KEY POINTS

  • AG William Barr told people close to the President he wanted to resign: reports
  • DOJ spokeswoman called the reports "Beltway rumors"
  • Trump: "I have total confidence in my attorney general"

Attorney General William Barr is considering resigning, days after he made a rare public break with President Donald Trump, saying the latter's tweets were making it difficult for him to do his job, reports said.

Barr wanted Trump to "get the message" to stop weighing in publicly on ongoing criminal cases,  the reports said. He reportedly visited the White House on Tuesday for a scheduled lunch with White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

The development comes on a day Trump stuck to his guns about his right to involve in criminal cases, continued his tweetstorm on a criminal case involving his former aide Roger Stone, and pardoned close to a dozen individuals including a former Illinois governor and three high-profile white-collar criminals.

It is not clear whether Barr, a Trump loyalist who had taken on the Democrat-controlled Congress during the impeachment investigations against the President, was seriously considering leaving his job, or just maneuvering to get the space to make independent decisions amid Trump's very public interference in the Department of Justice's (DoJ) work through his tweets.

The President's tweets, including on the sentencing of Stone, had ignited a wave of criticism on his interference in criminal cases and piled pressure on Barr from within the department and outside. Four prosecutors had withdrawn from the case after the DOJ rejected a sentencing recommendation.

That decision had come after Trump tweeted his displeasure with the sentencing recommendation but Barr said later that he was not influenced by Trump in recommending to lessen Stone's sentence.

The Washington Post and CNN reported quoting sources that Barr told people close to the President he was considering leaving his job, as Trump continued to tweet on DOJ investigations. But the DOJ pushed back on the reports Tuesday night. Spokeswoman Kerri Kupec called them "Beltway rumors in a tweet." She added: "The Attorney General has no plans to resign."

Trump also supported his Attorney General in public comments Tuesday while reiterating his right to tweet on DOJ cases. The president agreed that his tweets make Barr's job "harder" but told reporters that he had no plans to stop tweeting about DOJ cases. Calling Barr a "straight shooter," Trump said, "I have total confidence in my attorney general. I think he's doing an excellent job. He's a strong guy."

The President asserted his right to involve himself in DOJ criminal investigations. "I am allowed to be totally involved" in criminal cases, he said.

Barr told ABC News in an interview last week that he was "not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody ... whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president."

US Attorney General William Barr will testify to the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, 2020, amid allegations that he is bending Justice Department policy to help President Donald Trump US Attorney General William Barr will testify to the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, 2020, amid allegations that he is bending Justice Department policy to help President Donald Trump Photo: AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

Trump has also hammered U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson who is set to oversee Stone's sentencing, drawing the ire of the Federal Judges Association. Judge Jackson, an Obama appointee, refused to delay the sentencing Tuesday.

Separately, asserting his pardon powers, Trump commuted or pardoned nearly a dozen people including former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D); former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.; former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik; and financier Michael Milken.