr’s comments come after a backlash over the reduced sentence for Roger Stone

The US attorney general has said that President Donald Trump “undercuts” him when he tweets about cases, making it “impossible for me to do my job”.

William Barr’s comments are a “rare sign of annoyance with Mr Trump,” says the BBC, and come “amid intense scrutiny” of the Justice Department over the handling of a case involving Roger Stone - a convicted former advisor to the president.

This week, the Justice Department announced it planned to reduce the length of the prison sentence it would seek for Stone, a long-time friend of Trump who was convicted of obstructing an investigation by the House Intelligence Committee into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

After the four prosecutors leading the case against Stone recommended a nine-year sentence, Donald Trump tweeted: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Within hours, a senior official in the US Justice Department undid the earlier sentencing recommendation, saying in a five-page memo that “the prior filing... does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter”.

In the face of the controversy over this, Barr spoke out. “I think it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” he told ABC News.

“I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” he added.

The attorney general acknowledged his comments could leave him open to backlash from the president but Barr has had support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “If the attorney general says it's getting in the way of doing his job, the president should listen to the attorney general,” the Republican senator told Fox News.

However, Barr has also faced scepticism.

Matthew Miller, who served in the justice department under Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter: “Don’t be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically harder for him to deliver the results he wants. If Trump would just shut up, Barr could take care of him much more effectively.”

US congresswoman Val Demings added: “Attorney General Barr’s past performance was to mislead the American people (about the Mueller Report) in order to cover up wrongdoing by the president. Why shouldn’t we believe that’s exactly what he’s doing now?”

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