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Barr Told Trump Allies He's Considering Quitting Over Trump's DOJ Tweets

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Barr Told Trump Allies He's Considering Quitting Over Trump's DOJ Tweets

2020-02-19 12:11:391 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: William Barr (Image source: Screenshot)

The tension between Donald Trump and William Barr is continuing. The attorney general has told people close to to the president that he's considering quitting because of Trump's tweets about Justice Department investigations, according to administration officials.

Barr has requested, both publicly and privately, that Trump refrain from posting on Twitter about Justice Department cases, and it seems that Trump is openly defying him. It's unknown whether Trump has directly told Trump that he's considering quitting; however, the administration officials believe Barr is being open about the possibility of leaving, as he's hoping it will ultimately convince the president to stop tweeting. 

"He has his limits," said one person familiar with Barr's intentions.

Last week, in an ABC News interview, Barr warned Trump that his tweets about DOJ cases "make it impossible for me to do my job." White House officials said Trump's not open to changing his behavior and has told those around him that he's not going to stop. He considers calling out what he believes is FBI and DOJ misconduct as a good message for him to share politically. 

The tension between Barr and Trump increased on Tuesday when Trump tweeted he may sue those involved with former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. He suggested that his longtime confidante Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstruction and lying to Congress and who is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, deserves a new trial.

Shortly after, a DOJ official said prosecutors had filed a sealed motion in court that argued Stone should be sentenced as scheduled on Thursday and that Barr had given his approval. 

By the end of the day, however, Barr was still attorney general and did not appear to have left his office, his second time in this role after previously being attorney general during the late president George H.W. Bush's time in office. It's uncertain what is ahead for him this time.

Some people who are familiar with Barr's thinking contend he is not prone to making rash decisions, yet it's not clear what it will take for him to resign.  

This originated last week when federal prosecutors recommended that Stone get seven to nine years in prison. Trump objected to it via tweets, and this was followed by Barr stepping in and changing the sentencing recommendation. He has insisted, though, that he did this on his own and not because of Trump.

The four prosecutors were so upset that they resigned from the case, with one leaving the DOJ altogether. Over 2,000 former DOJ employees signed a letter urging Barr to resign over the situation. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham downplayed the significance of the letter, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended him. 

Those close to Barr say it's unlikely that the letter will move Barr to quit and contend he is very concerned about DOJ morale, and that's partially why he criticized Trump publicly.

For his part, Trump did say on Tuesday that he has "total confidence" in Barr and admitted, "I do make his job harder." However, he also seemed to strip authority from him, stating that as president, he is "the chief law enforcement officer in the country." 

"The attorney general is a man with great integrity," he said. "I chose not to be involved. I'm allowed to be involved. I could be involved if I want to be."

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