The House Judiciary Committee launched a broad inquiry last month into whether the Justice Department had become overly politicized.
The inquiry came after Barr intervened in several high-profile criminal cases involving people close to Trump. In February, he moved to scale back the Justice Department's sentencing recommendation for Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone, prompting four career prosecutors to withdraw.
In May, Barr sought to drop the criminal charge against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, setting the stage for an ongoing legal battle with the federal judge who was due to sentence Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Barr on Tuesday defended his moves in both cases, specifically mentioning the Stone case, saying: "Stone was prosecuted under me and I said all along that I thought that was a righteous prosecution, I thought he should go to jail... but the line prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice anyone else in a similar position has ever served and this is a 67-year-old man."
Barr added: "I wasn't going to advocate that because that is not the rule of law. I agree that the president's friends don't deserve special breaks, but they also don't deserve to be treated more harshly than other people."
WILLIAM BARR: I would just ask people-- I'm supposedly punishing the president's enemies and helping his friends. What enemies have I indicted? Who-- could you point to one indictment that has been under the department that you feel is unmerited, that you feel violates the rule of law-- one indictment?
Now, you say I helped the president's friends. The cases that are cited-- the Stone case and the Flynn case were both cases where I determined that some intervention was necessary to rectify the rule of law to make sure people are treated the same. I said-- well, Stone was prosecuted under me, and I said all along I thought that was a righteous prosecution. I thought he should go to jail, and I thought the judge's sentence was correct.
But the line prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice anyone else in a similar position had ever served. And this is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence, and they were trying to put him in jail for seven to nine years. And I wasn't going to advocate that because that is not the rule of law.
I agree the president's friends don't deserve special breaks, but they also don't deserve to be treated more harshly than other people. And sometimes that's a difficult decision to make, especially when you know you're going to be castigated for it. But that is what the rule of law is, and that's what fairness to the individual ultimately comes to, being willing to do what's fair to the individual.