In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr insisted that he does not read President Trump's tweets, including one in which the president said Roger Stone had shown “guts” by not testifying against him.
During a tense exchange, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., pointed out that Barr had testified during his 2019 confirmation hearing that it would be a crime for the president to pardon someone in exchange for that person’s silence.
Swalwell then asked Barr if he was familiar with a December 2018 tweet in which Trump praised Stone’s vow that he would never testify against the president.
“I will never testify against Trump.” This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about “President Trump.” Nice to know that some people still have “guts!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
“No, I am not familiar with that,” Barr said.
“You don’t read the president’s tweets?” Swalwell asked.
“No,” Barr replied.
“Well, there’s a lot of evidence in the president’s tweets, Mr. Attorney General,” Swalwell said. “I think you should start reading them.”
Stone was convicted in November of lying to Congress in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and was later sentenced to three years and four months in prison. That sentence was commuted by Trump on July 10, days before Stone was due to report to prison.
Before Stone's sentencing, Trump said in a tweet that Barr had personally intervened to overrule the original sentencing recommendation by career prosecutors of seven to nine years in prison. Barr, in turn, issued a rare rebuke of Trump, saying that the president’s “constant background commentary” about the Justice Department makes it “impossible for me to do my job.”
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr said in an interview with ABC News in February.
On Tuesday, Swalwell asked Barr if he was investigating Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence.
“No,” Barr replied.
“Why not?” Swalwell asked.
“Why should I?” Barr said.
The issue of Trump’s tweets resurfaced at the end of Tuesday’s hearing.
“You keep telling us that you are not aware of the president’s tweets,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said. “Are you aware your department has stated that the president’s tweets are official White House statements?”
“No, I wasn’t,” Barr replied.
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