Biden, Harris Vow to Keep Their Justice Department Independent
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, right, with U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during an election event in Wilmington. (Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg)

Biden, Harris Vow to Keep Their Justice Department Independent

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris declared the Justice Department in their administration would operate independently of the White House.

“We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job,” Harris said in a joint interview with CNN on Thursday, adding that the Biden White House would assume “that 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. Period.”

Biden chimed in, “I guarantee you that that’s how it will be run.”

Harris was asked about the Biden administration’s approach to running the Justice Department after comments she made when she was running for president last year that the department would have no choice but to prosecute President Donald Trump.

In a break with the department’s traditional independence, Trump has often publicly called for it to investigate or prosecute his political opponents, most recently criticizing Attorney General William Barr for saying that he had not seen evidence of massive fraud in the Nov. 3 election.

Biden has not yet chosen an attorney general as he first builds out the parts of his cabinet that deal with national security, the economy and the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden also told CNN he was concerned over recent reports that Trump was considering pardoning himself or his family, and that such a move would undermine the U.S. image abroad.

“It concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice,” he said.

Biden said that he would approach pardons conservatively and would leave decisions on whom to prosecute up to the Justice Department.

“I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do. I’m not going to be saying go prosecute A, B or C,” he said. “It’s not my Justice Department. It’s the people’s Justice Department.”

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