Biden, Harris pledge to keep politics out of DOJ

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE pledged Thursday that the Justice Department will be run independently and not be influenced by politics when he takes office.

“It’s not my Justice Department. It’s the people’s Justice Department,” Biden told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Biden frustration with Fox News breaks through surface The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden's public moment of frustration MORE. The president-elect said the officials he chooses to lead the Justice Department will have the “independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t.”

Biden made the comments in response to a question about reports that President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE is considering offering pardons to members of his family and inner circle in order to shield them from prosecution.


“Our Justice Department is going to operate independently on those issues, how to respond to any of that. I am not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do. I am not going to be saying, go prosecute, A, B, or C,” Biden answered.

Tapper went on to press Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris discusses pandemic, migration during visit with new Honduran president Biden has done just three local interviews in first year in office Clyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes MORE on her remarks to NPR during the primary campaign that the Justice Department would have “no choice” but to prosecute Trump for criminal obstruction of justice if she were elected. Tapper asked how her past remarks fit with Biden’s own.

“We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job,” Harris, the former attorney general of California, answered. “Any decision coming out of the Justice Department and particularly the United States Department of Justice should be based on facts, it should be based on the law, it should not be influenced by politics. Period.”

Biden agreed with her statement, saying he guaranteed the Justice Department would be run that way.

Trump has been criticized by Democrats for politicizing the Justice Department.


The president has called on the Justice Department to prosecute his political enemies and railed against prosecutors who worked on the Russia investigation as engaged in a political “witch hunt.” Trump has also wielded the pardon power to benefit his political allies, granting clemency to his former national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime friend and adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneOath Keeper charges renew attention on Trump orbit Democrats differ over how Biden should handle Jan. 6 anniversary Alex Jones suing Pelosi and Jan. 6 panel, planning to plead the Fifth MORE.

Biden’s sitdown with Tapper was his first joint interview with Harris since they were elected last month.