- President-elect Joe Biden said he wouldn’t use the Justice Department as his “vehicle” to investigate President Donald Trump — allowing the agency to be independent.
- Biden laid out his priorities for his first 100 days in office to NBC News anchor Lester Holt in the president-elect’s first televised interview since the November election.
- “I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,” Biden told Holt. “There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level — there’s nothing at all that I can or cannot do about that.”
- “But I’m focused on getting the American public back at a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it,” he continued.
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President-elect Joe Biden said he wouldn’t use the Justice Department as his “vehicle” to investigate President Donald Trump — echoing a campaign phrase about allowing the agency to be independent.
Biden appeared on “NBC Nightly News” with anchor Lester Holt in his first televised interview since the November election, where he was asked about tapping former Democratic rivals for his cabinet, how the presidential transition was moving along, and how he envisions a vaccine rollout next year.
During the interview, the president-elect laid out his priorities in his first 100 days upon taking office in January and responded to a question about investigations into President Donald Trump. As Business Insider’s Dave Levinthal previously reported, Trump could face a litany of federal investigations.
“I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,” Biden told Holt. “There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level — there’s nothing at all that I can or cannot do about that.”
“But I’m focused on getting the American public back at a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it,” he continued. “The middle class and working-class people are being crushed. That’s my focus.”
Earlier this month, Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, called for federal investigations into Trump and members of his administration upon Biden’s transition into the White House.
“[The president] has attacked our elections and sought to throttle democracy,” Pascrell said. “He was rightly impeached by the House of Representatives. He has engaged in treachery, in treason. He has all but given up on governing and protecting our nation and if he had a shred of dignity he would resign today.”
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“Failure to hold financial and political wrongdoing accountable in the past has invited greater malfeasance by bad actors,” he continued. “A repeat of those failures in 2021 further emboldens criminality by our national leaders and continues America down the path of lawlessness and authoritarianism. There must be accountability.”
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Biden has previously said he aims to restore independence that typically exists between the White House and the Justice Department.
During the campaign he responded to an ABC News town hall question in October, saying: “What the Biden Justice Department will do is let the Justice Department be the Department of Justice. Let them make the judgments of who should be prosecuted.”
The line between the DOJ and the president had been blurred with the Trump administration and Attorney General Bill Barr.
Following Election Day, Barr authorized federal investigations into Trump’s disputed claims of election fraud, which were largely rooted in conspiracy theories related to voter fraud and mail-in voting.
Biden told Holt that he will take action on immigration and climate change in his first 100 days, but his main priority will be dealing with the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He opened up on his own experience not having health insurance and related it to what some American families may be feeling amid the ongoing pandemic.
“I remember my dad being restless … so the next morning I asked my mom, ‘What’s wrong with dad?'” Biden said. “She said, ‘Honey, he’s worried. We just lost our health insurance. He doesn’t know what to do.’ Think of all the people who are lying awake at night staring at the ceiling thinking, ‘God forbid that happens.'”
“We have to act to guarantee that they have access to affordable health insurance,” he continued. “This is more than just a financial crisis. This is a crisis that is causing real mental stress for millions of people and it’s within our power to solve it and to grow the economy at the same time.”