President Biden admitted Thursday night that his call for the Justice Department to prosecute individuals who defy a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot was inappropriate.
“The way I said it was not appropriate,” Mr. Biden said at a CNN town-hall meeting in Baltimore.
“One of the things I was committed to doing when I ran was reestablish the reputation and integrity of the Justice Department,” he continued. “It was corrupted under the last administration. I should have chosen my words more wisely.”
Mr. Biden vowed that he will never pick up a phone and tell the attorney general whom he should or should not prosecute.
Last Friday, Mr. Biden sparked a war of words with the Justice Department after he told reporters that anyone who bucks a commission subpoena should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
The department immediately pushed back with a strongly-worded statement.
“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in an email to The Washington Times.
On Thursday, the House approved a referral of contempt for former President Trump’s adviser Steve Bannon, who has refused to comply with the commission’s subpoena.
The referral arrived at the U.S. Attorney’s office Thursday evening and now the Justice Department will decide whether to bring charges that could result in jail time or fines for Mr. Bannon.
The committee so far has issued 19 subpoenas, largely to ex-Trump aides. While Mr. Bannon has outright defied the committee, others appear to be negotiating appearances.
So far, three people, including two longtime White House staffers, Megan Powers and Hannah Salem, have agreed to comply with the subpoenas. Lyndon Brentnall, whose firm was hired to provide security on the Ellipse that day, also agreed to appear.