On Thursday, attorney general William Barr made an uncharacteristic criticism of Donald Trump. In an interview with ABC News, Barr said, "I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases."
Barr was referring to Trump inserting himself into the case against Roger Stone, who was found guilty of witness tampering in Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's potential abuse of power. Trump was furious at federal prosecutors' suggested sentence of seven to nine years, tweeting that it was "horrible and very unfair" and "miscarriage of justice." The DOJ then contradicted the proposed sentence, suggesting it was far too harsh and prompting four of the prosecutors on the case to quit in frustration. Barr has since taken over the case, but speaking to ABC News he said that Trump was making his job "impossible" with his tweets. "I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody," Barr said, adding, "whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president."
Fox News anchor Lou Dobbs, one of the network's biggest Trump supporters, thought that criticism was outrageous. He said he was "disappointed" in Barr, adding, "I have to say this—it’s a damn shame when he doesn’t get what this president has gone through and what the American people have gone through, and what his charge is as attorney general." And what exactly is that charge, as Dobbs sees it? "Where the hell are the charges against the politically corrupt deep state within the Justice Department, the FBI, and why in the hell aren’t we hearing apologies from someone in that rancid corrupt department about what they permitted?!"
This isn't the the first time Dobbs and other Fox News personalities have turned on an insufficiently loyal Trump appointee. Fox News went after former contributor John Bolton, who served as Trump's national security adviser. After news leaked that Bolton's memoir included damning information about Trump trying to blackmail Ukraine, Dobbs called Bolton "a tool for the left," and Laura Ingraham called him "another think tank-type trying to cash in on his time at the White House."
Dobbs's diatribe aside, Barr has consistently defended far-reaching and unfettered executive branch power since his time in the Ronald Reagan White House. When he joined the Department of Justice under the first George Bush, Barr sent an unsolicited 10-page memo to top lawyers throughout the executive branch urging them to fight any effort by Congress to limit the White House's power. "Only by consistently and forcefully resisting such congressional incursions can executive branch prerogatives be preserved," he wrote. In June 2018, he wrote another memo to then-deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, claiming that Trump can't be charged with obstruction of justice based on the Mueller investigation because a president has "complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding." It's something of a contrast with Barr's predecessor, Jeff Sessions, who was an early supporter of Trump but still recused himself from overseeing Mueller's investigation. That earned him Trump's fury for what he perceived as Sessions's lack of willingness to protect him. "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump, who frequently insulted Sessions, wrote in 2018.
On Friday morning, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Trump took no issue with Barr's criticism. In a statement, she wrote, "The President wasn't bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions. President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news. The president has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law."
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Originally Appeared on GQ