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Biden has 'every right to signal' to DOJ on prosecutions, Capitol riot panel Republican says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Assad in April by claiming he was a victim of a “provocation,” a staged chemical weapons attack intended as a pretext for American intervention in Syria. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File) Harry Hamburg

Biden has ‘every right to signal’ to DOJ on prosecutions, Capitol riot panel Republican says

October 17, 02:14 PM October 17, 02:37 PM

One of two GOP members of the congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot defended President Joe Biden urging the Justice Department to prosecute anyone who defies the panel’s subpoenas.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who has been heavily critical of former President Donald Trump, appeared unbothered that the agency went into damage control mode immediately after Biden’s controversial remarks Friday.

“No, I think it’s appropriate. I think the president has every right to signal. I think he has every right to make it clear where the administration stands,” Kinzinger said Sunday when Jake Tapper of CNN’s State of the Union asked if it was appropriate. “And God knows the prior administration every, you know, two hours was trying to signal to the Justice Department, but, you know, that had to do with other, pretty horrific things.”

“CITIZEN” BIDEN FINE TO PUSH FOR DOJ PROSECUTIONS, CAPITOL RIOT PANEL DEMOCRAT SAYS

Kinzinger added: “And I think the president has made it clear that we need answers to this, and, you know, I think the vast majority of Americans agree, so this is — this potential criminal contempt referral, or will-be criminal contempt referral for Steve Bannon, is the first shot over the bow. It’s very real, but it says to anybody else coming in front of the committee, don’t think that you’re gonna be able to just kind of walk away and we’re gonna forget about you. We’re not.”

Biden was asked Friday evening, after Marine One landed on the South Lawn of the White House following a visit to Connecticut, if he believes the DOJ should prosecute anyone who resists subpoenas from the select committee, which has already committed to criminal contempt proceedings against Bannon.

“I do, yes,” Biden said in response.

Biden also endorsed the House Jan. 6 select committee’s efforts to enforce its subpoenas one day after the panel announced it is moving forward with holding Bannon, a former White House chief strategist and Trump ally, in criminal contempt for failing to show up for a deposition.

“I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable criminally,” the president said.

The Jan. 6 committee has scheduled a 7:30 p.m. vote on Tuesday to recommend criminal contempt for Bannon. If passed, it will go to the full House for consideration.

In response to Biden’s comment about prosecutions, which seemingly clashes with a pledge he made months ago to allow the Justice Department to remain independent, the agency stressed prosecutorial decisions would be kept free of White House influence.

“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley told the Washington Examiner.

Kinzinger is one of two GOP members of the Democratic-led House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6. The other is Rep. Liz Cheney, a Trump critic.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, also a member of the Capitol riot committee, similarly defended Biden’s push to get the DOJ to prosecute subpoena defiers.

“I also don’t have a problem with him, as a citizen like me, saying he hopes the Department of Justice will aggressively enforce the law, so people don’t get away with committing crimes like this,” he told CNN on Friday.

In a separate CNN appearance during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in April 2018, Kinzinger sang a different tune, pushing back on Trump’s criticisms of the Russia inquiry.

“I don’t think it’s helpful at all. You know, there’s — whenever you tweet, there can be trouble, especially when it’s a tweet based out of, kind of, what’s going on at the moment. So I wish he didn’t,” Kinzinger said at the time. “But at the same time, again, I think we’ll get ultimate answers when this is done. There’s day-to-day play-by-plays. I get that. For me, I just want to say at the end, when we get answers, we’ll figure it out from there.”

Trump’s willingness to tweet about the Justice Department also prompted his attorney general, William Barr, to grouse about how it “made it impossible for me to do my job.”

Trump recently directed some of his close former advisers, including Bannon, not to comply with subpoenas issued by the House Jan. 6 select committee that sought documents by last week and testimony last week. Bannon sent a letter earlier this month informing the committee he would not cooperate.

Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, and Kash Patel, a former Pentagon aide, were so far “engaging” with the committee, panel leaders said. Dan Scavino, another Trump White House aide, was reportedly served a subpoena on Friday.

Biden’s White House declined to assert executive privilege after Trump sought to withhold documents.

The Biden transition team revealed Biden selected Garland as attorney general on Jan. 6, the same day as the storming of the U.S. Capitol, and he introduced the longtime judge the day after.

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“More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, the independence of the Department of Justice in this nation that has been so badly damaged,” Biden said.

Biden also told Garland and his other DOJ picks: “I want to be clear to those who lead this department who you will serve. You won’t work for me. You are not the president’s or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation to guarantee justice.”

Garland said early this year that “guaranteeing the independence of the department from partisan influence in law enforcement investigations” was a top goal.

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