During an appearance on MSNBC this week, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden answered a series of questions about decisions he would make if he wins on Election Day.
Asked if he would pardon Donald Trump of any criminal charges that could potentially come after the current president leaves office, Biden said such a decision would be “hands-off, completely.”
Of course, no investigation thus far in the Trump presidency has resulted in any credible allegations and an impeachment trial in the U.S. House of Representatives ended with his acquittal in the Senate.
“So, that’s a commitment”
Nevertheless, there are new calls to compel the release of Trump’s tax records along with other personal and business documents.
If Biden wins in November, those efforts to investigate Trump could continue. One questioner during Thursday’s televised remarks asked the former vice president how he would respond.
“Would you be willing to commit to not pulling a President [Gerald] Ford and giving Donald Trump a pardon under the pretense of healing the nation?” the individual asked, referencing Ford’s decision to pardon former President Richard Nixon following the latter’s resignation. “In other words, are you willing to commit to the American ideal that no one is above the law?”
Biden responded in the affirmative, prompting host Lawrence O’Donnell to clarify.
“So, that’s a commitment,” he said. “Mr. Vice President, you’re saying that wherever the investigative trail might lead, whether that be an investigative trail pursued by the Justice Department against Trump officials, Trump associates, administration officials — whether those are congressional investigations — that’s hands-off for you, you’re not going to say, ‘Let’s just let bygones be bygones’?”
“The prostitution of that office”
Contrasting his vision for the presidency with what he called “the prostitution of that office” under Trump, Biden said that influencing a criminal investigation is not something any president should do.
“It’s hands-off, completely,” he said.
Of course, White House pardons are issued on a relatively frequent basis and former President Barack Obama handed out more than any president since Harry Truman — all while Biden served as his vice president.
Though it might make good political television for Biden to speculate about what he would do if elected president, but he might be better off attempting to increase lackluster enthusiasm for his campaign among Democrats.