Just a day after Attorney General William Barr issued a rare criticism of President Donald Trump, telling ABC News that the president's tweets about Justice Department matters "make it impossible for me to do my job," Trump took to Twitter — to comment on Barr.
Seizing a specific section of Barr's interview with ABC News, in which the attorney general said the president "has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case," Trump nevertheless said he had the legal right to do so.
Tweeting out Barr's quote, Trump wrote, "This doesn't mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!"
The tweet was Trump's first since Barr's interview was published online Thursday.
Barr, referencing Trump's tweeting, told ABC News that, "Public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the department that we're doing our work with integrity."
His comments came days after the department overruled federal prosecutors in Roger Stone's criminal case, a decision thatresulted in all four prosecutors quitting the case. The prosecutors on Monday had recommended that Stone get seven to nine years in prison, a decision Trump lambasted on Twitter as "disgraceful" in the wee hours on Tuesday.
Barr told ABC News that he and his staff had decided to recommend a lower sentence before Trump tweeted because they thought the recommended sentence was too long — but the president's criticism put them in a tough spot.
Following Barr's interview, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that "the president wasn't bothered by the comments at all," but she indicated that Trump would not curb his tweets.
Trump, she added, "has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions."