Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer doubled down Friday on Attorney General William Barr’s comments criticizing President Trump’s social media comments about Justice Department cases and investigations.
“Presidents should comment on justice matters when it comes to matters of categories of crime,” the former White House press secretary told “Outnumbered Overtime.” “‘We’re not going to go after marijuana possessions. We’re going to go hard and throw the book at gangs.’ These are decisions presidents can make — should make and they should direct the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to follow through.
“But an individual criminal case, particularly one of an associate of the president, White Houses can tarnish that if they comment on them,” Fleischer added. “So, yes, the president has a role but it’s a broader policy-based role, it is not a specific case role.
“If they comment on a specific case, it can politicize justice,” Fleischer said.
Trump insisted Friday he has a “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases — but has so far chosen not to — amid the ongoing controversy surrounding Barr’s decision to overrule federal prosecutors’ initial sentence recommendation for longtime Trump associate Roger Stone.
“The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case,” Trump tweeted, quoting Barr’s remarks in an interview with ABC News Thursday. “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!”
Barr also told ABC that the president’s social media posts made it “impossible for me to do my job.”
“I’m gonna do what I think is right, and you know… I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr said at the time.
Barr is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee March 31 to address the handling of the Stone case and other issues.
All four prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case after top DOJ officials moved to soften the initial recommendation that Stone serve between 87 and 108 months in prison. Trump has denied interfering in the case, but has been extremely vocal about it — saying Stone “was treated horribly” and called a initial sentence recommendation “a disgrace.”