Biden Says Americans Can Trust Justice Department as It Investigates Trump

Photo for The Washington Post by Demetrius Freeman.
President Biden makes his way to the White House residence on the South Lawn on March 9.

President Biden said Thursday that Americans can trust an independent Justice Department as it investigates former president and 2024 Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump.

At the end of a news conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House, NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asked Biden whether there was anything he could say to Americans to “convince them” that they “should trust the independence and fairness of the Justice Department that your predecessor Donald Trump repeatedly attacks.”

“I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge,” the president said, pointing his finger at Alexander.

“I’m honest,” Biden added, knocking his knuckles on the lectern before leaving the stage.

The Justice Department has been investigating Trump’s handling of classified material for more than a year, and attorneys for the former president say they expect special counsel Jack Smith – who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November 2022 to lead the investigation – to finalize a charging decision in the coming weeks.

Smith also is overseeing Trump-related investigations surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol – a collection of inquiries that includes Trump-focused fundraising after the 2020 presidential election and efforts to stop the official certification of Biden’s victory.

The former president’s advisers say they are preparing for a potential indictment of Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing. Trump has also claimed, without evidence, that the Justice Department has been weaponized against him.

On Wednesday, he posted on social media: “No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI.”

Trump’s lawyers met with Smith and other officials at Justice Department headquarters in Washington on Monday to make the case that their client should not be charged, people familiar with the matter said this week. Such meetings often happen as federal investigations get close to finishing.

The Justice Department launched its investigation after archives officials found more than 100 classified documents scattered among the various items Trump sent back from Mar-a-Lago. After further questioning about whether Trump had more classified papers at his Florida home, his legal team handed over another 38 documents last June in response to a grand jury subpoena. An FBI search of Mar-a-Lago two months later turned up more than 100 additional documents and items marked classified.