[guest post by Dana]
President-elect Joe Biden wants to move on and let his Justice Dept. make any determinations about future criminal investigations into the former President Trump:
President-elect Joe Biden has privately told advisers that he doesn’t want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of his predecessor, according to five people familiar with the discussions, despite pressure from some Democrats who want inquiries into President Donald Trump, his policies and members of his administration.
Biden has raised concerns that investigations would further divide a country he is trying to unite and risk making every day of his presidency about Trump, said the sources, who spoke on background to offer details of private conversations.
They said he has 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.”
Another Biden adviser said, “He’s going to be more oriented toward fixing the problems and moving forward than prosecuting them.”
Refreshingly, we are being told that President Biden’s Justice Dept. will operate independently from the Biden and that he will not be participating in advising or instructing the Justice Department on what to investigate or what not to investigate. Whether Biden actually remains out of the loop, so to speak, remains to be seen. But for now, it sounds good:
Biden wants his Justice Department to function independently from the White House, aides said, and Biden isn’t going to tell federal law enforcement officials whom 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.”
“He can set a tone about what he thinks should be done,” a Biden adviser said. But, the adviser said, “he’s not going to be a president who directs the Justice Department one way or the other.”
This might be the prudent path to take when considering how to prosecute the former President Trump:
But any prosecution of Trump, no matter how fair, will draw criticism from Trump’s supporters in an already-divided nation. Even non-partisan observers have reason to be concerned by the spectacle of the administration of a new president prosecuting the president who just left office. It’s essential for any stable democracy that elected leaders don’t use their new powers to punish their opponents after they’ve lost. No president has ever done it.
So Biden needs to pursue justice when it comes to Trump—but he also needs to ensure that any prosecutorial decisions about Trump are made in a manner that restores public faith in the Justice Department, rather than making it seem, as Trump has, like just another political arm of the White House…Biden has promised to stay out of any prosecutorial decision, but that won’t be enough.
Biden will have one tool, however, that allows him to pursue justice while also ensuring that the process doesn’t appear to be tainted by politics. That tool is the special counsel—a prosecutor appointed not by Biden, but by his attorney general, who has a measure of independence from the administration. The special counsel should be a career prosecutor who has no connection to Biden or his team, and the Attorney General should publicly state in advance that he or she does not intend to place any restrictions on the special counsel and will follow his or her recommendation.
Surprisingly, President Trump has not tweeted nor responded to any conversation about future prosecutions today…