2020-02-20 09:10:141 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Public domain)
Some people warned that if Donald Trump was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial, that it would embolden him and make him feel as if he could do anything he wanted. That prediction appears to be coming true. He has been warned by Attorney General William Barr to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, and he just isn't stopping.
Trump tweeted last week about the sentencing recommendation of Roger Stone. He felt the prosecutors' suggestion of seven to nine years in prison was unfair. Shortly after, Barr shortened the recommendation, upsetting the prosecutors enough to make them resign from the case. One even left the DOJ altogether.
Barr started getting heat at that point from many who believe he's doing the president's bidding for him. He said he hadn't consulted with the White House and also asked Trump to not tweet about the DOJ and its cases anymore, noting that Trump makes it hard for him to do his job. Despite this, 2,000 former DOJ employees asked for him to step down.
But Trump still isn't stopping. A week later, he's still tweeting and retweeting about "cleaning house" at the DOJ, targeting the individuals at the department who were involved in the Russia investigation.
And this is just one day after Barr had told people close to the president that he was considering quitting. Officials said they were keeping their eyes on the situation, knowing that a new string of tweets could set the whole thing in motion. Yet, when he spoke at an event on Wednesday at FBI headquarters, he didn't mention anything about the controversy.
If Trump keeps tweeting about the DOJ, and Barr stays on as attorney general, "I think he is in danger of getting into 'Boy Who Cried Wolf' territory," said a former DOJ spokesman from the Obama administration, Matthew Miller.
"He's already said the president's commenting made his job impossible, and the president kept commenting, and then he apparently told people that he was considering resigning if the president didn't stop. So if the president doesn't stop now, and he doesn't quit, he looks feckless and insincere."
Yet, on Wednesday, Trump continued to tweet, and Barr didn't budge from his seat. However, Trump got crafty with it. He didn't only post his own thoughts and instead retweeted thoughts about the DOJ from other conservatives.
Mostly Trump retweeted posts from Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group who believes Trump was "the victim of a seditious conspiracy" by the DOJ and the FBI and that it led to the Russia investigation.
"Barr should clean house at DOJ," Fitton posted in one tweet. In another that Trump shared, Fitton said the president "has a positive constitutional obligation to speak up about DOJ corruption."
He's spent a great deal of his time suing the government trying to get documents that will show the DOJ as being corrupt. He shares his thoughts on Fox News frequently, and Trump occasionally shares Fitton's thoughts on Twitter as he did on Wednesday.
Fitton backed up Trump's comment earlier in the day that he is the "chief law enforcement officer of the country." The Judicial Watch president cited instances when other presidents had made demands on the DOJ, such as the late President George H.W. Bush ordering the department to investigate the police after the riots that occurred in the wake of the Rodney King beating.
Trump also shared Fitton's suggestion that he should pardon former national security adviser Michael Flynn who took a plea deal for lying to the FBI and who is still awaiting sentencing more than two years later.
Tweets by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) were shared by Trump as well. The congressman had said he hoped the DOJ would hold the officials responsible who "weaponized the awesome powers at their disposal in order to target the Trump campaign" during the Russia investigation. The president commented, "There must be JUSTICE. This can never happen to a president or our country again!"
Trump also discussed his complaints about being impeached by the House for asking Ukraine to conduct investigations of his political rivals while withholding military aid from the country.
Zeldin's thoughts that House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) should be "stripped of their gavels" were retweeted by Trump as well. He also said "the Dems should be removed from power in Nov. for their corrupt, rigged, rushed impeachment, hijacking Congress to appease a radical activist liberal base."
The White House explained Trump is not agreeable to requests to change and has said he is not going to stop tweeting about the DOJ. He considers his tweets about what he sees as misconduct by the FBI and DOJ as a good political message.
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