Joe Biden Won't Pressure Merrick Garland to Indict Trump

President Joe Biden won't coerce Attorney General Merrick Garland into indicting former President Donald Trump for his alleged role in the January 6 Capitol riot.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, when asked whether Garland should indict Trump, said that the administration would let him make the final decision, and that Biden would continue to support the work by the House panel investigating January 6. This comes even as Garland's department is facing increasing pressure to prosecute Trump amid the ongoing hearings from the committee investigating the insurrection.

"We agree all Americans should watch and remember the horrors of one of the darkest days in our history," Jean-Pierre said of the hearings, with the first taking place last Thursday. "But this is up to the Department of Justice."

"The Department of Justice is independent. The president chose Attorney General Garland because of his loyalty to the law and our Constitution, and to restore the independence and integrity of the Justice Department," she told the press on Monday. "That's exactly what the attorney general is doing, so we leave it up to the Department of Justice."

Biden Garland Trump DOJ
The White House says the Biden administration would "leave it up to the Department of Justice" and Attorney General Merrick Garland as to whether it should indict former President Donald Trump for alleged involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot. Above, Garland looks on as President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 13, 2022. Drew Angerer/Getty

The congressional hearings have once again thrusted the Justice Department's lack of action against Trump into national debate. If Garland were to prosecute Trump, he would be the first former president to ever be indicted for criminal conduct.

While Garland has not directly addressed calls to indict Trump—some of which have come from the House committee's own members, the attorney general has reaffirmed that he "will be watching all the hearings."

"I can assure you that the January 6 prosecutors are watching all the hearings as well," he told reporters at a Monday press conference.

Representative Adam Schiff, who is on the House panel, told ABC's This Week over the weekend that he "would like to see the Justice Department investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump."

Committee member Representative Jamie Raskin also told CNN that Garland knows "what's at stake" with the hearings.

"Attorney General Garland is my constituent, and I don't browbeat my constituents [but] he knows, his staff knows, US attorneys know, what's at stake here," Raskin said. "They know the importance of it, but I think they are rightfully paying close attention to precedent in history as well as the facts of this case."

The attorney general has said his department would continue to move with confidentiality in regards to its investigations.

"Our investigations generally proceed quietly and in secret so that we don't tell witnesses where we are, we don't want them to know, we want truthful answers," Garland said. "As we approach, we want to be able to do our subpoenas and search warrants without any risk."

Garland added that the Justice Department has now charged "well over" 800 people in connection to the Capitol riot, but that he would not comment on the gathered evidence in order to avoid affecting other cases and hindering prosecutors' ability to "proceed in an effective way."

Newsweek reached out to the Justice Department for comment.