Biden, Harris pledge to keep politics out of DOJ
President-elect Joe Biden 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 Tapper. 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 Trump 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 Harris 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 Stone.
Biden’s sitdown with Tapper was his first joint interview with Harris since they were elected last month.