By Duncan Smith
Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made somewhat of a strange campaign promise Thursday: He won’t ‘pardon’ President Donald Trump if Congress launches investigations.
“It’s hands-off completely,” Biden told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell during a virtual televised town hall in response to a viewer’s question over whether he’d pardon Trump “under the pretense of healing the nation.”
Of course, claiming that he wouldn’t pardon President Trump presumes that Trump will have done something illegal and will have been convicted of it — or impeached.
Biden did not specify any potential charges against President Trump, but he did complain about Attorney General William Barr, saying a president is not “entitled” to direct either a prosecution or decide to drop a case.
“It’s a dereliction of his duty,” said Biden of Barr, adding that an attorney general “is not the president’s lawyer. It’s the people’s lawyer.”
“We never saw anything like the prostitution of that office like we see it today,” Biden added, in what could quite possibly be the biggest lie of the evening.
Readers old enough to remember President Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., may recall that he once served as his boss’ “wingman” and that the two of them were often scrutinized for being too close.
Asked by radio host Tom Joyner in April 2013 when he might leave the administration, Holder responded, “I’m still enjoying what I’m doing, there’s still work to be done. I’m still the President’s wing-man, so I’m there with my boy. So we’ll see.”
As to the closeness of the two men, NPR reported in July 2010:
Just how close Holder’s Justice Department and Obama’s White House have become is the subject of speculation.
Lawyers in and outside the department say the White House sometimes knows days or weeks ahead of time when controversial cases will be filed.
And White House lawyers have reviewed some court briefs on health care and gay rights.
Other White House officials have tried to delay announcements of Justice Department moves that might prove politically distracting during the long fight over health care legislation in Congress.
This week, Republican senators flagged White House rhetoric on the controversial Arizona immigration law that they say was designed to influence the Justice Department case.
And Biden’s dead wrong about the Trump administration’s ‘politicized Justice Department.’ But that definitely occurred during his boss’ tenure, as Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner noted Friday:
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder acted as President Barack Obama’s “wingman,” creating a highly politicized Justice Department that would steer investigations away from Democratic allies, including Hillary Clinton, and onto GOP foes such as President Trump, according to a successor.
Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney who served as a Trump’s acting attorney general between Jeff Sessions and William Barr, claimed in a new book that Holder “created an above-the-law culture” in the department that led to the bumbled investigations that the president has dubbed “Obamagate.”
The book, “Above the Law,” notes how Holder created the most politicized Justice Department since the administration of Richard M. Nixon.
“What Holder is advocating for,” he wrote, “is a government full of Jim Comeys: government officials determining on their own what the Constitution demands, deciding which laws to prosecute and which to ignore, selectively releasing information to the media about Americans under investigation, and held accountable neither to the chief executive nor to voters.”
Whitaker said Holder assembled a team that would remain in place after he left and Loretta Lynch was appointed to replace him. The team was responsible, eventually, for thwarting a serious investigation into Hillary Clinton’s serial violations of the Espionage Act for mishandling classified information.
“There’s no doubt that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election,” he wrote.
“But the political meddling within our own government, within the Justice Department, and within the intelligence community poses a far greater threat to Americans than any Russian internet troll farm. Without the rule of law, without respect for the Constitution, without honest administration in the Justice Department, we don’t have a republic,” he added, noting the existence of a Left-wing “deep state” seeking to protect their own and ignore Trump’s election.