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US Attorney General Bill Barr on Thursday delivered a highly unusual public rebuke of Donald Trump, saying the president's tweets were making his job at the Justice Department "impossible."
"I have a problem with some of the tweets," Barr said in an interview with ABC News, adding: "I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me."
"I think it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases," said Barr.
His interview came as Trump stands accused of interfering with the sentencing recommendation for his former advisor, Roger Stone — prompting four Justice Department prosecutors to resign from the case this week.
The outburst was all the more remarkable as Barr has emerged as a powerful defender of Trump, earning the nickname of the "president's attorney" from critics.
Barr has been at the center of allegations that he decided — allegedly under pressure from Trump — to overrule his own prosecutors and seek a lighter prison sentence for Stone.
He has previously been criticized by Democrats and legal experts for seeming to assist Trump during the independent investigation into whether the president was helped by a Russian influence campaign during the 2016 election.
The two men are so close that there was immediate speculation that Barr's television interview may have been more about managing public opinion than a real outcry against Trump's alleged interference in judicial affairs.
The controversy comes about a week after the Senate acquitted Trump of impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations, including into Trump's political opponent Joe Biden.
Another staunch Trump ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, supported Barr's comments about the tweets.
"If the attorney general says it's getting in the way of doing his job, maybe the president should listen to the attorney general," McConnell told Fox News.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Trump had "full faith" in Barr.
"The president wasn't bothered by the comments at all," she said in a statement.
That message was amplified by Trump's National Security Advisor who insisted the president has "tremendous confidence" in Barr.
"He's a fantastic member of the cabinet, he has a very strong relationship with the president," Robert O'Brien told reporters at the White House.
Trump's Twitter muscle
Unlike any president before him, Trump frequently uses social media to broadcast his opinions and decisions without going through traditional statements to the media.
Grisham indicated that Barr's comments would not change that, referring to the White House's frequent claim that professional media organizations misrepresent Trump and therefore need to be bypassed.
"President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news," she said.
Trump uses Twitter in particular to make instant, high-impact interventions, often reacting to events in real time.
In the latest case, he used his Twitter pulpit to speak out in defense of veteran Republican consultant Stone.
This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
Stone was convicted in November of last year of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into the Russia 2016 election affair.
‘QAnon Shaman’ Jake Angeli charged over pro-Trump riots
A prominent follower of the baseless conspiracy theory QAnon has been charged over the US Capitol riots.
Jacob Anthony Chansley, known as Jake Angeli, is in custody on charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct.
Mr Chansley, who calls himself the QAnon Shaman, is allegedly the man pictured with a painted face, fur hat and horns inside Congress on Wednesday.
Donald Trump faces another impeachment charge for his role in the unrest.
Democrats accuse the president of encouraging the riots, in which five people died.
The FBI has been appealing to the public to help bring the assailants to justice.
Mr Chansley has not commented publicly on the charges.
A statement from the federal attorney for Washington DC said: “It is alleged that Chansley was identified as the man seen in media coverage who entered the Capitol building dressed in horns, a bearskin headdress, red, white and blue face paint, shirtless, and tan pants.
“This individual carried a spear, approximately 6 feet in length, with an American flag tied just below the blade.”
The statement said police had also detained a man from Florida believed to have been photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern from the House of Representatives chamber.
Adam Johnson, 36, is being held on charges including one count of theft of government property and one count of violent entry.
Also among those charged is West Virginia lawmaker, Derrick Evans. He is alleged to have posted a video of himself online, standing outside the building with Trump supporters, and then going inside.
He was arrested on Friday and is also accused of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds, the Department of Justice statement said.
More than a dozen people have now been charged in offences related to the assault on the Capitol building. They include an Alabama man allegedly found with 11 Molotov cocktails near the unrest.
Mr Trump is due to leave office in 11 days. Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to introduce an article of impeachment against him on Monday, for “incitement of insurrection”.
A White House spokesperson said impeaching the president at this late stage would only further divide the country.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55606044
US election: Trump tells Georgia election official to ‘find’ votes to overturn Biden win
US President Donald Trump has been recorded telling Georgia’s top election official to “find” enough votes to overturn the election result.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Mr Trump told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a recording released by the Washington Post.
Mr Raffensperger is heard replying that Georgia’s results were correct.
Mr Biden won Georgia alongside other swing states, winning 306 electoral college votes to his Mr Trump’s 232.
Since the 3 November vote, Mr Trump has been alleging widespread electoral fraud without providing any evidence.
He tweeted on Sunday that Mr Raffensperger had not given details of the fraud the president alleges. “He has no clue!” the president tweeted.
All 50 states have certified the election result, some after recounts and legal appeals. So far, US courts have rejected 60 challenges to Mr Biden’s win.
Congress is due to formally approve the election result on 6 January.
Mr Biden, a Democrat, is due to be inaugurated as president on 20 January.
Voters in Georgia are due to vote again on Tuesday to elect two senators for the state. The result could determine the balance of power in the Senate – if the two Democrat contenders win, then there will be equal numbers of Republican and Democratic senators and Democratic Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will have the deciding vote.
Mr Biden’s Democrats already control the lower House of Representatives.
What happened during the call?
In the excerpts released by Washington Post, Mr Trump can be heard alternately cajoling and pressurising Georgia’s secretary of state.
He insisted that he had won the election in Georgia and told Mr Raffensperger that there was “nothing wrong with saying you have recalculated”.
Mr Raffensperger responded by saying: “The challenge you have Mr president is that the data you have is wrong.”
Later in the call Mr Trump said the rumour was that ballots had been shredded and voting machinery had been removed from Fulton County in the state – a charge Mr Raffensperger’s lawyer said it was not the case.
The president then threatened the official with possible legal consequences.
“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offence. You can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer,” Mr Trump said.
He told Mr Raffensperger he should re-examine the result in the state.
“You can re-examine it, but re-examine it with people who want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers,” he said.
“Mr President, you have people who submit information and we have our people that submit information and then it comes before the court and the court has to make a determination,” Mr Raffensperger replied. “We have to stand by our numbers, we believe our numbers are right.”
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-55524838
Fact-checking Trump’s conspiracy theory connecting Georgia’s secretary of state to China
In the waning days of his presidency, Donald Trump continues to spread nonsense conspiracies over the 2020 election and the officials who oversaw it, attacking Georgia’s governor and secretary of state on Twitter Tuesday.
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