Transcript for Exclusive 1-on-1 interview with the attorney general
Good evening and it's great to have you with us here on a Thursday night. And we begin tonight with the ABC news exclusive. One-on-one with attorney general William Barr, as we ask, did the president intervene in the Roger stone case? And why did the justice department publicly change stone's sentencing recommendation after the president's very public criticism? The attorney general saying he made the decision on his own, to overrule his own prosecutors in the stone case, but he acknowledges the change was made public, just hours after the president's tweet. Barr saying the president's betweens, quote, make it impossible for me to do my job. Tonight, the white house is now responding to the interview, and we begin with our chief justice correspondent, Pierre Thomas, asking the attorney general here, did he talk with the president before that change in the stone case? Reporter: Did you talk to the president at all about your decision regarding the recommendations? Never. Reporter: Anybody in the white house call you to try to influence you? No, nope. I have not discussed the Roger stone case with the white house. Reporter: On Tuesday, justice department prosecutors recommended a seven to nine-year prison sentence for the president's close friend, Roger stone. The president, furious, tweeting, "Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!" And just hours later, the attorney general officially overruling his own prosecutors to recommend a lighter sentence. Today, Barr insisted he'd made that decision well before the president's tweet, telling me trump put him in an impossible position. I had made a decision that I thought was fair and reasonable in this particular case, and once the tweet occurred, the question is, well, now what do I do? And do you go forward with what you think is the right decision or do you pull back because of the tweet? And that just sort of illustrates how disruptive these tweets can be. Reporter: So, you're saying you have a problem with the tweets? Yes. Well, I have a problem with some of -- some of the tweets. To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we're doing our work with integrity. Reporter: President trump has publically raged against the prosecutors in the stone case, saying they should apologize. They ought to go back to school and learn, because I'll tell you what, with the way they treated people, nobody should be treated like that. Reporter: Barr tells me he's, quote, happy, Roger stone was convicted on charges, including obstruction of congress and witness tampering. Mr. Barr, the president does not like to be told what to do. He may not like what you're saying. Are you prepared for those ramifications? Of course. But the thing I have most responsibility for are the issues that are brought to me for decision. And I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me. So, let's get to Pierre Thomas, with us live tonight from the justice department. And Pierre, bottom line tonight, attorney general bill Barr there insisting he was not pressured by the president. He says, in the interview with you, he did not talk to the president before recommending that lighter sentence for Roger stone? Reporter: David, the white house spokesman said tonight the president is not bothered by Barr's comments, but says Mr. Trump has the right to exercise his free speech. The white house says trump has full confidence in Barr, but some Democrats are skeptical. Senator bloomen that tweeting tonight that Barr is saying, translation, I'm doing exactly what president trump wants, I just wish he'd stop tweeting about it. David? Pierre Thomas leading us off tonight with his exclusive. Pierre, thank you.
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