KEY POINTS

  • Trump ignited a firestorm this week in complaining about a proposed seven to nine-year sentence for his former confidant and adviser
  • Barr denied Trump ever has asked him to take a particular action in any criminal case
  • Barr says Trump's tweets are making it impossible for him to do his job

Attorney General William Barr said Thursday President Trump’s tweets make it “impossible” to do his job and urged Trump to stop tweeting about the Justice Department.

In an interview with ABC News, Barr said Trump never has asked him to take particular action in a criminal case, but “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about the Department of Justice criminal cases.”

Trump stirred up a firestorm this week in criticizing a recommended seven to nine-year sentence recommendation for Roger Stone, his longtime adviser and confidant, who was convicted in November of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

A day after the recommendation was submitted to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the Justice Department withdrew it, prompting the four prosecutors involved in the case to withdraw, one of them quitting the government altogether, and questions about whether Barr was bowing to Trump’s wishes. Barr denied the action was taken at Trump’s behest, saying the decision was made before Trump’s tweets and expressed surprised at the prosecutors’ withdrawals.

Trump also took after Jackson this week, questioning the sentence she imposed on former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.

Barr said he would not let the president – or anyone else -- bully him and that the tweets make it “impossible for me to do my job.”

“I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr said.

The Justice Department is seen as a semi-autonomous agency, but Trump often has said he expects Justice officials to show loyalty to him. He pushed out his first attorney general, Jeff Session, not forgiving him for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr, who previously served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, said Trump’s tweets put him in a bad position, calling them “disruptive.”

“I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets. As I said at my confirmation hearing, I think the essential role of the attorney general is to keep law enforcement, the criminal process sacrosanct to make sure there is no political interference in it. And I have done that and I will continue to do that,” Barr said.