The Justice Department shot back a “terse” response Friday to President Joe Biden’s suggestion that individuals who ignore subpoenas related to a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 riots at the United States Capitol should be prosecuted.
What did Biden say?
While speaking to reporters at the White House, Biden said any individual who ignores subpoenas related to the Jan. 6 investigation should be held “accountable.”
“I hope the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” Biden said.
When a reporter followed up, asking Biden whether he thinks such individuals should be “prosecuted by the Justice Department,” the president answered in the affirmative.
“I do, yes,” Biden said.
What was the response?
Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley fired back a “terse” response late Friday.
“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” Coley said.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was assigned to damage control duty. She followed up Biden’s remarks by saying the White House supports the Justice Department’s independence in any investigative matters related to Jan. 6.
“As @potus has said many times, January 6th was one of the darkest days in our democracy,” Psaki said. “He supports the work of the committee and the independent role of the Department of Justice to make any decisions about prosecutions.”
Biden’s comments came after a lawyer for Steve Bannon, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump, said Bannon would not cooperate with the congressional committee investigating the riots. The committee is now preparing criminal contempt charges against Bannon for defying a subpoena.
“If the House moves to hold Bannon in contempt, which is likely with Democrats’ slim majority, then the matter will be referred to the U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C. for criminal prosecution,” Politico reported.
A lawyer for Trump has reportedly instructed former top officials not to cooperate with the congressional investigation.