Even as President Donald Trump renewed his public attacks on the Justice Department on Wednesday, there was little outward worry from either end of Pennsylvania Avenue that Attorney General William Barr would follow through on his private threat to resign over presidential meddling.
Barr’s suggestion that he may quit over the president’s tweets left many close to Trump questioning whether the attorney general really was considering stepping aside, instead believing he was trying to quell an internal uproar at the Department of Justice and bolster his own reputation and his ability to act on Trump’s behalf.
Barr told people close to him he has considered leaving his post after Trump wouldn’t heed his request to stop tweeting about the agency’s cases. The attorney general last week had taken a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it “impossible” for him to do his job.
But Trump has repeatedly ignored that advice, insisting that he has the “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases. In a series of retweets Wednesday, he appeared to embrace the suggestion that Barr “clean shop” at the department and appoint a special counsel to probe both the agency and the FBI.
Barr had lunch on Tuesday with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, though officials said it was pre-scheduled and unrelated to the firestorm at the agency.
Multiple White House officials insisted Wednesday that the spat with Barr was being overblown and that the attorney general would not be going anywhere. But they also acknowledged there was zero chance Trump would refrain from tweeting about the department as requested by Barr.
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