U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday claimed his “legal right” to interfere in cases handled by the Justice Department amid growing tension with the country’s attorney general, William Barr.
The president made mention in a tweet of an interview broadcast yesterday by Barr with the ABC television network, in which the Justice secretary said that the president had never asked him to do anything in a criminal case.
“This does not mean that I do not have, as president, the legal right to do it, I have it, but I have chosen not to do it until now,” Trump warned on the social network.
In the interview with ABC, Barr, a faithful ally of Trump so far, said the president’s criticism was making it “impossible” for him to do his job and warned that he would not be “intimidated or influenced by anyone,” after the president complained about the request for the conviction of Roger Stone, a close ex-collaborator of his who was convicted of seven charges for his involvement in the so-called Russian plot.
Precisely this Friday, the Justice Department revealed that it did not charge former FBI director Andrew McCabe, considered one of Trump’s enemies, for lying to investigators about a journalistic leak, in what the U.S. media has taken as an attempt by this portfolio to show its independence.
When he was acting director of the FBI, McCabe authorized the agency to investigate Trump in 2017, making him a frequent target of the president’s anger on Twitter.
Barr also ordered outside prosecutors Friday to review the handling by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington of the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and other cases, The New York Times said.
Such reviews are unusual and could lead to more allegations of political interference by high-ranking Justice Department officials in the work of career prosecutors.
Flynn was one of the first people to plead guilty during special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into the so-called Russian plot, which involved inquiries into Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US, although he has since tried to retract that statement and allege misconduct by prosecutors.
Earlier this week, the four prosecutors handling the court case against U.S. strategist Roger Stone tendered their resignations after Trump criticized the sentence they had requested for their former advisor and the Justice Department recommended a reduction in the sentence.