Department veterans said Barr bought himself some time with his public rebuke of the president. If he hadn’t spoken out, these veterans said, other prosecutors might have shed their ties to politically sensitive cases, following in the footsteps of the four career officials who ditched the Stone case after Barr intervened to overrule their recommended 7- to 9-year prison term for the longtime GOP operative.

Now, Barr faces another credibility challenge, driven by his own public dressing down of Trump and the president’s unsurprising snub of it.

“He’s really getting into boy-who-cried-wolf territory with this round of stories, saying he’s considering resigning, especially because the president is just not going to change his behavior,” said Matt Miller, a former aide to Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder. “If you don’t resign, you look both feckless and insincere.”