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President Joe Biden is being urged to keep his mouth zipped in regard to the activities of the Jan. 6th committee, especially given that his administration is already facing another major ethics woe.
On Friday, the same day that White House press secretary Jen Psaki was hit with an ethics complaint, the president told reporters that he hopes the committee “goes after” anyone who defies their subpoenas.
“I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable criminally,” he said, adding that he believes subpoena violators should be prosecuted.
The remarks were made a day after former Trump era White House official Steve Bannon skipped a Capitol Hill hearing, prompting committee members to schedule a vote for next Tuesday to hold him in criminal contempt.
The president’s remarks seemed like a clear indication that he’d like to see Bannon prosecuted.
Responding to the president’s remarks, former Obama-era senior White House advisor David Axelrod suggested that he cool it.
“Probably best @POTUS leave this to the AG,” he tweeted late Friday evening.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) October 16, 2021
Though his tweet was predictably ratioed by the president’s groupies, it seems he had a point.
In an emailed statement issued to The Washington Times, a Department of Justice spokesperson did not sound happy with the president’s rhetoric.
“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” spokesperson Anthony Coley said.
His apparent anger likely stemmed from the fact that it’s not considered ethical for the president to weigh in on such matters.
There’s a reason outrage erupted when former President Donald Trump called in 2019 for Obama-era Secretary of State John Kerry to be prosecuted for violating the Logan Act.
“President Trump on Thursday accused former secretary of state John F. Kerry of violating the Logan Act, a relatively obscure and seldom-enforced centuries-old law that prohibits private citizens from conducting diplomacy. There are two reasons that’s potentially problematic,” The Washington Post complained at the time.
A similar complaint has not been filed by the Post about the current president’s remarks. Though the paper reported the remarks late Friday, the piece was neutral on the matter.
Biden’s latest faux pas comes as his press secretary is facing an ethics complaint for violating the Hatch Act.
The complaint was filed Friday by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a decidedly left-wing watchdog group with a record of filing dozens (if not hundreds) of complaints during the Trump era.
BREAKING: We just filed a Hatch Act complaint against Jen Psaki, because no administration is above the law https://t.co/BzwBa6Cd9x
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 15, 2021
The complaint asks the Office of Special Counsel to “investigate whether White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki violated the Hatch Act by advocating for the election of Terry McAuliffe to be governor of Virginia during an official White House press briefing.”
“These actions were directed specifically toward the success or failure of a political candidate in a partisan race. By mixing official government business with support of a candidate for partisan political office in the weeks before the election and engaging in political activity while on duty, Ms. Psaki appears to have used her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election, political activity that is prohibited by law,” the complaint reads.
The complaint references what happened Thursday, when, after being asked whether the administration perceives the Virginia gubernatorial race as a “bellwether” for 2022, Psaki outright endorsed Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Biden’s potential ethics dilemma also comes amid an effort by the nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight (POGO) to rein in the Jan. 6th committee’s overreach.
In a letter dated Oct. 5th, the highly respected organization warned that the committee’s subpoena requests for “sensitive forms of information” on the Jan. 6th rioters — the type of information that usually require a warrant to collect — were dangerous.
Fortunately, some left-liberal privacy/civil-liberties groups with some residual integrity are slowly and carefully starting to speak up about the glaring abuses of the 1/6 Committee. @ACLU‘s silence on all of this is shameful, but totally unsurprising.https://t.co/pnBt3xAJqc
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 15, 2021
“The Project On Government Oversight believes Congress has broad authority to gather information. … However, it is also essential that Congress’s power to gather information be wielded responsibly, especially when information gathering implicates private information or First Amendment-protected activities or could otherwise impact civil rights and civil liberties,” the organization wrote.
“The actions the committee takes in the coming weeks may set important precedent for how congressional demands for records are used going forward,” POGO added, noting that this precedent could potentially one day be used to “target and malign government critics or marginalized communities.”
Government critics like, for instance, people who attended the Jan. 6th rally at the Capitol but didn’t take part in the riot itself.
‘I can’t serve my country anymore’: Fmr DEA agent says he was axed for attending Capitol rally, not riot https://t.co/HSptCy9Yjw
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) March 25, 2021
Knowing Biden, he probably wants these government critics prosecuted as well …
- Judge halts Mayor de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for NYPD, other public workers forced to get jab for job - December 8, 2021
- ‘Bitter fruit of Trump’: Biden’s mounting court losses on vaxx mandates blamed on his predecessor - December 5, 2021
- Controversial ‘activist’ arrested, charged with trying to intimidate judge in Daunte Wright shooting case - December 5, 2021