Doocy, Fellow Reporter Press Psaki On Whether Biden Believes DOJ Should Prosecute Those Who Defy Subpoenas

Washington Post

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Fox News reporter Peter Doocy pressed White House press secretary Jen Psaki on whether President Joe Biden believes the Justice Department (DOJ) should prosecute Americans who defy subpoenas related to the investigation into the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

The testy exchange came during Monday’s White House press briefing, with Doocy arguing Biden had broken his previous vow not to instruct the DOJ to take up criminal investigations. (RELATED: Jan. 6 Committee Threatens Contempt Referrals Over Defied Subpoenas)

“Why did the president break his promise not to enter into any decisions about what cases the Justice Department should bring and not bring?” Doocy asked, going on to describe how Biden had said “yes” in response to Friday questions about whether the DOJ should prosecute those who refuse subpoenas from the January 6 Committee.

“The president continues to believe that January 6 was one of the darkest days in our democracy,” Psaki responded. “He also continues to believe that the Department of Justice has the purview and independence to make decisions about prosecutions. That continues to be his view and that continues to be how he will govern.”

“You say that that is his view, but that is not what he said,” Doocy pressed.

“I just conveyed what his view is and that is how he has operated, how he has governed and how he will continue to govern, and I think that’s what’s important for people to watch,” Psaki said.

Doocy and Psaki then sparred over whether Biden’s call for DOJ action made him similar to former President Donald Trump, who frequently called on the DOJ to investigate political opponents.


Another reporter then followed up on Doocy’s line of questioning.

“Just to be clear, does the president believe people who defy subpoenas should be criminally prosecuted or not?” the reporter asked.

“It’s up the the purview of the Department of Justice to make that decision,” Psaki responded. “He believes it’s an independent decision that should be made by the Department of Justice, and they’ll make that decision.”

The House Select Committee investigating January 6 released a flurry of subpoenas against former Trump administration officials and allies of the former president at the end of September. The first batch named White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former adviser Steve Bannon, former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Kashyap Patel, the chief of staff for then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

The second group of subpoenas targeted the pro-Trump leaders who organized the protest at the Capitol, which ultimately developed into a riot.

The committee is tasked with investigating the facts and causes of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as well as “issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power.” Committee leaders Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney warned Friday that anyone who refuses a subpoena will face contempt of Congress charges.