William Barr, the US attorney-general, publicly rebuked Donald Trump on Thursday, saying the president’s tweets about ongoing criminal cases had made it “impossible” to do his job.
The comments in an interview with ABC News followed intense criticism this week after the Department of Justice sought a more lenient sentence for an ally of Mr Trump following the president’s criticism of an initial proposed prison term of seven to nine years.
Four prosecutors quit the case of Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the president, when Mr Barr reversed their sentencing recommendation. Mr Trump had publicly tweeted that a sentence of seven to nine years would be a “miscarriage of justice”.
The president has since attacked not just the prosecutors, but also the judge, Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing Mr Stone’s case.
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” said Mr Barr, insisting that he had made his decision on the sentencing recommendation independently of the White House.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody, whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president. I’m going to do what I think is right,” he said.
“I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” he added, saying Mr Trump’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job”.