Your move, Mr. Attorney General.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday retweeted claims that he is “the victim” of a Justice Department conspiracy, hours after reports that the department’s chief official has threatened to quit if the president continues such criticism.
A tweet Trump promoted to his nearly 73 million followers also said that Attorney General William “Barr should clean house” at the Justice Department — and argued that Trump “can also appoint a special counsel directly” to investigate the purported conspiracy against him.
That tweet was first posted by Tom Fitton, president of the right-wing advocacy group Judicial Watch, and included a link to a more than eight-minute-long appearance by Fitton on Fox News.
Trump soon afterward retweeted another post by Fitton, who said Judicial Watch is “doing the heavy lifting exposing the worst corruption scandal in American history.”
That post referenced so-called astonishing emails that show former Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein “had many Obama/Clinton and media friends” supporting him when he “infamously appointed” former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel.
Trump’s retweets Wednesday morning came after reports on Tuesday night that Barr — who is the head of the Justice Department — has told people close to the president that he might resign if Trump does not stop making public comments about cases lodged by federal prosecutors who report to the attorney general.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said later Tuesday that Barr has no plans to resign.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Wednesday that Trump “has a right to make his opinion known.”
Trump has raged since early in his presidency about the investigation by the Justice Department and FBI into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Trump won, and contacts by Trump campaign officials and others affiliated with the president with Russians during and before the campaign. Mueller took over that probe as special counsel in 2017.
Trump is said to be furious that the Justice Department last week decided not to pursue criminal charges against Andrew McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, who had been under investigation for allegedly misleading investigators about leaks to journalists related to a probe of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump has repeatedly blamed McCabe, along with former FBI Director James Comey, for what the president has called a baseless investigation into Russian election meddling.
On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.”
“But I’ve chosen not to be involved,” the president added.
Barr last week, in an ABC News interview, said that Trump’s tweets about federal criminal cases, including ones targeting people connected to the president, are making it “impossible for me to do my job.”
The attorney general has faced withering criticism from former Justice Department officials, congressional Democrats and others in the past week after reversing a recommendation by trial prosecutors that Trump’s longtime friend, Republican operative Roger Stone, receive a prison term of between seven and nine years when he is sentenced Thursday for crimes related to lying to Congress and witness tampering.
Nearly 2,500 former Justice officials have signed a petition calling on Barr to resign because of the attorney general’s “actions in doing the President’s personal bidding.”
Barr has claimed that he decided to recommend a far less severe prison term after being blindsided by the first suggestion by prosecutors, but before Trump blasted that initial recommendation on Twitter hours after it was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Barr’s critics have been highly skeptical of his claim that he did not respond to Trump’s pressure.
On Tuesday, Trump joined calls for Stone to be granted a new trial, retweeting comments by a Fox News legal analyst who said that “almost any judge in the Country would order a new trial,” but “I’m not so sure about” Stone’s trial judge, Amy Berman Jackson.
Stone’s lawyers last week filed a motion seeking a new trial on the heels of disclosures that the jury forewoman had posted articles and comments critical of Trump on social media. A court filing Tuesday indicates that Stone’s lawyers in that sealed motion are “alleging juror misconduct.”