U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he has the «legal right» to interfere in criminal cases, culminating in a hectic week that raised questions about whether he is undermining the independence of his country’s legal system.
Trump’s criticism of the judge, jury and prosecutors in the criminal case against his adviser Roger Stone generated an unusual response from attorney general, William Barr, his top judicial official, as well as requests for investigation by the Democrats, who failed to dismiss the Republican representative days earlier.
His words culminate in a series of aggressive actions starring Trump since the Senate – under Republican control – acquitted him of the charges brought in a impeachment against him.
Trump has transferred or fired government officials who testified about his attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a potential political rival in November’s presidential election.
He also withdrew the nomination of attorney Jessie Liu, who oversaw the Stone case, by another position the Treasury Department. Sources close to the president said Trump has a greater sense of freedom following his acquittal by the Senate.
«You have to remember that he is not ‘of’ government. He gets frustrated when people tell him that nothing can be done. He’s like, ‘Just do it,'» said a government official who spoke in exchange for maintaining anonymity.
Barr said Thursday that Trump’s attacks make it «impossible» for him to carry out his work at the Justice Department, stating in an interview with ABC News that «the time has come to stop the tweet.» He added that Trump «has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.»
The president responded Friday morning, saying that «that doesn’t mean that, as president, you don’t have the legal right to do so. I have it, but so far I’ve chosen not to use it!» he wrote on Twitter.