US Attorney General William Barr said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that what news website Mediaite described as an "aggressive posture" against numerous Congressional investigations of US President Donald Trump and his team is a result of his fears of possible damage to the institution of the US presidency.
"I felt the rules were being changed to hurt Trump, and I thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul," he said.
Barr said he believes that a US president must remain a leading figure who can exert political will in times of change, suggesting that this is the description of executive power. He added that it was this belief, as well as encouragement from his friends, that made him agree to take the position of the attorney general again, after Trump made his offer.
"At every grave juncture the presidency has done what it is supposed to do, which is to provide leadership and direction," he told the Journal.
According to Barr, Congress is attempting to undermine presidential power, turning a US president into an "errand boy" for lawmakers. In Barr's view, weakening the executive branch to such degree would leave the US vulnerable.
"If you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we're going to be a much weaker and more divided nation," Barr said.
After the Mueller probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia released its report, Barr issued a four-page memo summarizing the 448-page document. Lawmakers have criticized the attorney general's memo for "deliberately misrepresenting" the report's damning details. In his report, US Special Counsel Robert Mueller asserted that he could not find any direct evidence of collusion, but did not arrive at a decisive conclusion regarding possible obstruction of justice.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the 2016 US elections.
In April, Barr insisted that US government agencies were "spying" on Trump's campaign — a claim he made again in early May and again last week.
Last week, the US attorney general said that he had authorized a probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, saying that many answers he got regarding this topic were "inadequate," a Fox News report says.
"People have to find out what the government was doing during that period," he told Fox. "If we're worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale. I'm not saying that happened, but it's something we have to look at."