Trump praises embattled Attorney General William Barr, says 'I do make his job harder'

John Fritze, Kevin Johnson and David Jackson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump praised Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, brushing aside earlier criticism in which Barr asserted the president's Twitter posts on criminal cases were making it "impossible for me to do my job."

"I do make his job harder. I do agree with that," Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, where the president was preparing to fly to California. "He's a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general and he's working very hard."

The response was unusual for Trump, who rarely shies from punching back against those who criticize him – even if those people are members of his Cabinet. Barr, in an interview with ABC last week, suggested the president should stop weighing in with his thoughts on criminal cases handled by the Justice Department. 

"It's time to stop the tweeting about the Department of Justice criminal cases," he said.

More: AG Barr: Trump's tweets make it 'impossible for me to do my job'

Barr's remarks came days after the Justice Department backed away from a stiff sentence recommendation for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone. Trump described the recommendation of a seven-to-nine year sentence as a "miscarriage of justice."

"The attorney general is a man with incredible integrity," Trump said.

As the president reaffirmed his support for the embattled attorney general, top Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also pushed back against recent calls for Barr’s resignation. The statement included House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham.

More: More than 2,000 ex-DOJ employees call for Attorney General Barr's resignation

"Attorney General William Barr is a man of the highest character and unquestionable integrity," the lawmakers said. "The Senate has attested to this fact by confirming him four times to positions of the utmost public trust. In each case, his commitment to the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people has proven this trust to be well-placed.”

The Republican lawmakers were referring to more than 2,000 former Justice Department officials who have called on the attorney general to resign for his intervention in politically sensitive prosecutions, including a lighter sentencing recommendation for former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Meanwhile, the Federal Judges Association, a group of more than 1,000 federal jurists, called an emergency meeting for Wednesday to address growing concerns about intervention by the Justice Department's leadership and Trump in politically sensitive cases.

More: Federal judges' association calls emergency meeting after DOJ intervenes in case of Trump ally Roger Stone

Contributing: Kristine Phillips

President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he steps off Air Force One as he arrives Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump praises AG William Barr, says 'I do make his job harder'