In the wee hours of the morning NBC reported what longtime Biden-watchers knew was inevitable-- that the next dullard to occupy the Oval Office doesn't want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of Señor Trumpanzee. Exactly what you would have expected: Carol Lee, Kristen Welker and Mike Memoli reported that "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.'"
That could have been written the day-- during the primaries-- when Biden pledged not to pardon Trump. The Biden line will be that his priorities will be the economy, the pandemic, climate change and race relations, not looking back at the Trump administration. Team Biden: "His overarching view is that we need to move the country forward. But the most important thing on this is that he will not interfere with his Justice Department and not politicize his Justice Department."
Lee, Welker and Memoli reminded their readers that "Presidents generally set the tone for what issues they believe should be priorities for the Justice Department, and questions about Trump-related investigations or retrospective reviews are expected to intensify as Biden gets closer to taking office. Biden will begin his presidency by shirking his historic responsibility for holding Trump accountable for 4 years of rampant criminality and for bringing the country close to civil war. That's Biden, unlikely to be nearly as bad a president as Trump, but inevitably to be one of the most mediocre.
Trump's behavior since the election has been-- as we've been saying-- premised on one thing: he will cause problems unless Biden makes sure he doesn't face prison. I'mnot saying Trump should be handed a blindfold and put up against a wall but... well, he should have his days, months, years in court.
Our NBC reported noted that "Emphasizing an arm's-length approach to the Justice Department could give Biden cover from criticism from his supporters about any lack of investigations into Trump, his policies or his staff. Democrats have sharply criticized Trump's direct influence on Justice Department investigations, including his calls for Biden and former President Barack Obama to be prosecuted over allegations of unspecified crimes. Pledging, as Biden has, not to interfere with federal investigations would be welcomed by many of his supporters."
But it will be difficult for Biden to avoid the issue altogether, given the expected calls for investigations into an array of issues involving Trump-- from his administration's child separation policy to his taxes, possible conflicts of interest and potential violations of campaign finance law. The issue could set Biden on a collision course with some of his own supporters, who are eager for a wholesale examination of the Trump presidency.
"There's also a strong school of thought that believes the law's the law," a Biden adviser said, describing the internal debate.
Biden said many times during the campaign that he would leave any decision whether to prosecute Trump up to his attorney general. "If that was the judgment that he violated the law and he should be, in fact, criminally prosecuted, then so be it," he said during a debate in Atlanta. "But I would not direct it."
Biden has said he wouldn't pardon Trump should that become a realistic question.
Still, multiple aides said, Biden is generally not inclined to see his Justice Department investigate Trump.
One of the reasons he has given aides is that he 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.
The delicate balance of answering to his own supporters and uniting the country is in part why Biden recognizes that his nominee for attorney general is "going to be one of the most consequential decisions he's going to make," an adviser said.