Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate'

President Biden on Thursday said his past comments that the Justice Department should prosecute people who defy congressional subpoenas were not appropriate.

"The way I said it was not appropriate," Biden said on Thursday during a CNN town hall. "I should have chosen my words more wisely."

The president was asked last week what his message was to people who defy subpoenas from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable criminally," he said.

"I do, yes," he added when asked if they should be prosecuted by the Justice Department. 

The House earlier on Thursday voted to hold former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. The vote, which fell almost entirely along party lines, leaves the Department of Justice to weigh whether to pursue criminal charges. 

Biden at the town hall said he will not pick up the phone, call Attorney General Merrick Garland, and tell him what to do in terms of who to prosecute.

"I have yet to talk to the attorney general about anything," Biden said, adding that they will made a decision on their own.

"And they will, I guarantee that," he said.

The president added that anyone who does not respond to a "legitimate committee" in Congress "should be held responsible."