On Thursday, during an interview with ABC News, Attorney General William Barr stunned observers by seeming to criticize President Donald Trump, saying that he should stop tweeting about ongoing criminal cases.
According to ABC, Trump and his officials were unaware that Barr was going to take a swipe at him, and were completely blindsided:
Senior level White House sources tell @ABC the president and top aides were unaware of the Barr’s intentions in today’s interview with ABC and were only informed of the content just before it aired – w/ @KFaulders
— John Santucci (@Santucci) February 13, 2020
One of the first reactions to Barr’s comments came from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a prominent booster of President Donald Trump, who took to Twitter to praise Barr and note that he has his “complete confidence.”
He is the right man at the right time to reform the Department and stand up for the Rule of Law.
Attorney General Barr has my complete confidence.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 13, 2020
As New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser noted, Graham’s tweet may have been directed specifically at Trump — to warn him off retaliating against Barr.
Alternative version: Dear President Trump, I know you are angry but please don’t make this a bigger mess by firing Barr https://t.co/WrKIBTTPru
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) February 13, 2020
Barr’s tenure at the Justice Department has been marked with total subservience to Trump, and apparent efforts to cover up law enforcement findings that are bad for him. But with his latest statement, the script has been flipped — and there is no telling what Trump will do in response.