There has been quite a bit of back and forth between President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr the last week or so.
After reports that Barr was considering resigning over the president tweeting on the subjects related to ongoing cases at the Justice Department, Barr made it clear he has no plans to step down.
Now that the tiny little riff has been settled, Barr appears to have the support of Republicans in Congress and is scheduled to attend a special closed-door lunch with the Senate GOP caucus next week.
An unnamed source “familiar with the planning” reportedly told The Hill that the expected topic of discussion will largely regard upcoming votes on whether or not to renew authorization for certain government surveillance programs.
Several programs under the USA Freedom Act — such as Section 215, which allows for the collection of metadata on domestic phone calls and text messages — are set to expire in a few weeks unless the Senate votes to reauthorize them.
The unnamed source told The Hill, “Reauthorization of these certain programs is a priority for both Leader McConnell and AG Barr.”
The scheduled lunch, which was reportedly in the works weeks ago, comes after Barr publicly asked Trump to stop tweeting about ongoing DOJ cases.
Last week, Trump tweeted about the recommended sentencing of Roger Stone.
Former Mueller prosecutors recommended that Stone get up to 9 years in prison for lying to investigators when he was caught up by the Russia witch hunt.
Around the time Trump vented his frustrations, reports suggested that Barr and his team were already moving to reduce the recommendation of the sentence.
But when Trump weighed in on the matter, Barr said it made his job much harder because the president’s tweets resulted in critics saying the DOJ is working on Trump’s behalf.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody….whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president," Bill Barr tells @ABC News.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 13, 2020
Days after this interview, the Washington Post published a story alleging that Barr is planning to resign if the president does not stop tweeting.
“Attorney General William P. Barr has told people close to President Trump — both inside and outside the White House — that he is considering quitting over Trump’s tweets about Justice Department investigations, three administration officials said, foreshadowing a possible confrontation between the president and his attorney general over the independence of the Justice Department,” the Post reported.
In response, the Justice Department squashed those rumors in a tweet and said Barr is not planning to resign.
Addressing Beltway rumors: The Attorney General has no plans to resign.
— KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) February 19, 2020
Trump has weighed in on the Stone case since this debacle, but he seemed to do it in a more controlled manner.
Last Thursday, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison. Trump didn’t explicitly make any promises, but he seemed to tease that he may be considering a pardon for Stone.
“I am following this very closely, and I want to see it play out to its fullest,” Trump told reporters. “I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States.”
His even-keeled response suggests he values Barr and took his comments to heart about not weighing in on ongoing cases.
Barr has no plans to leave his post and it seems as if the president does not want him to leave either.