I can understand the real reason for Barr's displeasure. The timing of the latest tweet tended to make Barr look like he was taking direction from Trump via Twitter in running DoJ--that Trump tweets and Barr asks how high to jump. It's an absurd extrapolation from the actual facts, but perception matters in real life, and especially in politics. Excerpts:
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody ... whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said.
“I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
The other side of the coin--and there definitely is one--is that many of these cases were clearly initiated based on political bias against Trump, and the MSM serves as an echo chamber for the narrative that these efforts to undercut the president are intended to advance. Devin Nunes has been stressing MSM collusion with Trump's foes at every opportunity recently, and there's no doubt that these cases are part of that anti-Trump narrative. Thus, it's simply a fact of American political life that unless Trump tweets, he won't get his side of the story out and average citizens will be left to assume that where there's smoke there's fire. Isn't that what happened with the 2018 midterm elections?
Hopefully Barr and Trump can work out some sort of modus vivendi as regards Twitter. Barr's concerns are understandable, yet it's unreasonable to ignore the simple fact that these cases are going on in an intensely political environment and that they require a political as well as a legal response. Further, as we saw--and continue to see--in the Impeachment Theater, the Russia Hoax continues to be the go to meme for Dems. It certainly figured in the Stone trial and the Manafort trial, both handled by Judge Amy. How reasonable is it for Barr to expect Trump to ignore the judicial aspect of the Russia Hoax when the judicial aspect is very obviously being used for political effect?
Greater tweeting discretion might help. Perhaps Trump needs to meet with Barr and clear the air. Perhaps Barr's interview is the result of a bit of air-clearing.
Interestingly, this morning NeverTrump Paul Mirengoff defended Trump's criticism of judges, and I agree with his views:
President Trump is under fire again for criticizing federal judges. His latest criticism of a judge comes in connection with Roger Stone’s case.
I can’t discern a good reason for objecting to a president criticizing a judge. ...
... Trump gives courts the respect they deserve when the administration complies, as it invariably has, with court decisions.
... The executive and legislative branches are coequal and they attack each other all the time.
To exempt the judiciary branch from criticism would be to signal that it is greater than, not coequal to, the other branches. It would reinforce the view that judges are our “robed masters.”
Federal judges have life tenure to protect them against retaliation by the executive and (except in extraordinary circumstances) the legislature. This should be enough to prevent them from being swayed by criticism from the president.
So again, I just don’t see a legitimate basis for the hand-wringing about Trump’s criticism of judges. It strikes me as just another weak anti-Trump talking point.
That's an interesting picture--Barr indulging in weak anti-Trump talking points!
UPDATE: I happen to largely agree with sundance's take at CTH, which is more measured than usual, and omits the Barr-the-piper photo:
If President Trump saying “this case sucks” via Twitter is enough to collapse the institutional objectives of a modern judicial system… and impede the ability of the U.S. Attorney General to do his job, well, what does that say about how weak and compromised the guardians have allowed that system to become?
Then again, that level of institutional compromise explains exactly why a fraudulent impeachment attempt was even possible.
And Trump is taking Barr's interview totally in stride--as he should:
In a new statement, Stephanie Grisham says Trump has "full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law" and he "wasn’t bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions."
4:54 PM · Feb 13, 2020
For the rest, I think we get it right in the comments section here--albeit perhaps unintentional, this is probably a signal that we can expect significant develops in the not too distant future.