President Joe Biden admitted on Thursday that he was wrong to make a statement last week that those defying subpoenas from the House committee investigation the January 6 attack on the US Capitol should be prosecuted.
“No, the way I said it was not appropriate,” Biden said. “I should have chosen my words more wisely.”
He added, “I did not, have not and will not pick up the phone and call the attorney general and tell him what he should or should not do in terms of who he should prosecute.”
Biden’s statement comes as the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to hold former President Donald Trump’s ally, Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt for defying the committee’s subpoena.
Biden last week 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 at the White House 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 had been the strongest yet from him on possible repercussions for those who refuse to cooperate with the select committee’s requests, upended days of discipline from the White House, which had sought to distance itself from the House’s proceedings against Bannon.
Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said following Biden’s initial comments 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.”
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