President-elect is reportedly concerned that probes would further divide country
Crusader Staff Report
A new report says President-elect Joe Biden does not want to investigate President Donald Trump when he leaves office out of concerns that it will further divide the country.
Citing interviews with five anonymous sources familiar with the discussions, NBC News reported Tuesday, November 17, that Biden privately told advisers that he doesn’t want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of his predecessor, despite pressure from some Democrats who want inquiries into President Donald Trump, his policies and members of his administration. Biden reportedly has raised concerns about making every day of his presidency about Trump.
Trump lost his re-election bid on November 7, when the Associated Press called Pennsylvania, giving Biden 273 electoral votes, surpassing the required 270. Trump has yet to concede the race and has made false, unsubstantiated, claims of voter fraud.
Biden believes investigations would alienate the more than 73 million Americans who voted for Trump, the people familiar with the discussions said. Some Democrats, however, have said Biden should be prioritizing the concerns of his supporters, not those of his detractors.
Sources in the report said Biden specifically told advisers that he is wary of federal tax investigations of Trump or of challenging any orders Trump may issue granting immunity to members of his staff before he leaves office. One adviser said Biden has made it clear that he “just wants to move on.”
“He’s going to be more oriented toward fixing the problems and moving forward than prosecuting them,” said one source in the NBC News report.
Aides say in the report that Biden wants his Justice Department to function independently from the White House, and Biden isn’t going to tell federal law enforcement officials who or what to investigate or not to investigate.
“His overarching view is that we need to move the country forward,” an adviser said. “But the most important thing on this is that he will not interfere with his Justice Department and not politicize his Justice Department.”
According to a third Biden adviser, when it comes to any Trump-related investigations, the expectation is “it’s going to be very situational” and “depending on the merits.”
The adviser said Biden’s priorities will be the economy, the coronavirus, climate change and race relations, not looking back at the Trump administration.
Another advisor was quoted as saying Biden “can set a tone about what he thinks should be done. He’s not going to be a president who directs the Justice Department one way or the other.”
The report also said Biden’s team is reluctant to send any signal to Trump administration officials that the Justice Department would not investigate their action with nine weeks until the inauguration.
“While they’re not looking for broad criminal indictments, they do want to make sure that people don’t think there are no ramifications for any of their actions between now and the new presidency,” this source said.
Trump has been criticized for his direct influence on Justice Department investigations, including his calls for Biden and former President Barack Obama to be prosecuted over allegations of unspecified crimes. During his 2016 campaign for president, Trump stirred supporters about jailing Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, who was accused of doing business on her personal emails.
During his term as president, Trump has been accused of promoting child separations. A New York Times investigation reported Trump failed to pay taxes for many years. Trump has also been accused of possible conflicts of interest and potential violations of campaign finance laws.
In 2009, under President Barack Obama’s administration, Democrats demanded the prosecution of Bush administration officials who were involved in policies that allowed enhanced interrogations, or torture, of terrorism suspects. Obama said he did not support prosecuting Bush administration officials who were behind the policies. He also rejected calls for a 9/11-style commission or a truth and reconciliation commission, like the one that examined apartheid in South Africa, to review the policies.
In 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon for his crimes during the Watergate scandal. Two years later, Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election.