President Joe Biden on Friday said those who refuse subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the US Capitol should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins what his message is to those who refuse subpoenas from the panel, Biden said, “I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable.”
Pressed on whether he thinks those people should be prosecuted by the department, the President said, “I do, yes.”
The President’s comments, the strongest yet from Biden on possible repercussions for those who refuse to cooperate with the select committee’s requests, upended days of discipline from the White House, which has sought to distance itself from the House’s expected criminal contempt referral against Steve Bannon.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited the department’s independence in making prosecutorial decisions when asked about it on Thursday, and last week, she declined to say whether the White House had discussed such enforcement with Attorney General Merrick Garland or anyone at the Department of Justice.
“That would be up to the Department of Justice, and it would be their purview to determine. They’re an independent agency,” she told reporters at a White House press briefing on October 8. “They’re independent. They would — they would determine any decision on criminal prosecutions. I’d point you to them and, of course, the committee.”
And Justice officials have avoided revealing what they will do with the referral, which hasn’t been used to prosecute anyone in decades.
DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said Friday that “the Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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