White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to indicate whether President Joe Biden supported criminal charges against former President Donald Trump and others involved in the Capitol insurrection during a press briefing on Tuesday, saying: “We’re doing something new here, and there is going to be an independent Justice Department.”
Asked if the president thought Mr Trump should face prosecution for his role in the January 6 riots after he was acquitted by the Senate last week, the press secretary said Mr Biden supported the creation of a 9/11-style commission to look into the Capitol insurrection, but would not say whether the White House had a position on any specific charges.
She spoke a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D—CA) announced Congress would establish the independent commission to look into the deadly riots while requesting retired Army Lt Gen Russel Honoré to conduct a review of the Capitol security process. The statement reflected an apparent dig against Mr Biden’s predecessor, who was known to frequently weigh in on controversial cases before his Justice Department.
Mr Trump, who was found to have at least 3,400 conflicts of interest in research conducted by the ethics nonprofit CREW, routinely pressured and fired officials throughout the Justice Department and other federal agencies who failed to comply with his demands, including several attorneys general like former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Attorney General William Barr and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
He also publicly decried investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election led by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, while simultaneously attacking his own Justice Department and the US intelligence community.
On Tuesday, Ms Psaki once again said the Biden Justice Department would act independently from the White House, a commitment the president made along the campaign trail.
In an interview last year with CNN, Vice President Kamala Harris said: “We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job.”
“Any decision coming out of the Justice Department, in particular the United States Department of Justice, should be based on facts, should be based on the law, should not be influenced by politics,” she said. “Period.”
Mr Biden added: “I guarantee you that that’s how it will be run.”