White House Will Leave Decision Whether To Prosecute Trump Up To DOJ

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House February 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki held a news brief... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House February 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki held a news briefing to answer questions from the members of the press. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 16, 2021 1:20 p.m.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the “independent” Department of Justice would make a determination on any criminal charges against former President Trump, following the Senate’s acquittal of his role in the deadly Capitol insurrection last month.

After saying that Biden “certainly supports the rights of individuals to take steps through the judicial process” when asked about Rep. Bennie Thompson’s (D-MS) civil lawsuit alleging Trump and Rudy Giuliani violated an anti-KKK law in conspiring to incite the Capitol insurrection, Psaki pointed to the DOJ as the ultimate decider on any charges against Trump.

Pressed on Biden’s statement on Saturday after the Senate voted to acquit Trump — which cited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) floor speech scolding Trump for “gross dereliction of duty” — Psaki was asked how Trump should be punished since Biden’s statement did not dispute the former president’s incitement of the mob that breached the Capitol.

“Well, I think obviously there was a process that worked its way through the Senate,” Psaki said. “That’s why we put out a statement on Saturday evening.”

Asked whether Biden supports the criminal prosecution of Trump, Psaki left it up to the Department of Justice to make the decision while taking a swipe at the former president and his politicization of the department.

“We’re doing something new here and there’s going to be an independent Justice Department to determine any path forward and any investigation, what that would look like,” Psaki said.

When a reporter pointed out that McConnell left the door open to criminal prosecution against Trump in his Senate floor speech, despite voting to acquit the former president, Psaki once again dodged on whether Trump’s incitement of the Capitol insurrection meets the bar for criminal prosecution.

“I am not going to speculate on criminal prosecution from the White House podium,” Psaki said. ‘The President is committed to having an independent Justice Department.”

Watch Psaki’s remarks below:

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