Marc Short, Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” to talk about President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr investigating the bias in the Department of Justice and trying to correct it.
Clearly undeterred, though, President Trump is still tweeting about current cases. And some new moves by the Justice Department are raising questions about political interference.
Joining me now is the chief of staff for the vice president and President Trump’s former legislative affairs director, Marc Short.
Thank you so much for coming in this morning.
MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Thanks for having me on, Dana.
BASH: So, let’s start with what the attorney general said this week. Let’s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Why did the attorney general feel the need to do this?
SHORT: I don’t know, Dana.
I don’t think that it’s impossible to do his job. In fact, I think that Attorney General Barr is doing a great job. I think he has a lot of confidence inside the White House.
I think that the president’s frustration is one that a lot of Americans have which feels like the scales of justice are not balanced anymore. That for someone like Roger Stone gets a prosecution that suggests a nine-year jail sentence which is four years above the sentencing guidelines and candidly someone like Andy McCabe who also lied to federal investigators gets a lucrative contract here at CNN people say, how is this fair and how is it equitable? I think that’s the president’s frustration.
BASH: You don’t think that it is unusual for the attorney general to come out in any administration but particularly in this administration to basically say to the president back off?
SHORT: Oh, well, I’m not going to tell you it’s not unusual, but I think that he does enjoy the support of the president, and I think that — that, again, the concern that we have is a sense that the scales of justice are not the same. Again, what we have been seeing again and again is that the Department of Justice has been politicized and the Attorney General Barr is trying to correct that.
Normally what happen in a case like Roger Stone is that somebody has asked for a sentence that is four years above the sentencing guidelines. It goes up the chain to say, here is why I’m suggesting that. Once that happen Barr took it back and said, no, that’s going — that’s going to be excessive. But I think there’s concern about a lot of people who knew that the Mueller probe was a fraudulent probe.
BASH: Which is understandable. There’s understandable concern on any level in any case. But it’s a totally different thing when it is the president of the United States involving himself in criminal cases particularly involving people who are close to him.
And since that interview, basically not me speaking, that’s obviously what the attorney general was getting at, the president continued to tweet. He tweeted about the Justice Department’s decision not the prosecute Andy McCabe and asserted his right to intervene in criminal cases. So why isn’t the president listening to his attorney general?
SHORT: The president has been able to communicate directly with American people through a social media outlet. It is something help (INAUDIBLE) the presidency. It’s one of the things the American people love about him is they can communicate directly with him. He’s going to keep doing it. It’s what he has done from the beginning and I think it’s a very effective way for him to communicate with the American people.
When we talk about weighing in I’ve read even today in “The Washington Post,” an editorial talking about Bill Barr being the president’s wingman. Those were the exact words that Eric Holder used when he said, I am Obama’s wingman. And media never criticized that. Yet today it’s never been accusation that Barr says, I’m his wingman, but the media is criticizing (INAUDIBLE).
BASH: I think what the — first of all, it’s not the media it’s Barr now. Barr is the one who’s criticizing the president for his tweets not us.
SHORT: No. What the media is criticizing is they’re alleging that Barr is the president’s wingman doing basically politicizing the DOJ when in fact Eric Holder said, I am Obama’s wingman, and the media was silent at that time, Dana. The reality is that Barr is being independent. He did come into this decision on his own. It was not something that was influenced by the president.
BASH: But what I hear you saying is that it’s OK because the president uses social media in an effective way, but it’s OK to take that to a level that he is — he is a disrupter. He is a precedent breaker, but this takes it to a level where the Justice Department has historically lived up to its name, you know that. It’s an advocate for independent justice. It’s seen that way around the world.
SHORT: What’s been happening inside of the Justice Department has been unprecedented. When you basically knew the Russian collusion was a hoax and you continued to pursue it, you continued to try to entrap people, that is something that the American people have not seen before and there’s a danger to. So for the president to speak up and say, it’s unfair to prosecute and suggest four years extra years in prison for Roger Stone you’re basically letting the number two person in DOJ go free and again have a lucrative contract here at CNN doesn’t really seem for most people to be equitable system, Dana.
BASH: But most people is one thing. Again, for the president of the United States to inject himself in something like this is — I mean, justice is supposed to be blind, right? I mean, it is not even close, the perception is that it is not even close when you have the president intervening.
SHORT: That’s the point. The president is speaking out, because it hasn’t been blind.
BASH: Barr ordered the Justice Department to re-examine the case of the former National Security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. President Trump said, Flynn’s situation is very unfair. He previously wished him best wishes and good luck. Why is the attorney general inserting himself in cases involving the president’s associates?
SHORT: Because, again, there has been a bias inside the Department of Justice that Attorney General Barr is trying to correct. I think that he said that the president has not called him directly to say please do these things. He has acted independently to initiate these reviews. And I think he’s doing a terrific job with it.
BASH: OK. You’re saying that there is a bias. I understand why you are saying that, but there isn’t — there isn’t — there isn’t proof of that given the fact that you had Robert Mueller appointed, appointed by somebody who was a Trump nominee, and you had very long, very intense investigations by people who, I know you guys said it was a witch hunt and it was — and it was — and it was corrupt and all of those things, but at the end of the day, you had genuine investigations going on by people who are career nonpartisan prosecutors.
SHORT: Well, they are supposed to be nonpartisan. That’s the basis of our complaint, Dana. The reality is that there are people inside the Department of Justice who very clearly were stating their intent to stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States. That is a serious problem and that is what the president has spoken out about. And as you say that proof, I think it’s pretty clear now in the aftermath of the Mueller report that they knew there was no Russian collusion, that they continued the investigation to see who else they can snare, who else they can entrap and —
BASH: I don’t know — all right. I don’t know if that is true that they knew that there was no corruption.
SHORT: I think —
BASH: That’s not — that’s not — that’s not — that’s not fair. There are a lot of things that we can and we’ll fact check. But I want to move on to another topic.