Biden Says He Wouldn't Stand In The Way Of A Trump Prosecution Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would not stand in the way of a future Justice Department pursuing criminal charges against President Trump after he leaves office.
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WATCH: Biden Says He Wouldn't Stand In The Way Of A Trump Prosecution

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WATCH: Biden Says He Wouldn't Stand In The Way Of A Trump Prosecution

WATCH: Biden Says He Wouldn't Stand In The Way Of A Trump Prosecution

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/899375561/899728820" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So if Joe Biden is elected president, he says he will not stop his Justice Department if it wants to prosecute Donald Trump. This comment comes in a new interview that is out this morning. Biden spoke with a panel of reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. And among those questioning Biden was our own colleague Lulu Garcia-Navarro, the host of Weekend Edition Sunday. And she is with me this morning.

Hi, Lulu.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Hi, there.

GREENE: So this question of potentially prosecuting President Trump - I mean, it's reported that the state of New York is going forward with investigations, that the Justice Department has been given allegations of illegal activity that they're looking at - maybe by the Trump Organization, potentially the president. So is Biden really saying here he wants his Justice Department, in theory, to take action if he's in office?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is a really important point, David. Biden pledged not to get involved one way or the other.

GREENE: OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He said he would not direct prosecutors to go after Trump, but he also said he would not stop them. What he is pledging is to let the DOJ stay independent. So that means if they find wrongdoing, they are free to prosecute Trump. But he did recognize that it would be a divisive - obviously - and painful episode for the country to see a former president prosecuted. Let's listen to a part of my exchange.

JOE BIDEN: Look. The Justice Department is not the president's private law firm. The attorney general is not the president's private lawyer. I will not interfere with the Justice Department's judgment of whether or not they think they should pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law. But I also am not going to...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Including a former president?

BIDEN: It depends on what happens. It depends on what happens. I think it is a very, very unusual thing and probably not very - very - how can I say it? - good for democracy to be talking about prosecuting former presidents.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I asked him about this, David, in part because Kamala Harris, considered a top contender, as you know, to be his running mate, told NPR last year that her Justice Department would prosecute Trump, that they would have no choice, she said.

GREENE: OK. So he's being a little more careful and not coming out quite as strongly. Well, it sounds like you've covered a ton of stuff. I know you talked to Biden about policy. He told you he would not - he would stop border wall construction but not tear down what President Trump has already built, which was interesting. I mean, what - where else did the conversation go?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, he talked also about asylum. The Trump administration put in place a policy known as remain in Mexico last year, where people seeking asylum in this country have to stay outside the border while they wait for a U.S. immigration court to see their case. This has caused a humanitarian catastrophe. We've reported on this. There are thousands of migrants waiting in Mexico in camps to come across the border. My colleague Alfredo Corchado from the Dallas Morning News asked Biden about how to roll that policy back, as Biden says he wants to do, without creating a different crisis at the border.

BIDEN: We just say, OK, all done. We - I've withdrawn the order, and you're going to have a crisis on the other side of the border, as well. And we shouldn't be putting these people, when they come across the border, in - in jail. We should be doing - monitoring them. There's ways to monitor without putting them in jail, No. 1. But we have to make sure that we build up the infrastructure to be able to accommodate. Trump's cruel, inhumane border policies that, you know - ripping children from their mothers' arms and Trump's migrant protection protocols, you know, remain in Mexico program - I mean, all of this is going to take time - not a long time, but it's going to take - you have to be prepared.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Biden also said he had some stern words for ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and their tactics under this administration.

BIDEN: ICE is going to go back to school. The idea that ICE is sitting outside of a mass on Sunday to arrest a parent coming out as undocumented, the idea that they're going to schools, the idea they're going to doctor's appointments is wrong. This is about families - families.

GREENE: By the way, Lulu, I have to assume that at some point, Biden just came out and told you who his running mate is going to be. Right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Drumroll...

GREENE: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Nope.

GREENE: Maybe not.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Nope, nope. I think I would have led with that.

GREENE: Yeah, probably.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am that kind of journalist. It was my first question. It was my first question. We did ask him about some of the bad blood, though, between some on his team and Kamala Harris. A top adviser was reported to be bothered still by how tough she was on Biden in the first primary debate. And here's what he said about that.

BIDEN: I don't hold grudges, and I made it really clear that I don't hold grudges. I think it was a debate. It's as simple as that. And she's very much in contention.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We don't know who's going to get the nod.

GREENE: But we might see soon. That's our colleague Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who hosts Weekend Edition Sunday, spoke to Joe Biden. Thanks, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you.

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