WASHINGTON — President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr agree on one thing at least: The president is making the attorney general’s job much harder. What they don’t agree on: Mr. Trump sees no reason to stop.
Defying Mr. Barr’s pleas, Mr. Trump renewed his public attacks on law enforcement on Tuesday, denouncing the prosecutors, judge and jury forewoman in the case of his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. and defending his convicted former adviser Michael T. Flynn against Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department.
It was a day in which the president asserted his dominance over a justice system that has long sought to insulate itself from political pressures. Calling himself “the chief law enforcement officer of the country,” Mr. Trump demanded a new trial for Mr. Stone, called on federal judges to address the “tremendous” abuse of the special counsel investigation of his campaign and bypassed the traditional pardon process to grant clemency to celebrity convicts recommended by his friends, allies and political donors.
Mr. Trump insisted he had not directly interfered in the prosecution of advisers like Mr. Stone and Mr. Flynn, but declared again that he has the power to if he wants and at the very least, he plans to speak out for them. “You take a look at what’s happening to these people,” he told reporters. “Somebody has to stick up for the people.”
In doing so, Mr. Trump acknowledged that Mr. Barr was right last week when he said that the president was making it “impossible” for him to do his work. “I do make his job harder,” Mr. Trump said. “I do agree with that. I think that’s true.”
But while he praised Mr. Barr’s “incredible integrity” and avowed “total confidence” in him, Mr. Trump dismissed the suggestion that he stop weighing on individual cases. “Social media for me has been very important because it gives me a voice, because I don’t get that voice in the press,” he said. “In the media, I don’t get that voice. So I’m allowed to have a voice.”
The president’s latest public comments increased the pressure on Mr. Barr, who has taken heat from critics both inside and outside his department over what they see as the politicization of the law enforcement system. More than 1,100 former Justice Department officials have called for Mr. Barr’s resignation, and a group representing the nation’s federal judges scheduled an emergency telephone conference to address the president’s attacks on one of their own.
The continued attacks raised the question of how Mr. Barr proceeds if indeed he finds it not just harder but “impossible” to do his job amid the president’s running commentary on the department’s criminal cases, as he told ABC News last week. Just hours after Mr. Trump publicly demanded a new trial for Mr. Stone on Tuesday morning, the Justice Department, with Mr. Barr’s approval, announced that it would oppose such a retrial.
Even as he refused to take Mr. Barr’s advice, Mr. Trump expressed no anger toward his attorney general on Tuesday and some officials said the president understands why Mr. Barr felt he had to say what he did last week. But Mr. Trump has seethed with anger that the Justice Department has failed to prosecute his enemies while going after his friends.
As he granted clemency to figures like former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, the junk bond king Michael Milken and the former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik on Tuesday, the president made clear how much he sympathized with them in what he characterized as overzealous prosecutions.
Asked whether he was likewise considering pardons for Mr. Stone, Mr. Flynn or Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman convicted on tax and other financial charges, Mr. Trump said, “I’m not even thinking about that.” But aides said he has broached the idea and critics said Tuesday’s pardons sent a clear message to his associates that he may yet clear them.
“The real test will be, what does this president do with Stone, Manafort and others who are directly connected to him and who have the ability to provide information that is harmful to him?” said former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who served under President Barack Obama.
The president told reporters on Tuesday that Mr. Stone, a longtime friend and off-and-on adviser, and Mr. Flynn, a campaign adviser before serving briefly as his national security adviser, were both “treated very unfairly.” He called Mr. Stone’s conviction “a very, very rough thing” and said that Mr. Flynn’s “life has been destroyed.”
Mr. Stone, who was convicted in November of seven felonies for obstructing a congressional inquiry into the Trump campaign’s ties to WikiLeaks, which disseminated Democratic emails stolen by Russian agents, is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his dealings with Russian officials but wants to withdraw his plea.
On Twitter, Mr. Trump cited a “Fox & Friends” legal analyst, Andrew Napolitano, who has insisted that the president “has every right” to intervene in a criminal case. He quoted Mr. Napolitano’s calls for Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to reconsider Mr. Stone’s case.
“Judge Jackson now has a request for a new trial based on the unambiguous & self outed bias of the foreperson,” Mr. Trump tweeted, quoting Mr. Napolitano.
Judge Jackson ruled Tuesday morning that Mr. Stone’s sentencing will go forward as planned on Thursday despite last-ditch motions by his defense lawyers. She said she would allow the defense to file an amended motion for a new trial, give the government a chance to respond with its own filing and schedule a hearing if warranted. Defense lawyers are trying to argue that juror misconduct led to an unfair trial.
The handling of Mr. Stone’s case has generated tumult throughout the Justice Department and grabbed the attention of Washington’s broader legal establishment. After Mr. Barr scrapped the original sentencing recommendation in favor of a lighter one, the four career prosecutors handling the matter withdrew from the case and one resigned from the department entirely.
As the president has repeatedly pointed out, two of the four prosecutors had worked for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election dogged Mr. Trump for two years. The president attacked Mr. Mueller’s team anew on Tuesday, saying if he were not president, he would sue it.
Mr. Trump tried to distance himself from Mr. Stone, saying he only worked for his presidential campaign briefly in 2015, before it gained momentum. Witnesses in Mr. Stone’s trial, however, testified that he remained in contact with Mr. Trump and top campaign officials throughout the presidential race as an unofficial political adviser.
The president said he had not intervened in Mr. Stone’s case, evidently making a distinction between his public commentaries and explicit orders, but added that he has the power to do so if he wants. “Just so you understand, I chose not to be involved,” he said. “I’m allowed to be totally involved. I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.”
Republican congressional leaders defended Mr. Barr. “Suggestions from outside groups that the attorney general has fallen short of the responsibilities of his office are unfounded,” Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California said in a joint statement.
Mr. Trump’s attacks on Judge Jackson generated alarms within the judiciary. The Federal Judges Association, a voluntary organization, scheduled an emergency telephone conference for this week. Judge Cynthia M. Rufe of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania told USA Today that the group wanted to discuss “plenty of issues that we are concerned about.”
Mr. Trump countered that the judges should instead investigate misconduct in the Mueller investigation. “I hope the Federal Judges Association will discuss the tremendous FISA Court abuse that has taken place with respect to the Mueller Investigation Scam, including the forging of documents and knowingly using the fake and totally discredited Dossier before the Court,” he wrote on Twitter.
The role of Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in another politically fraught matter before the Justice Department has also come under scrutiny.
Mr. Barr said last week that the department had an “intake process” for information from Ukraine, prompting complaints that law enforcement officials were giving Mr. Giuliani special treatment because he has said he turned over evidence against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden about their dealings in Ukraine.
Mr. Giuliani led the campaign to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Biden and other Democrats, a campaign that ultimately led the House to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power; he was acquitted this month in a Senate trial.
A senior official clarified on Tuesday that the department routes all Ukraine matters through a central process, not to circumvent channels but to avoid duplicating efforts. The United States attorney in Brooklyn, Richard Donoghue, oversees the process, and his counterpart in Pittsburgh, Scott Brady, accepts any unsolicited information from the public, including from Mr. Giuliani, said the official, Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general.
“The department regularly assigns U.S. attorneys to coordinate or focus on certain matters,” Mr. Boyd wrote in a letter to Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The procedures do not give anyone “unique access to the department.”
Katie Benner and Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.
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