White House Won’t Weigh in on Whether Trump Should Be Prosecuted

By Melanie Arter | February 16, 2021 | 6:30pm EST
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 1, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 1, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that while President Joe Biden supports efforts to set up a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol Hill riots, the White House will leave it up to the Justice Department as to whether President Donald Trump should be criminally prosecuted.

When asked whether the president would sign legislation to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, Psaki said, “I saw an announcement I believe it was yesterday if I’m remembering correctly by Speaker Pelosi or some comments I should say.


“It’s of course Congress’s decision to form this commission as we talked about in here, but it’s certainly one the president would support, and President Biden has made clear his views on the tragic events of January 6, including where responsibility for them lies. He backs efforts to shed additional light on the facts to ensure something like that never happens again,” she said.

“In addition to the recently announced desire to put together a commission or form a commission, we’ll continue to work with Congress to identify measures that the federal government can take going forward to prevent violence we saw on January 6, and as you know, there’s a number of hearings that are upcoming in the coming weeks, and we’ll be cooperative with those of course,” Psaki said.

When asked what the White House plans to learn from such a commission, the press secretary said, “I don’t think the tenets of the commission have been formed. That's up to Congress to do. 

“We have a role to play in the federal government of course with ongoing investigations out of the Department of Justice, but he supports efforts to move forward with it, the desire to have one, certainly understanding and knowing how much the events on the 6th impacted members sitting on the Hill,” Psaki said.

NBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander asked how a president who commits acts that Biden says are not in dispute should be punished. 

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

When asked whether Biden supports criminal prosecution, the press secretary said, “That will be up to the Department of Justice to determine. We’re doing something new here, and there’s going to be an independent Justice Department to determine what any path forward and any investigation will look like.”

When asked whether “actions like this” meet the bar for criminal prosecution, Psaki said, “I’m not going to speculate on criminal prosecution from the White House podium. The president is committed to having an independent Justice Department that will make their own decisions about the path forward.”

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