Attorney General William Barr on Thursday appeared to stand up to Donald Trump when he complained the president’s “constant background commentary” on Twitter and elsewhere makes it “impossible for me to do my job.”
But news anchors, political pundits, legal analysts, lawmakers, celebrities and others aren’t buying the apparent pushback by Barr, whose tenure as attorney general has been marked by Democratic complaints that he views his job as acting as the president’s personal lawyer.
Critics suggested Barr’s comments to ABC News were simply a coordinated attempt between him and Trump to defuse the outrage sparked by his Department of Justice’s botched sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone, which Trump had fiercely disagreed with.
Prosecutors originally suggested Stone serve seven to nine years for his crimes, but Justice Department superiors withdrew the recommendation after Trump complained. All four prosecutors assigned to the case quit in protest.
Barr claimed his intervention in the case was not influenced by Trump.
Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Barr’s interview could be “a carefully staged message to cool down pissed off DOJ attys whom Barr undercut & to avoid any further internal strife.”
“This message does not get sideways with Trump because he’s already done what Trump wanted,” Steele tweeted.
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) told CNN’s Erin Burnett that she “would not be surprised” if Barr and Trump had been “in cahoots in terms of Barr making a public statement to the American people.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow urged her viewers not to “abandon our powers of reasoning and common sense” about the “official lie that was rolled out today to try to alleviate this crisis.”
CNN’s Don Lemon said Barr’s statement “sounds tough, sounds independent, sounds too good to be true because it is too good to be true.”
“Nobody is buying this,” he added.
Even Fox News host Laura Ingraham acknowledged Barr was “basically telling Trump, ‘Don’t worry, I got this.’”
Movie director Judd Apatow was among those to call “BS” on Barr’s claims.
And others called it “nonsense theatrics” and “show and coverup.”